Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.

April 18, 1968

The April 18, 1968, edition of the Watauga Democrat announced the recovery of stolen merchandise by the Boone Police Department. According to the article, more than $3,000 in stolen merchandise was recovered by the Boone Police, including $1,750 in saxophones and electric guitars from Cates Music Store, said to be in Johnson City, Tenn.

The newspaper stated that Police Chief Red Lyons served warrants issued by the Johnson City Police Department, which led to the arrest of three students from Appalachian State University. Other recovered items included three televisions, six radios, a record player and a stereo tape player from the Steele Rulane Gas Company in Lenoir as well as rubberized boots believed to have been from the Discount House in North Wilkesboro.

April 15, 1988

On April 15, 1988, the Watauga Democrat ran the headline “Merle Watson Remembered.” The accompanying article stated that music legend Doc Watson had called a press conference that Wednesday at his home in Deep Gap to announce that tickets were available for a music festival to benefit a memorial to his son Merle at Wilkes Community College.

According to the newspaper, the festival was to feature more than 25 “cream of the crop country and bluegrass musicians,” including Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins and Jack Lawrence. The festival, which would eventually become known as MerleFest, was established to fund the Merle Watson Memorial Garden for the Senses, which is now a permanent fixture on the Wilkes Community College campus.

According to the article, Watson stated that Merle Watson was more than a son, “He was a friend; Merle was my eyes in showing me the things that I could touch with my hands and explaining to me things I couldn’t touch.”

April 20, 1998

“Gay Pride marches through Boone for first time” was a headline featured on the first page of the April 20, 1998, edition of the Watauga Democrat. The newspaper stated that despite the rain, a crowd of approximately 150 people celebrated unified diversity by marching through the Appalachian State University’s campus and downtown Boone.

“I think a celebration of pride for our community was long overdue for Boone,” said student organizer Erin Iannacchione in the 1998 article. “We encountered no opposition, which is usually a component in gay pride marches rallies.”

According to the Watauga Democrat, other activities that took place during the weekend pride rally included the painting the River Street tunnel, a poetry reading at the BeansTalk java house and renditions of three performance pieces about women at the Plemmons Student Union.

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