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Christmas season kicks off this weekend in Blowing Rock

BLOWING ROCK — The holiday season is coming to Blowing Rock in the days after Thanksgiving as the town will host its Christmas in the Park and Lighting of the Town events on Friday, Nov. 29, followed by a Christmas parade on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The festivities take place in Memorial Park starting at 1 p.m. with the opportunity to meet Santa. Games and crafts begin at 2 p.m. as do the popular hayrides. Live music starts at 2:30 and runs through the evening hours.

At 4 p.m., the gingerbread house contest winners will be announced and free hot cocoa and apple cider will be available.

The big event is the lighting of the town, which takes place at 5:45 p.m., shortly after sunset, when all of the park’s lights are turned on at once.

Saturday, Nov. 30, features the traditional Christmas parade along Main Street. Thousands attend the festivities, which include floats, animals, costumes and much more.

For more information, contact Blowing Rock Parks & Recreation at 828-295-5222 or visit www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/government/parks-and-recreation-and-landscaping.

After the parade, the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum’s annual holiday open house takes place from 3-4 p.m. Hot cider and a family craft session will be available to patrons, and the event is free to attend. For more information, visit blowingrockmuseum.org or call BRAHM at (828) 295-9099

The 83-acre Chetola Resort will be lit up as well on Friday, Nov. 29, as its annual Festival of Lights show starts at dusk. The lights are available for public viewing and will be on nightly through the end of Blowing Rock WinterFest on Sunday, Jan. 26.

Nov. 29 and 30 at Chetola will also feature free visits from Santa from 5:30-9:30 p.m. each night in the Evergreen Room. During the same hours, horse and carriage rides that go around the lake will be available. The horse and carriage rides are $20 for adults, $10 for kids ages 3 through 12 and free for kids ages 2 and under. There will also be a cookie decorating contest each night from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

For more information on Chetola Resort’s Festival of Lights or Thanksgiving weekend events, call (800) 243-8652 or visit chetola.com/thanksgiving-weekend-events.

For the holiday season, Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock is hosting its Christmas Tree Lot from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Bolick and Traditions Pottery to hold wood kiln opening Nov. 30

BLOWING ROCK — After not having a wood kiln opening for more than a year, Bolick and Traditions Pottery is gearing up for its post-Thanksgiving event with more than 100 pieces that will be up for sale on Saturday, Nov. 30.

Located at 4443 Bolick Road in Lenoir, in the Blackberry Community south of Blowing Rock, the unveiling of the pottery always brings a crowd. At the sound of a bell, the pottery goes on sale and enthusiasts will race to grab their favorite piece before someone else does. In a matter of seconds, dozens of the pieces are claimed.

“(There will be) lots of Santa face jugs by Michael Calhoun; swirl vases and teapots by Lula Owens Bolick and Glenn Bolick; owl mugs by Lula and Ina Owens Bolick; Janet Bolick Calhoun will have teapots, Rebekah pitchers and candlesticks,” the event’s Facebook page states. “Guest potters this year will be Scott and Kaylee Eggers of Ten Hands Pottery and Millie Goodnight of Goodnight Pottery.”

Customers can complete their purchase at either Bolick or Traditions Pottery stores on site. Both stores are open until 4 p.m.

The wood kiln opening will also feature Woody the life-sized wooden horse and an onsite lunch with live music.

Bolick Pottery was opened by Lula and Glenn Bolick in 1973. Traditions Pottery was started by their daughter and son-in law, Janet and Mike Calhoun. The family operates a store in downtown Blowing Rock, located at 1155 Main St., Blowing Rock.

Watauga Playmakers win third state championship

GREENSBORO — History was made on Nov. 22 when the Watauga High School Pioneer Playmakers swept all four major award categories at the state play festival sponsored by the North Carolina Theatre Conference.

The troupe won the coveted audience choice Distinguished Play Award for their production of “Ernest and the Pale Moon” by Oliver Lansley. WHS is one of two schools from North Carolina that will advance to the regional festival in Kentucky, along with Sanderson High School in Raleigh. The show will represent North Carolina at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Louisville, Ky., from Feb. 26–March 1, 2020.

Coincidentally, Sanderson also chose “Ernest and the Pale Moon” for its festival entry — marking the first time that NCTC has advanced two productions of the same play to the regional festival.

This is the third state theater championship for the school — following previous wins for the play “Dearly Departed” in 1999 (directed by Trimella Chaney) and the production of “John Lennon and Me” in 2007 (directed by Sarah Miller).

Theater instructor Zach Walker received the prestigious John W. Parker Award for Excellence in Directing, named for the founder of the Carolina Dramatic Association — forerunner of NCTC.

“In this moment, life is in my face,” Walker said. “Process precedes product. And the product (sometimes) hits its mark. However, the journey is always the real reward.”

WHS juniors Elise Bednar and Zeb Scott were both presented Outstanding Achievement in Acting awards for their portrayals in the roles of Gwendoline and Ernest, respectively. The two students each received scholarship offers totaling $216,000 from NCTC partners Catawba College, Greensboro College and Lenoir-Rhyne University. These scholarships are contingent upon meeting admissions requirements and enrollment at the respective schools.

These substantial awards may also be enhanced with academic scholarships, if Bednar and Scott meet those requirements.

Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott said he was thrilled by the success of the school’s theater program and the awards earned by the Playmakers students and teachers.

“The quality of the program and their showing at the state level reflect both the talent of our students and the commitment of our school and community to our arts programs,” Elliott said. “We know that a well-rounded educational experience includes participation in high quality arts programs. I am grateful to our teachers, parents and community for supporting these students and encouraging their success.”

More than a dozen parents accompanied the 23 members of the Pioneer Playmakers who comprise the cast and crew for the production. Paulette Marty, a theater professor at Appalachian State University and mother of cast member Fiona Marty, said she was proud of the group’s “amazingly precise, ensemble-created work and their across-the-board investment and focus.”

“The thing that I’m most proud of is their loving supportiveness for all the other schools, and the way the kids from those schools repaid them in kind,” Marty said. “The screams of joy for them from the other kids when they won was the best part of this whole journey. If you want to bolster your faith in the power of supportive human community, go to a NCTC theater festival. It was beautiful.”

In 2017, Miller and Walker were named co-recipients of the K-12 Theatre Arts Educator Award — presented by the NCTC Board of Directors to recognize individuals who are active members and have exhibited leadership roles in their community.

Speaking on behalf of NCTC, Executive Director Angie Hays said that the Watauga High School theater department is a shining example of artistic excellence.

“Sarah Miller and Zach Walker are extraordinary arts educators who teach their students to work hard, to support one another and to celebrate their peers,” Hays said. “Sarah and Zach believe in the value of service and NCTC is grateful for their work as regional High School Play Festival hosts, as well as for their leadership as mentors of new theater teachers.”

Hays said she was most impressed by Watauga’s approach to theater.

“The work is the cake, the work is where we put our heart and soul, and awards are simply the icing,” Hays said. “Zach and Sarah inspire me; I’m grateful for their service, and I know their work has enriched the lives of countless students, parents and members of the Boone community.”

Walker is working with a group of parents to schedule an encore performance of their production to raise funds for the regional festival. The school has already begun accepting contributions to the WHS Theatre Department, which can be mailed to the Pioneer Playmakers at 300 Go Pioneers Drive in Boone.