Special Report to Blowing Rock News. January 18, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Finalists were announced last week for the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce annual awards, with the winners to be announced at the organization’s annual luncheon banquet, Meadowbrook Inn, February 9th.
“Our awards program is now member driven,” noted Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Charles Hardin. “Through an online anonymous survey facility, our members put forward who they think is deserving in each category and offer comments as to why those nominees should win the award. Our awards sub-committee tallies the nominations, evaluates the comments, and settles on three finalists. It is really quite an honor just to be one of the three finalists because that whole process was driven by your peers.
“Once the finalists have been determined by the committee,” Hardin added, “then another ballot goes out in which all of our members are invited to vote for one of the three finalists in each category. So again, the eventual list of winners is peer driven.
“I want to encourage all of our members to attend our annual awards luncheon at the Meadowbrook Inn,” concluded Hardin. “It’s a great opportunity to see friends, meet new people and network in the business community. The added bonus is that you get to see for whom the membership voted to win these awards.”
List of Finalists In Each Category
- Rustique — beautifully renovated home to a new restaurant that is modern, hip and rustic all at the same time. It has the most dramatic wine cellar in Blowing Rock, exceptional artwork adorns the interior, and the restaurant serves as a draw to our community. The renovations completed on this building have created a whole new dynamic.
- Sunny Rock/Foggy Rock — in Sunny Rock, Burt and Yvonne Myers have turned a so-so building into THE community meeting place. The horseshoe shaped counter inside is the perfect place to solve ALL of Blowing Rock’s (and the world’s) problems! In addition, the Myers’ have completed the renovation inside and out, including an addition on the south end of the building. Formerly a bit of an eyesore, now we can call it an icon in the community.
- American Legion — a legion of supporters led by the Historical Society helped provide extra funding, and the American Legion Building has been transformed from a worn, even decaying building into a beautiful centerpiece of the village. GREAT community meeting facility.
- High Gravity Adventures — a new addition to the High Country’s outdoor recreational options with an obvious commitment to excellence in its construction and design. High Gravity Adventures has been enjoyed by thousands of visitors in its first year and has introduced the region’s tourism industry to an entirely new offering of recreational adventure, as well as a course in personal growth and development for young and old alike.
- Memorial Park Rotary Gazebo — By tearing down an historic, but decaying eyesore and replacing it with a more beautiful and more useful facility, the Town and the Rotary Club have hit a grand slam home run for Blowing Rock.
- Blowing Rock School Playground — The news playground at Blowing Rock School is not just safer and more fun for the kids of Blowing Rock, but also for the kids of visitors to Blowing Rock. This is a remarkable project that was completed with broad community support.
- Blowing Rock Art & History Museum — under new leadership, the museum has expanded its community involvement, including in several Chamber events, and opened its doors to many non-profits for use of its space at no charge. This wonderful and creative museum provides free admission on Thursdays to anyone and everyone, and continues to provide arts education opportunities to area elementary schools — at a time when Watauga County has cut back on arts education.
- Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show — an event covering three weeks each summer that continues to draw throngs of people to our community, year after year. It is the oldest continuous-running equestrian event in America and, for many of its participants and spectators from off the mountain alike, has become part of an annual pilgrimage back to Blowing Rock.
- Ensemble Stage — continues to work diligently to provide live professional theatre in our Village, even donating thousands of hour to the children of Blowing Rock and Watauga County teaching, judging and supporting Shooting Stars. They continue to raise the level of entertainment options available in town.
Service To The Community
- 4 Forty Four — Kevin Troyer and his company have donated countless manhours supporting Blowing Rock community causes. Kevin also volunteers for many Chamber projects, as well as on behalf of other non-profits. 4 Forty Four was intimately involved in the Rotary Gazebo project. By training for and running a half-marathon, Cory Bettis raised over $2,000 and brought a significant amount of awareness to MRKH syndrome, a congenital abnormality that affects one in every 5,000 women.
- App Ski Mountain — initiated tremendous philanthropic leadership this year with an unprecedented collaboration in support of Middle Fork Greenway. Extended skiing operations over Easter weekend and donated a large percentage of revenue to the Greenway, but Brad Moretz and Brenda Speckman made a special effort to reach to local businesses, inviting them to join in the Easter weekend benefit. More than 55 businesses participated and over %50,000 was raised.
- VPC Builders — terrific volunteer work by a large number of employees with Purple Heart Homes, rehabbing military veterans’ homes. Many, if not most employees are donating their time at least one weekend each month. VPC marketing director Whitney Burns organized the Purple Heart Homes chapter in the High Country.
Jerry Burns Ambassadorial Award
- Wayne Underwood — the owner of the Mystery Hill attraction, does a lot through his business to promote Blowing Rock and the High Country. “He loves the community and always has a smile on his face and enjoys helping others. At Mystery Hill, Wayne has created a family-friendly atmosphere. For Wayne, running Mystery Hill is not a job, it is a passion.”
- David Rogers — provides the most extensive coverage of what goes on in and around and is important to Blowing Rock. His coverage of App State, the Carolina Panthers, the Belk Bowl, international soccer matches and other extra-regional happenings is taking the Blowing Rock brand to other parts of the world. His recent USBWA writing award alongside reporters from Sports Illustrated and the Washington Post brings positive NATIONAL attention to Blowing Rock. His personal touch — especially his photography — to coverage of Watauga High School and Blowing Rock School is loved by students, parents and their friends alike. I understand that Blowing Rock News has site visitors from all 50 U.S. states and more than 150 countries, providing broad exposure for the uniqueness that is Blowing Rock. Very generous with the student essay contest on Town government at the Chamber’s Candidates’ Forum
- Cathy Robbins — as an owner-operator of Tweetsie Railroad, Cathy Robbins has brought Blowing Rock-sourced joy to so many children and parents alike that visit the area, with a large number arriving in the High Country specifically to experience Tweetsie and finding other things to do while they are here. Beyond that, Cathy’s two years of service as president of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce brought committed, insightful and enthusiastic leadership to the organization. Chris Robbins’ grandfather, Grover Robbins, helped launch the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce more than 80 years ago. He must be beaming with pride that a Robbins family member is such an important part of the Chamber’s leadership, even today. A couple of years ago, as the Chamber’s new president Cathy initiated a theme of collaboration for the organization’s members and their work on behalf of the community. With many new members and Chamber leaders stepping up, Cathy has been instrumental in nurturing a Chamber organization that is stronger than ever.
Business Of The Year
- Kilwin’s of Blowing Rock — They bring so many folks together, whether out of town visitors, family get togethers, or intimate first dates over an ice cream cone. Always fascinating to watch the fudge being made. The Williamsons are always responsive to community needs, such as donating gift certificates to the Blowing Rock School winners of the Blowing Rock News essay contest, “I Am Running For Mayor of Blowing Rock and…”
- Mystery Hill — An often overlooked attraction in Blowing Rock, but one that is unique to the Blowing Rock experience. Thousands of families have visited and return year after year. Hundreds of kids have worked there. The story of Mystery Hill is amazing, captivating, just rich in history and amazement.
- Blue Ridge Mountain Club — Continues to grow in the number of new homes being built in the development, bringing new families to Blowing Rock and the High Country. Jim Pitts contributes significantly to Chamber and business community leadership.