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So maybe he DOES know "Jack"!

This past weekend was a MADHOUSE in Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Boone, North Carolina with the 33rd Annual Woolly Worm Festival taking place in Banner Elk, the Valle Fair in Valle Crucis and ASU playing at home in Boone. On top of that we are currently experiencing peak Fall Color in the higher elevations. That made for ONE CRAZY traffic weekend all across the High Country. I’m certain the same could be said for all of the mountains of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic as Autumn color is bursting out everywhere where the temps have stayed cold overnight.

I’ve attended and witnessed these festivals for twenty-plus years and this past weekend was unquestionably THE BUSIEST I have ever seen at the Woolly Worm Festival and I think the same could be said of the previous weekend’s Sugar Mountain Octoberfest activities. ALL of the highways entering and exiting the areas were bumper-to-bumber and word has it that portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway resembled a parking lot.

If this any indication of things to come for the upcoming winter season – we are in for a HUGE attendance season!


I was headed over to the Woolly Worm Festival Saturday morning and I have never seen traffic backed up all the way to the entrance of Sugar Mountain when attempting to go to the festival. We got there around 11am or so and it was quickly apparent that this was going to be a record breaking crowd. Last year’s event was kind of cold and messy and that kept attendance down a bit. Not Saturday! The lines to the italian sausages, other tasty treats and vendors were literally 20-30 minutes long.

After grabbing a "chicken-on-a-stick" and some other equally unhealthy treats I and our crew settled into the dense crowd surrounding the Woolly Worm race board. As usual 7′ tall Tommy Burleson was there. So too was Roy "I love a microphone" Krege – who was blasting away all the names of racers, etc. Several other local business people and personalities were volunteering.

We raced a couple of slow worms and hung around just long enough to see "Jack" win the $1000 grand prize. I was totally prepared if the winning worm turned out to be a tan brown variety. (Lighter coloring means warmer weather for the upcoming winter.) I already had my, "Jack doesn’t know Jack" story written. I had to remind myself though that a winning worm a few years back was almost an albino worm and somehow Tommy and Roy read some black into that forecast. Thankfully that wasn’t needed this time as "Jack" was a mostly DARK BROWN worm with a fair number of black rings on the front end and a lot of black on the tail end.

Jack’s forecast for the coming winter (starting with the winter solstice on December 21) says there will be cold and snow through the holidays and on into late January. There will be a bit of a warming trend in the last week of January and first week of February with a chance for ice. February will continue cold, becoming extremely cold in March. The weeks leading to the spring equinox on March 20 will see the winter close with lots of snow.

<Photo by Jim Morton

The proud owner was five-year-old Cole Peurifoy of Concord, N.C. As you might expect he was one proud kid who was smiling from ear to ear – while holding an envelope full of cash.


As mentioned earlier, we’re at PEAK color right now and some of the lower elevations will be peaking this weekend. There’s still plenty of great color and leaves of all shapes and colors blanketing the secondary roadways. If you have a chance to make it up this weekend you’re in for a treat and the traffic should be far less than this past couple of weekends with all of the festivals taking place.

We’ll be providing more detailed Winter Weather Forecasts over the next few days as well as some exciting news about this winter’s plans for SkiSoutheast.com, HighCountryWebCams.com and HighCountryWeather.com. Be sure to check back DAILY NOW as we begin full time updates.

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