Banner Elk NC “Balcony of the Blue Ridge”

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Town of Banner Elk North Carolina
The Town of Banner Elk is a quiet one traffic light town but is more alive than any other small town I have ever experienced. It’s scenic beauty set in the valley between Grandfather Mountain, Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain. As you stroll down by the statue of the Banner Elk in the center of downtown you will pass the fire station, and many local fine dining restaurants.The area is breathtaking in all four seasons and has an abundance of activities, attractions, festivals and events, skiing, shopping, upscale exquisite restaurants, and much more.

History of Banner Elk NC
The area surrounding the Elk River was inhabited by Cherokee Indians before western settlement, although no evidence of a permanent Cherokee settlement has ever been found it is likely the area was used for hunting and fishing, The first permanent settlement was established by Martin L. Banner 1848. Although the Banner family originally came from Wales, Martin Banner moved from Forsyth County located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Eventually, the Banner family grew to 55 members, and the area where they lived became known as Banner’s Elk. This name was later shortened to Banner Elk when the town was incorporated in 1911.

Sugar Mountain Resort Ski Area
Sugar Mountain begins its 40th Anniversary offering many winter sports and many other activities on the mountain for skiers and snowboarders. Twenty slopes and trails spread over 115 skiable acres provide for all levels of skiing and snowboarding. Beginners can enjoy the Magic Carpet area, Easy Street, and Lower Flying Mile, while the experts can challenge Tom Terrific, Boulder Dash, and Whoopdedoo. For those who just want to cruise the open slopes, try Big Red, there is terrain for all abilities. The lift system can transport 8,800 people up the mountain each hour. The Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) member school uses the American Teaching System and offers both group and private lessons daily. Test your skill on one of the many hits in Sugar’s Terrain Park. If the tabletop doesn’t challenge you perhaps the spine, 1/4 pipe or rail slide may. Sugar Mountain offers a 10,000 square foot refrigerated outdoor ice skating rink, and three lanes for snow tubing.

Ski Capitol of the Southeast
Banner Elk is in the epicenter of the high country and is the ski capitol of the South East with ski slopes at Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain. Both ski slopes offer ski rentals, ski shops, snowboarding, a place to eat, ice-skating, ski patrol, snow tubing and ski and snowboard learning centers. There are tow other winter sports places to visit while in the High Country, The First is Hawksnest a place where families can go snow tubing in Foscoe North Carolina. The Second destination is past Linville called Jonas Ridge Snow tubing which provides a quick thrill down five snow tubing lanes. This region of the high country of Banner Elk attracts thousands of people who love the great outdoors, southern culture, a perfect weather climate, friendly citizens, and year round four season activities and fun.

Woolly Worm Festival Banner Elk
Since 1978, residents of Banner Elk, North Carolina celebrate the coming of the snow ski season with an annual Wooly Worm Festival. Residents set aside time during the third week in October to determine which Wooly Worm will predict the severity of the coming winter. Those who attend can also partake in racing Wooly Worms up a three-foot length of string. It has been a long standing tradition to predict the severity of the weather by looking at the wooly worm. Each worm has 13 body segments, corresponding to the approximately 13 weeks of winter. Lighter, red-brown segments mean milder conditions during that week, whereas darker, black segments mean cold and snowy conditions. But the festival is not just about the Wooly Worm. Festival goers of all ages can enjoy crafts, food, and live entertainment. All portions of the proceeds from the festival go to support children’s charities throughout Avery County .  The festival held in front of Banner Elk Elementary School and is always the third week of October.

Banner Elk Heritage Museum
Experience 19th century history of life in Banner Elk and the High Country in the home of Samuel Henry Banner, one of Banner Elk’s original settlers. Wander back in time through the re-created household of the 1870-80s. The Banner House Museum is one of three sites in Avery County that were added to the state and national Civil War Trail in 2008. The Banner Elk Heritage Museum is a charitable and philanthropic entity, which devotes its energies and funds in an endeavor to protect the heritage of the greater Banner Elk area and strives to ensure that the infrastructure and cosmetic appearance of Banner Elk remains appealing to our local residents and visitors while retaining the “small town” atmosphere. The heritage of the Greater Banner Elk area will be recorded and maintained by the Foundation for future generations.

Lees McRae College
Situated nearly 4000 feet above sea level 460 acres of rolling hills and undeveloped forests. Experience all 4 incredible and inspiring seasons. Miles of hiking, running, and biking trails on campus. Located in the town of Banner Elk nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College has the highest elevation of any college campus east of the Mississippi. Boasting an invigorating and healthful climate, the Appalachian region is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The picturesque campus of Lees McRae College enhances the landscape and downtown area of beautiful Banner Elk NC and enlivens this sleepy mountain town. Lees McRae College is a private four year college that is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

Choose n Cut Christmas Tree Farms
Banner Elk is also where people come to choose and cut their own Christmas tree at one of the many tree farms in the area. The busiest time in for choose n cut start right before the Thanksgiving holiday and runs until Christmas Eve. Choose and cut farms will cut your tree down, wrap the tree, and place it in your car. Some farms give you hot cider or hot chocolate and even have hayrides and tours to make it an experience. The last few years the White House Christmas tree came form North Carolina.

Banner Elk Summer Concert Series
If you are a resident or a visitor traveling through the town of Banner Elk, or just looking for some relaxing down time listening to live music; the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce puts on a summer concert series every Thursday night at 6:30pm at Tate Evans Park. The summer concert series take place from June to September, so grab a lawn chair, bring some food, and listen to the sounds of mountain Appalachian music.Admission is Free.Food vendors will be on site, or bring your own picnic. Raffle tickets are sold. For info, call 828-898-8395 or click to (click here for other local concert series)

Lees McRae Summer Theatre
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre is a professional company that produces three large-scale musicals each summer in  Hayes Auditorium. Every Summer the Theatre Department at Lees McRae College puts on a variety of great musicals and plays that are full of excitement with dance and music. These performances are a mixture of students, locals, and part time summer residents. For tickets or more info, click to or call 828-898-8709.

Banner Elk Restaurants and Fine Dining
There are many fine dining choices with a variety of menus. If you are just entering Banner Elk coming up the mountain, the Tynecastle shopping area has choices such as Melange Bistro, Nick’s Restaurant and Bar, Hearthstone Tavern and Grill, and Bellas Italian. At the base of Sugar Mountain you will find Dilly’s Cafe, The Painted Fish, Scott’s Pizza Place, Sugar Mountain Cafe, Puerto Nuevo, and Tokyo Express. Further down highway 184 (Tynecastle Highway) entering the downtown Banner Elk area you are sure to find a great meal at the local restaurants of Stonewall’s, The Banner Elk Cafe, Lousiana Purchase Restaurant, Zuzda’s Tapas, Sorrento’s World Famous Italian Bistro, The Sushi Club, Barra, The Bayou Smokehouse and Grill, Artisnal, and if you are looking ofr dining with mountain views visit Jackalope’s View and Vault Bar; on your way up to Beech Mountain.

Shag at Sugar
Come dance with us in the moutnains at Sugar Mountian resort during the fall season. An afternoon of shag dancing with various performers, shag lessons by the Boone shag Club, live entertainment, food vendors, bounce arounds for the kids and fun for the whole family! Shag at Sugar brings out the lively locals and fall visitors to dance and have a great time A raffle to benefit the Banner Elk Fire Dept. will be held several times throughout the event. Some chairs will be available. You may bring your own chair, blanket, cooler,etc. Beer will be sold on the deck.

Sugarfest at Sugar Mountain
Sugarfest is a great way to kick start the winter season. The two-day long festival in December is packed with fun winter activities for all ages to enjoy, and coincides with Sugar Mountain’s Annual Adult Preseason Ski Clinic. Ski & snowboard equipment from just about every manufacturer displayed in store showrooms will be available for demos. At Sugarfest, the area’s most talented ice sculptors go head to head in an ice sculpting contest. Witness with your eyes as blocks of ice become works of art. After a hard day of skiing and snowboarding there’s nothing better than good food, warm drinks, ice sculpting, and fun music all available at Sugarfest, at Sugar Mountain. “Ready get set go!” is what you’ll hear if you enter the snowball eating contest at the festival. You’ll have two minutes to eat as many tasty snowball look a-likes as your stomach can stomach! Make sure you stick around for the end of the festival to watch a spectacular fireworks display.

Trunk or Treat
Every year on Halloween the Avery County residents, children and their families are invited to gather at Tate-Evans Park in Banner Elk for the Annual Halloween Trunk or Treat from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. This event is filled with Halloween thrills, a haunted house and tons of candy for the trick-or-treaters. This is a very safe and fun atmosphere and everyone is encouraged to participate in the “Trunk or Treat,” by bringing candy to share with the kids. Local Businesses have their fun by decorating a vehicle, and giving our candy. Prizes are awarded to the first, second and third place. A costume contest for the kids adds to the excitement, with prizes awarded by age group for the prettiest, scariest, cutest and most original.

Fine Arts and Mastercrafts Festival
The Fine Art and Mastercraft Festival welcomes visitors and artists to the quaint one red light town of Banner Elk, located in the majestic mountains of Western North Carolina. The Avery County Chamber of Commerce invites you to participate in the County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival. Since that time, many seasoned artists have stated that this is perhaps the most successful festival they participate in. This festival is strictly fine art and master crafts; all artists will participate by invitation only by a juried process. Mixed media, jewelry, sculpture, blown and stained glass, pottery, painting, photography, textiles, unique craft, furniture,   and wood, will be accepted. A combination of a very limited number of participants, a clientele which appreciates a “fine art only” type of show, the proper atmosphere and publicity are the ingredients which makes this an ongoing success each year.

Banner Elk Herb Festival
In the last weekend of May in front of the old Banner School Yard is the Banner Elk Herb Festival. This crafts and garden fair starts on Saturday at 9:ooam until 5:00pm and ends on Sunday at 4:00pm. The festival is comprised of over 50 vendors displaying fine art, jewelry, glass artists, wood makers, potters, quilt making, goat cheese, herb breads, homemade pies, a kid’s zone, dunk the fireman, and live music all day long.

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