>The Great Woolly Worm Caper


I understand the title sounds a bit wimpy for a Biker Blog. What can I say? There are all kinds of bikers out here: all of us have to live somewhere and all of us enjoy the fun and unique programs the forefathers of our districts have set into motion.

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Yesterday was just one such day for me.  I attended “Woolly Worm Fest” in Banner Elk, N.C.  I happened upon the knowledge to the existence of this strange celebration for this fabled caterpillar while riding through Banner Elk 3 weeks ago. I had stopped to photograph a beautiful stone dorm from the Lees/McRae Collage.

Lil Girl in front of Lees-McRae College.

While casting about for the perfect angle to shoot from I noticed a banner hanging from an antique style street lamp advertising the upcoming “Woolly Worm Festival”.  I made note of it and now Saturday, October 16th had arrived. I’m was broke and heading for a Woolly Worm fun fest.  (I’m always broke, but I  find funds in the couch and  in last years winter jackets for great local rides like this!)

This ride started out kinda “IFFY”.   I cranked the “Lil Girl”. She was a bit stiff from the cold, but coughed her way awake. Spitting, kicking and generally causing a ruckus, I eased her out of the driveway.  I figured she was misbehaving due to the early morning chill.  She’s been such a Florida girl her whole life.  By the time I arrive at the the top of the hill, making ready to enter the main stream of traffic…SHE DIES! Spitting and coughing, she is acting like she’s starving for either air or gas. I check the odometer once more. 78 miles shouldn’t cause this.  Rather than try starting her on the hill with my ass trying to keep her from rolling, falling over or any of the other handfull of things that happen while starting a bike while sitting uphill/vertical: I turn the bars hard to the left and roll backward. This put me horizontal on the hill allowing me to crank once more.  She’s running strong, kinda. It’s obvious the problem is low fuel. I roll back home. Add a pint of gas from the lawn mower ration and head off again.

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I stopped at “my” gas station: she full and ready for some miss-use on my part. Some times ya just have to twist the throttle hard, lean low, and enjoy the sensations of speed and corners.  That ‘s what I did. Dragging pipes and throwin’ sparks up the mountain until I reached the top and the little town of Roan. I behaved myself through there, the “leafers” are out. The roads are clogged with folks going slow, windows rolled down and heads with cameras leaning through their opening as far as they dared.  Leaf’ers are OK folk. Some times.

The traffic down the other side of the mountain to the next mountain top was thick. A bunch of us folk all heading for Banner Elk and the Woolly Worm Festival.  Slowly winding my way up the mountain, I enjoyed the slow pace by looking down over the edges of the roadway, into gorges and valleys.  Watching the small streams and creeks as they wound their way past the boulders and forest looking for the path of least resistance to the floor of the valley. I’m often mesmerized by these sights and must keep reminding myself I’m driving.

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Rolling into Banner Elk was an eye opener. I guess people come here as far away as Florida and such.  The folks who lived close to the grounds were charging as much as 5 bucks to park in their yards. NOPE, I’m so cheap when ever ole George gets a chance to peek at the sun, he goes blind.  I found street parking less than a block away for free.   I walk to the festival grounds, which is also the Banner Elk Elementary School Grounds. Pay my 5 dollar entry fee and commence to checking stuff out.  First, my  ears are treated to some wonderful Jazzy/Bluesy music.  I haven’t heard such happy sounding music since I managed the Historic Blue Star up in Lancaster Pa. I was transfixed. I sat to listen, watch and enjoy the music. It was almost heaven.

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After the band stopped, there was a boat load of “CLOGGING” happening in the parking lot. My daughter learned to clog when she was young. I’d rather not watch.

I meandered among the vendors whose tents formed alleyways to funnel the crowds past their wares.   One of the first tents I encountered was sponsored by Lees/McCrae’s collage Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute.

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At the end of the 1st row of vendors was the Woolly Worm Stage. Here is where the proud Moms and Dads of the Woolly Worms took their chances on the speed and agility of their Woolly Worm children.

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The people racing worms went for five years to way past 80.

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Here you can see worm number 13…as he makes his way foot over multi-ped foot to the top! He was proclaimed the winner of this heat!

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There were so many vendors with great and interesting stuff. From people who carved fish:

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To people who sold Woolly Worms and memorabilia:

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I liked this festival because it has retained it’s small town flavor. The vendors were crafts people for the most part. I’m sure they travel on a circuit, but they are the kind of vendors who are your neighbors. Whose craft work is notable, yet affordable. Oh and food…to die for. I couldn’t get close to the food vendors. I wasn’t that hungry to stand in a slow moving line for food. You know, I just don’t like leaving my Lil Girl on the street for too long. It was time to wonder on out of there, as I made my way to the exit I was able to grab a few more cool photos.

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I don’t know who these folks are, they were just posing with the worm.

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Who brings their dogs to these things? The advertising even said “NO DOGS”. It’s a good thing they had it. Can’t imagine, but I bet the parents of these guys would of left the dogs in the car.

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Right after I shot this photo, a kid breaks away from his dad, runs to Ronald yelling “Ronald! Ronald! Do you have a hamburger for me?” Hugged Ronald’s legs and wouldn’t let go! So cute!

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These were the only other bikes I saw here besides mine.

OK Folks… I’m gone! I’ve got more stories to write!
Thanks for coming! YOU ROCK!


8 comments on “>The Great Woolly Worm Caper”

  1. >I have never even heard of a Woolly Worm Festival, let alone been to one. I can’t believe it’s been going 33 years! Good job you made it back home for some more gas – you could have been stranded miles away.

  2. >You always find the coolest things! Who would have thought, a "Woolly Worm" festival! Thanks for once again sharing your journeys with us M!

  3. >Gary, It wouldn't be the first time I have run out of gas hundreds…yes even a couple of thousand miles away from home! I'm very glad I didn't have to hoof it back home…Facey…I'm glad to see you! Thanks for posting!

  4. >So cool.Like your blog!

  5. >Scrubs dvd, thanks brother scrubs…

  6. >strange fest, to be sure…

  7. >If my cat were there all those little fuzz-balls would have gotten to the top of the racetrack a lot quicker.

  8. >A festival for little ole me. Awww shucks. Looks like a cool little happening though really. Down home stuff ,ya gotta love it.

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D. Brent Miller

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