To assist local High Country businesses with financial hardships that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, the Re-Energize Watauga Fund is a collaborative effort among Watauga County, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and Mountain BizWorks, a U.S. Treasury certified nonprofit.

On Saturday, June 20, from 5-9 p.m., the Appalachian Theatre on King Street in Boone will host a live broadcast of Re-Energize Watauga: LIVE at the Appalachian Theatre, which will be available through SkyLine/SkyBest’s local access cable channel and across platforms including Facebook Live and a dedicated YouTube channel, according to Keith Martin, vice chair of the theater.

Local and regional talent will be showcased during each hour of Re-Energize Watauga: LIVE, beginning with Todd Wright and Friends, the “Ambassador of Jazz for the Carolinas,” at 5 p.m., followed by the Harris Brothers at 6 p.m.

Darin and Brooke Aldridge will take the stage at 7 p.m., and the concert will wind down with the Jeff Little Trio at 9 p.m.

“The arts play a crucial and sometimes unnoticed role in uplifting all of us. Healing arts help light the pathway along life’s journey. Since art expresses and reflects human emotion, it’s a logical progression to bring talented artists together to do what we do best: to entertain by taking the audience on a journey of deep reflection all the way to joyous laughter,” said Wright.

Danny Wilcox, a producer of the live show, board of trustees member and owner of Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone, said, “Boone has always been known as a town that gives generously when people are truly in need. I know with the virtual show at the new App Theatre, we will be able to demonstrate to the world how well we come together, this time to help local businesses in our community.”

Online donations can be made throughout the broadcast and a call center will be set up to receive donations during the benefit performance, similar to a telethon, according to Martin.

The event’s goal revolves around providing local businesses with low-interest loans, distributed by Mountain BizWorks and its High Country Regional Manager Chris Grasinger. These loans provide capital to meet the most pressing needs and successfully navigate around the pandemic, according to a Mountain BizWorks statement.

“Hospitality and other tourism related industries have been bleeding money out of their bank accounts. This has been primarily due to the state placing restrictions on their operations or a general lack of sales because travel has been limited for much of the U.S. population. Many rural small businesses either missed the opportunity to receive federal funds or did not receive enough funding from federal relief programs,” said Grasinger.

“Not only has Watauga County been impacted by the lack of tourism-based commerce,” he added, “but the local university was forced to remove most of the student body from campus, due to COVID-19 … Students also attract sports fans and family to visit and spend their money here, while enjoying everything Watauga offers,” which includes a feeling of freedom, adventure and community.

“The loan terms are simple and straightforward. An applicant that qualifies and can provide us the required documentation should be able to have funding in their bank account within two weeks or less of application. We need to spread the word and get this financing to as many local businesses as possible,” said Grasinger.

Additional information and applications are available at www.mountainbizworks.org.

For information about the Re-Energize Watauga: LIVE at the Appalachian Theatre event, visit www.apptheatre.org.

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