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HomeRoad TripJourney Information to the Woolly Worm Pageant in Banner Elk, NC (Up...

Journey Information to the Woolly Worm Pageant in Banner Elk, NC (Up to date for 2023)

“In your mark. Get set. Go!” Virtually without delay, 1000’s of spectators started clapping and cheering. Reside commentary echoed throughout the competition floor, drowning out the murmurs of 100 conversations. When the race chief was overtaken by an opponent, the group erupted right into a thunderous ovation. It was a bewildering occasion to witness – particularly contemplating all of the hoopla was a couple of race between twenty-five woolly worms.

For many individuals, the woolly worm races are the explanation they attend the Woolly Worm Pageant. Nevertheless it’s not the one factor to do on the annual occasion – tons of of juried distributors promote their handcrafted paintings, meals vehicles feed the plenty, and leisure performs in each nook of the open discipline.

It was solely a coincidence that I checked right into a condominium for a one-week keep in Beech Mountain the day earlier than the competition. “Are you going to the Woolly Worm Pageant?” the girl requested as I picked up the keys. I didn’t know the very first thing about it – however it sounded intriguing. So the very subsequent day, I drove down the mountain and located myself on the most bewildering and thrilling competition I’d ever attended.

How Did the Woolly Worm Pageant Start?

In 1978, Grease premiered in the course of the summer time film season, NASA unveiled the primary group of feminine astronauts, and the residents of Banner Elk held the primary Woolly Worm Pageant. Though the concept for a fall competition had come about a couple of years earlier, it wasn’t till Jim Morton moved to the small mountain neighborhood that the woolly worm grew to become concerned.

Certainly one of Morton’s earliest adventures within the space was a visit to Grandfather Mountain. Through the go to, he realized concerning the native folklore of the woolly worm’s means to foretell the upcoming winter’s climate. He grew to become fascinated with the prognosticator.

READ MORE: Street Journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A couple of years later, Morton wrote an article for Mountain Residing Journal, together with a bit predicting the winter’s climate. He photographed the primary woolly worm he discovered and used that as the idea for his prediction. However the very subsequent day, he discovered one other woolly worm with a completely completely different forecast.

Morton was pleasantly pissed off by the encounter. How might the folklore be right if woolly worms provided competing predictions? He realized there wanted to be a method to choose which woolly worm can be topped as the last word prognosticator. He approached the committee formulating a plan for a fall competition and urged the featured occasion be a woolly worm race. The concept took off – and the Woolly Worm Pageant grew to become a actuality.

Quick Story

Folklore of the Woolly Worm’s Winter Prediction

The woolly worm’s physique is split into 13 sections – coinciding with the variety of weeks of winter. A furry coat develops on every part and is often coloured both brown or maroon. Based on folklore, a black part predicts harsh winter climate whereas a brown part predicts delicate climate.

In 2019, the autumn colours had simply began turning by the third weekend of October. However only a week later, the colours exploded throughout the mountains.

When is the Woolly Worm Pageant in 2023?

Each competition for the reason that inaugural in 1978 has been held on the third weekend of October. The timing can generally completely align with the height of fall colours within the space and normally contains cooler, extra snug daytime temps.

The 46th Annual Woolly Worm Pageant will happen on October 21-22, 2023, from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The Woolly Worm Pageant Race – the featured occasion for many attendees – begins round 9 a.m. on Saturday with the primary of a number of dozen heats. Every warmth lasts about quarter-hour with a couple of 10-minute break in between every. The ultimate race – resulting in the announcement of the champion – begins round 5 p.m.

The Company Woolly Worm Race is held on Sunday. This smaller race options woolly worms sponsored by native companies. The sponsoring enterprise of the winner will get a trophy and bragging rights for the next 12 months!

Woolly worms climb a four-foot string throughout every race – in the event that they climb in any respect.

The Woolly Worm Race

An elevated stage dominated one nook of the competition floor. A vibrant yellow wall – painted for distinction towards the woolly worms – stretched the size of the stage. Each few ft, a four-foot size of skinny white string ran vertically between two screws, creating “lanes” for the race.

Anybody can enter the woolly worm race. All that’s required is a small entry charge, a woolly worm, and a intelligent identify. Most individuals arrive with their very own woolly worms captured someplace within the western North Carolina mountains – however you possibly can additionally buy a caterpillar on the entry desk. As for the intelligent identify, a couple of examples embody Fuzz Lightyear, Dale Wormhardt, and Woolly Smith – what’s going to you identify yours?

The race has grown to tons of of entries in recent times, forcing the organizers to broaden the heats – or smaller qualifying races – to 25 racers at a time. The announcement for the upcoming warmth blares over the audio system, and handlers – woolly worms in hand – make their method to the stage.

Adam Binder – higher recognized on the competition as Mr. Woolly Worm II – lays out the bottom guidelines for the race. “Don’t place your woolly worm on the string till I say go. When you launch your woolly worm, you can not contact it once more till the race is over. Nonetheless, you’re allowed to blow on them with the straws we offered to encourage them to climb quicker.”

Adam Binder – often known as Mr. Woolly Worm II – in his official competition garb.

Binder took on the position because the official commentator of the woolly worm races in 2017 following the retirement of Roy Krege – often known as Mr. Woolly Worm – after serving within the place for 38 years. However Binder didn’t stroll into the place – he endured 7 years as an apprentice underneath Krege earlier than he was granted the moniker Mr. Woolly Worm II.

The stage was crowded with twenty-five handlers gingerly holding their woolly worms, a good friend or member of the family, and assist workers to observe the race. Binder lifts the microphone to his bearded face, a shadow forged from the ballcap lined in stuffed woolly worms. “In your mark. Get set. Go!”

Virtually without delay, 1000’s of spectators started clapping and cheering. Binder offered stay commentary, his voice echoing throughout the competition floor and drowning out the murmurs of 100 conversations. Wool-Verine was within the lead, however Night time Flurry was catching up quick – no, wait, now Pokey had taken the lead! The group erupted right into a thunderous ovation.

It was bewildering to witness – particularly contemplating all of the hoopla was a couple of race between twenty-five woolly worms. Ultimately, one of many caterpillars reached the purple tape on the high of the string, and a winner was introduced. Squeals pierced the air from the teenage winner.

In 1988 – simply earlier than the 11th annual Woolly Worm Pageant – Jim Morton wrote within the Johnson Metropolis Press, “To search out one particular caterpillar for an official prognostication is the important goal of the favored woolly worm races.”

And that’s precisely what they do. Dozens of heats all through the day – every lasting a mere quarter-hour – results in a semi-finals spherical, and ultimately the finals. Round 4 p.m. Saturday, because the crowds start to skinny and distributors begin winding down, the ultimate race begins. The race victor shall be topped the official prognosticator, and the colour bands learn aloud because the official prediction for the upcoming winter’s climate.

Did You Know?

The woolly worm isn’t a worm in any respect. It’s the Isabella Tiger Moth caterpillar. The caterpillar has a woolly fur coat that first led to the nickname, and the Southern folklore of its climate predictions cemented the identify. Nonetheless, all through the New England and Midwestern states, the caterpillar is thought by one other inaccurate nickname – the “woolly bear.”

There are all kinds of things on the market from the craft distributors, however all of them had one factor in widespread: they have been handcrafted.

Juried Craft Distributors

Ever for the reason that inaugural Woolly Worm Pageant, juried craft distributors have been a foremost staple of the weekend occasion. A competition committee examines the paintings of all candidates to find out if they’re genuinely handcrafted. Consequently, you received’t discover vintage sellers or greenback retailer candelabras at this competition!

On the heart of the competition grounds, almost 200 sensible white tent tops stand above the ocean of competition goers. Beneath every high, a vendor has tables, cabinets, and bins stocked stuffed with handcrafted paintings on the market. Woodworking, jewellery, clothes – you’ll additionally discover effective artwork images and gorgeous items of residence décor.

I’ll admit I didn’t spend a lot time shopping the seller cubicles – however others positive did. On the 10’ entrance to every sales space, a gaggle of window consumers jostled for place with earnest patrons. Individuals walked away with paintings wrapped in bubble wrap or purchasing luggage stuffed full. Two males slowly labored their approach by the group with an limitless string of excuse me’s as they carried a ginormous picket eagle carved with a chainsaw.

Meals on the Woolly Worm Pageant

I’m pretty sure the “secret” ingredient in all competition meals is grease. However I suppose that’s not a lot of a secret, contemplating I might hear the deep fryers fifty ft away from the closest meals truck.

A protracted row of meals vehicles and trailers lined the again of the competition grounds. Lights glittered overhead as skinny wisps of smoke disappeared into the sky. Monumental menu boards introduced nearly each form of meals you possibly can think about.

The strains moved shortly. In lower than 5 minutes, I walked away with a basket of chili cheese fries and hen tenders. However, hey – my watch had already notified me of attaining my strolling purpose for the day, so I might binge just a bit, proper?

I want I might have seen this signal earlier than parking almost a mile away in a gravel lot with none restrooms.

Parking on the Woolly Worm Pageant

I had it straightforward. From my condominium on Beech Mountain, all I needed to do was descend the mountain by a couple of dozen hairpin curves, and I got here out on Predominant Avenue in Banner Elk close to Lees-McRae Faculty. A vacant lot on the nook had been co-opted by a non-profit for the weekend – $10 money, and I used to be safely parked.

Relying on which path brings you into Banner Elk, you will have it that straightforward – however it might doubtlessly be way more troublesome. It appeared the worst method to enter city in the course of the competition was Tynecastle Freeway – NC Freeway 184 from close to Grandfather Mountain. Pageant goers crossed the street – typically exterior the crosswalks – halting site visitors.

Through the Woolly Worm Pageant, native non-profit organizations take the chance to boost cash for his or her causes. Parking heaps at Lees-McRae Faculty, native church buildings, and banks are taken over for the weekend, and parking is permitted for a small money charge. The typical attendee spends about 2-3 hours on the competition, so parking heaps typically have a couple of empty areas all through the day.

Win or lose (this couple clearly received) the most important tip I can provide anybody is simply to have enjoyable!

Ideas for the Finest Expertise

Even after studying all the things on this information – since you did learn all the things – there are nonetheless a couple of extra suggestions for the most effective expertise on the Woolly Worm Pageant.

  • Convey money to pay for parking and people distributors that don’t take credit score or debit playing cards – there are not any ATMs on the competition, however there are close by banks
  • Arrive early and go away late to keep away from the inevitable site visitors jam
  • Make reservations – if allowed – at native eating places if you would like lunch or dinner
  • Be ready for unpredictable climate – it may very well be scorching, chilly, raining, or snowing
  • If you are going to buy massive items of paintings, ask the seller should you can meet them after competition hours for simpler decide up
  • Don’t publicly denounce the flexibility of the woolly worm to precisely predict winter climate – that is to your personal security from the locals
The Blowing Rock Inn options no-frill, snug rooms about twenty-five minutes from Banner Elk.

Locations to Keep

The Banner Elk space is thought for its ski resorts – Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain are two of the most well-liked snowboarding locations within the state. Condos, rental houses, and cabins are plentiful all through the realm. Whereas these are nice choices, the total kitchens and areas may be overkill for a competition getaway over the weekend.

There are a couple of locations in Banner Elk to remain, together with a beautiful mattress and breakfast inside strolling distance of the Woolly Worm Pageant. However the most effective locations to remain for the competition are in close by Boone and Blowing Rock. Listed below are some choices that will help you plan the most effective weekend getaway for the competition.

Professional Journey Tip

Make weekend bookings for any of those properties as far prematurely as doable. Weekends are inclined to e-book up quick, particularly as soon as the autumn colours begin altering.

Banner Elk

The Finest Western is the one chain lodge in Banner Elk – thankfully, it’s an ideal choice. With an outside swimming pool and two beds in all of the rooms, the lodge is a superb choice for households. The one draw back to this motel is that it’s not inside strolling distance to the competition. Ebook now with or

The Little Predominant Avenue Inn & Suites is likely one of the finest choices for locations to remain in the course of the competition. With free on-site parking, you may go away the automotive behind whereas strolling about half a mile alongside Predominant Avenue to the competition. Every room is properly geared up for a wonderfully snug weekend getaway. Ebook now with

The Azalea Inn Mattress and Breakfast is a captivating and cozy place to remain – and the constructing sits on a nook lot throughout from the competition! It will present the shortest stroll and finest place to remain for this explicit weekend.

At The Perry Home Mattress and Breakfast, friends can sleep in renovated rooms inside a 1901 farmhouse. The B&B sits on a hill simply above Predominant Avenue – friends can sit on the lined entrance porch and watch the competition earlier than taking the quick stroll down the road.


TownePlace Suites is at all times an ideal place for households to remain. Free on-site parking, an indoor swimming pool, and an outside cooking space with a firepit are a couple of of the incredible facilities. The suites include absolutely geared up kitchens and sleeper sofas. Ebook now with or

Fairfield Inn & Suites affords an indoor swimming pool, free on-site parking, and cozy rooms with one or two beds. Ebook now with or

Hampton Inn & Suites is the lodge chain I like to recommend greater than some other. The complementary, scorching breakfast cooked each morning can’t be overwhelmed by some other lodge chain. Together with an indoor swimming pool, rooms for solo vacationers or whole households, and free on-site parking, this could be a incredible place to remain. Ebook now with or

Blowing Rock

The Chetola Resort is the head of in a single day lodging in Blowing Rock. The three-star resort options an indoor swimming pool, on-site bar and restaurant, room service, and epically snug rooms. It may be tempting to by no means go away the lodge! Ebook now with or

With an indoor swimming pool, complimentary breakfast, and loads of on-site parking, the Meadowbrook Inn can be an ideal place to remain in Blowing Rock. The rooms are merely beautiful with massive image home windows, non-compulsory gasoline fireplaces, and cozy furnishings. Ebook now with or

The Blowing Rock Inn is a no-frills roadside motel the place I spent a number of nights as soon as earlier than. The rooms are snug, simplistic, and rustic – however nothing was higher than the wicker furnishings on a lined entrance porch every morning to take pleasure in my espresso. Ebook now with or

In the event you’re in search of a extra conventional lodge expertise in Blowing Rock, the Vacation Inn Specific is about 5 minutes from the downtown space. The rooms are snug, however the lodge affords few facilities aside from free on-site parking and Wi-Fi. Ebook now with or

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