Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Historic Courthouse Hosts Christmas Movie Nights

It's time for some Christmas family fun! Every weekend between now and Christmas the Mitchell County Historic Courthouse in Bakersville will be hosting Christmas movie nights. Come to the courthouse on December 4th, 10th and 18th for an evening of holiday movies with friends! Doors open at 7 p.m. Showtime is 7;30 p.m. Refreshments will be available!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Crimson Laurel Gallery Presents "The Significant Gift"

On November 26th , Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville, North Carolina presents "The Significant Gift...A Group Exhibition of Fine Art Jewelry". Deb Karash, the curator of this exhibit and a nationally recognized jeweler from Marshall, NC has put together an exceptional collection of art jewelry from around the country.

Because we know how much our customers enjoy buying and building collections of high quality studio crafts for themselves we want to make it easy to share that experience during the holidays. With this in mind, Crimson Laurel Gallery has invited Deb Karash to curate an exhibition of studio jewelry. She has chosen some of her favorite jewelers from across the country to exhibit for the first time at Crimson Laurel Gallery. One can look forward to seeing jewelry that is elegant, avant garde, playful, and charming. There will everything from river rocks to diamonds. Each unique gift will arrive beautifully wrapped and will include an artist statement and gift card. Crimson Laurel Gallery will ship each gift to its fortunate recipient in time for Christmas when ordered by December 15. The Significant Gift, a new tradition at Crimson Laurel Gallery.

This exhibition will open on November 26th and remain through the end of the year. Each piece will be available online on November 26th. For more information call 828-688-3599 or online at

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree Gears Up for the Season

Check out the latest email blast from the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree! Be sure you are signed up to receive emails from us!

Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree Gears Up for the Season

Monday, October 4, 2010

Western North Carolina will always be home to Fox Business Anchor Gerri Willis

Western North Carolina will
always be home to Fox
Business anchor Gerri Willis

By James Shea • October 3, 2010

Asheville Citizen Times

Gerri Willis moved away from Western North
Carolina when she was young, but her heart remains
in the mountains.

Willis is a successful journalist in New York City and
hosts “The Willis Report,” a daily business show on
Fox Business Network.

“I have lived a lot of places,” Willis said. “I like
Spruce Pine the most.”

Her family, both on her mom's and dad's sides, trace
their roots back generations in the Spruce Pine area.
Her dad moved to Ohio when she was in elementary
school, but Willis still calls Spruce Pine home.

She recently returned to Spruce Pine and organized
a 75th birthday party for her mother, Betty Conley.
Held at Little Switzerland Inn, the party involved
Willis and her extended family around Spruce Pine.

“She considers Mitchell County her home,” Conley
said. “That makes the people of Spruce Pine happy.”

Getting into the news business

Willis was born in Waynesville but graduated from
high school in Ohio.

She earned a political science degree from Miami
University in Ohio.

After college, she took a job at a small newspaper in
Lima, Ohio, where she covered everything from city
hall to local crime.

Shortly after arriving at the paper in the early '80s, a
local Ford plant announced that it would lay off a
substantial amount of the work force. Willis became
curious and spent a lot of time understanding the
impacts on the local community.

“I realized that the Ford plant would have more
impact than the mayor,” Willis said.

With that epiphany, Willis has focused her career on
business writing. She did a lot of profile writing in
her early years on the people who ran businesses.

“Like a lot of business journalists, I did business
journalism from a feature standpoint,” Willis said.

But Willis sought more knowledge. For example, at
the Ford plant in Lima, she wanted to understand
where and how economics, finance and business
decisions affected people's personal lives.

“I knew it was so meaningful to people and a lot of
people didn't have the knowledge,” Willis said.

Knowing she needed more education, Willis landed
a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia University
in New York. The yearlong program teaches
journalists about business, economics and finance.

She stayed in the Big Apple after graduation and
worked at various print publications, including Dow
Jones and Crain's. She eventually landed a position
at CNN, working as a business correspondent.

“It wasn't that different,” Willis said of the transition
to television. “The content is the same, but the
vehicle is different.”

She moved up through the ranks and became co-
anchor of a show called the “Flip Side.” It was a
panel of three women who talked about top stories
of the day.

Willis was then tapped to host a program on CNN
called “Your Bottom Line.” The show explored
personal finance and helped viewers find ways to
save money.
Her own show

Fox Business Network courted her by offering her a
show. In March, the network launched “The Willis
Report,” which focuses on personal finance and
includes discussions with high-profile experts.

“At Fox Business, they have been so nice to me,”
Willis said. “I get to be involved in planning every

She cited Fox News CEO Roger Ailes as an

Willis wants to stay away from the “tick, tock of the
market” and instead help people understand
complex topics. During a recent show, she
interviewed a tea party activist and pressed the
activist of what areas of government the tea party
advocates cutting. Another show took an off-beat
look at the inheritance tax and interviewed a rancher
in Texas and then had a discussion with Steve
Forbes, Grover Norquist and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch,

“We really tap into a wide variety of people, a wide
variety of experts but also regular people,” Willis

The show often ends with a round table discussion
on current events, often discussing nonbusiness-
related topics.

“It's hard to do a whole show just on businesses,”
Willis said.

Conley said Willis was always a shy girl who studied

She always seemed to have her nose in a book but
has blossomed over the years.

“She has worked hard to get where she is,” Conley
said. “We are proud of her.”

Willis is married and lives with her husband, David

She enjoys cooking and gardening in her free time.

“The reason I bought the home was to grow my own
tomatoes, which is just like Western North Carolina,”
Willis said.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chamber Continues Craft Your Adventure Promotion with new Craft Ads

The Mitchell County Chamber's advertising and marketing promotion "Craft Your Adventure" continues with two new craft focused ads for Bakersville and Spruce Pine. The new ads will first be featured in the November issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

"We know through research that the two main reasons visitors come to our area are Craft and Outdoor Recreation," said Patti Jensen, Mitchell County Chamber's Tourism Director. "We have created an advertising and marketing plan around these two assets, which we believe Mitchell County has the best and most of!" 2010 ads and marketing efforts have promoted the outdoor recreation assets of Roan Mountain, trout fishing, biking, birding, gem mining, zip lining, canoeing to name a few. Craft ads for Bakersville and Spruce Pine have highlighted Penland School of Craft, the Toe River Studio Tour and the abundance of area galleries and studios. Individual ads for craft and outdoor recreation have been created for Spruce Pine and Bakersville.

"We have seen tremendous positive response from these ads and our public relations and marketing efforts," said Jensen. "Our goal is to continue to work to make sure that everyone knows that Mitchell County is THE place for the best craft and outdoor recreation."

Monday, September 20, 2010

We are happy to share this great video on Chamber member Woody's Chair Shop!

Making a CLEAN LIVING with Soap

An excerpt from the NC Farm Bureau Magazine

Farm Bureau Members on both ends of North Carolina have found soap making to be a crucial part of their livelihoods. One chose to embark on the endeavor as a way to include a value-added product to a goat and beekeeping operation. The other ended up in the soap business after exhausting just about every other potential occupation.

Research and planning is exactly what Mitchell County Farm Bureau Members Tim Tyndall and Karen Wylie did when they decided to open up the Soap Shed out of their home. Living less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway gave Tyndall and Wylie an initial outlet to market their soap, a venture that was seen as the last gasp toward a sustainable living after the downturn of the furniture and textile industries in Spruce Pine.

“Have you heard people say necessity is the mother of invention? Well you’re looking at it,” Tyndall says.

Tyndall put his advanced degrees in biology and engineering to work to create the five base formulas he now uses to make 130 different varieties of soap. Wylie put her doctorate in strategic planning to use to create the marketing plan that took the couple to festivals up and down the Eastern Seaboard as well as a blooming online business.

Now, the Soap Shed is embarking on 13 years in business.

“We reinvented ourselves as a result of being in a situation we had no control over,” says Tyndall, who now hand-makes more than 24,000 pounds of soap annually. “The quality of our products has stood the test of time. We’re very passionate about helping people understand what good skin care is.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Three New Exhibits at Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville Open September 4th (Artist's reception at 6pm)

On September 4th, Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville, North Carolina presents three new exhibitions featuring three of the finest ceramic artists in the country and and one of the most unique painters in western North Carolina. Our featured exhibition is "Collecting, Creating, Connecting...Ceramics by Liz Zlot Summerfield and paintings by Sarah Faulkner" and our showcase exhibition is "Leaning into the Light...New Ceramic Sculpture by Melisa Cadell". Additionally, our online exhibition is "New Work by Hayne Bayless".

For Liz Summerfield recontextualizing utilitarian objects is a common thread woven throughout her work. Her interest lies in what an object once was and what it can become; this curiosity fuels her to create her work. She references functional, everyday objects and intends to formalize them by focusing on their form, surface, and presence in space. Her recent body of work continues to reference functional objects and address theories of collection. Currently, the most important influence in her life is her daughter, Roby. She finds that the objects that surround her, and in turn influence her work, belong to her. They are playful items: toys, games, and balls. They are stacked, grouped, and contained throughout her home. She has acquired a new collection and inspiration, and thus a new body of work has emerged.

Sarah Faulkner seeks to capture, in her work, the important relationships humans have with trees, flowers, animals and all things in the natural world. These relationships offer a sense of peace, grounding and calm which is so essential to the quality of one’s life. Growth is reflected consistently throughout her work. She experiments with different materials in order to capture the mysterious and atmospheric qualities found in nature. Most recently, she has been working with wax to add depth to her paintings. This translucent and misty material blends and softens the undercoat colors to give the work an element of light. In addition to wax, Sarah also uses a combination of materials to build up the surface of the paintings. This gives the work a three dimensional quality. The work represented in the upcoming exhibit will be the first collage series in the artist’s career. The work will reflect the simplicity and repetition found in the patterns of nature.

Melisa Cadell is interested in the figure and the spiritual being that is represented by it. She wishes to record the triumph of the human existence as she has observed it in the strong people who have entered her life. Clay allows her the opportunity to form figures who sing of their past, and who are witnesses of their history. She trying to communicate the past of individuals who have had to endure hardship, persecution, and poor health. People have always amazed her because of their ability to face life with determination when so little hope seems apparent. Their stories have touched her soul in a way that words fall short in describing. It is her hope that this is communicated in her work. Her works represent people who were changed because of their life experiences and it is reflected in a beauty and strength that has nothing to do with what our society typically deems beautiful. Their beauty is one of dignity, courage and of inner strength. Melisa's exhibit will feature a very broad range of new works.

For Hayne Bayless the unintended result, often misread as a mistake and so dismissed, is one of the most fertile sources of new ideas. "The trick is not to fool with clay's inherent desire to be expressive. Pay attention to the clay, not only for the sake of each piece, but because the clay will offer - or impose - its own suggestions of new forms and ways to work."
His pots are not so much about harmony, although that does happen, but more about tension. He loves what spawns in the friction between what he wants the material to do and what it would rather do. Hayne's exhibit will feature a great selection of new works.

These exhibitions will open on September 4th and remain through October 31st with an artist's reception at 6pm on September 4th. Melisa Cadell's exhibit will feature some very unique lighting for reception night only. Each exhibition will be available online on September 4th. For more information call 828-688-3599 or online at

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Crimson Laurel Gallery Presents Three New Shows.

Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville, North Carolina presents three exhibitions featuring five of the finest ceramic artists in the country. Our featured exhibition is "Contiguous...Ceramic Sculptures by Cristina Cordova and Jerilyn Virden" and our showcase exhibition is "What's in a line...Ceramics by David Eichelberger and Tom Spleth". And, our online exhibition is "Ceramic Sweets and Small Works...Ceramics by Jason Bige Burnett".

Cristina Cordova's (pictured side) provocative new sculptures are haunting yet beckon those who come upon them to look closely and try to understand their suffering and longings. Through the primary vehicle of the figure, she is in constant search for a presence. These new works will include materials never before seen in Cristina's sculptures. Jerilyn Virden looks to primitive objects that have a contemporary relevance. She pares down forms and exaggerates isolated elements, thus accentuating their sense of generosity and strength. Jerilyn will also be introducing new surfaces and forms for this exhibition.

David Eichelberger is captivated by the dialogue in his work between simplicity and complexity. He uses clean, graceful lines to capture qualities he finds in the organic world. This will be David's first exhibit of post-graduate work. Tom Spleth's slip cast porcelain cups (pictured below) are made complete with tiny script capturing select and provocative messages. Tom will also be showing his vase forms that are recognized for the simplicity of their truly unique forms. Combined, these two artists demonstrate the importance of the "line" in ceramic design.

New works by Jason Bidge Burnett, aka Cakeboy, involve print processes and visual narratives that are simultaneously personal and universal. Jason's new forms both investigate multiple surface techniques and explore imagery that is influenced by the glitz and glam of carnivals, pop culture, and commercial design.

These exhibitions opened on July 1st and remain through August 31st. Thanks to all those who joined us for the artists reception on July 16th. Each exhibition will be available online on July 1st. For more information call 828-688-3599 or online at

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Classic Jaguars on Display in Little Switzerland

Classic Jaguar sports car and sedans will be on display Saturday, July 17, 2010 from 10 am to 4 pm, on the grounds of the Switzerland Inn, Little Switzerland, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The show is the annual judged concours d'elegance of the Carolina Jaguar Club and will include the XJS that belonged to James Brown, "the Godfather of Soul". The public is welcome.

Early registrations also include three XK120/140 sports cars from the 1950s and seven E-Type sports cars, perhaps Jaguar's most famous and endearing model which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. A Concours d'Elegance - essentially a beauty pageant for coach-built cars and high fashions - came into vogue in the late 1920s in Europe. Wealthy clients ordered custom coachwork on their favorite marque's chassis, then proudly debuted their one-of-a-kind cars, often accompanied by a female model in a coordinated outfit from a leading couturier.

Jaguar clubs continue this tradition with local shows where both classic and modern "cats" are judged for cleanliness and authenticity using procedures established by the Jaguar Clubs of North America (JCNA). JCNA, which includes the state-wide Carolina Jaguar Club (CJC), has nearly 60 local clubs including Mexico City and five in Canada, and has over 6,000 member families.

CJC's Concours Chair Mimi Morton invites everybody to join the club for a day in the mountains and a special show. This year marks the 75th anniversary for England's Jaguar car company and the 100th for the Switzerland Inn. Jaguar's brand new 2011 XJ8 sedan will be on display by sponsoring Jaguar dealers, and the Inn offers free parking and a full-service bar and restaurant. From the I-40 take the Marion exit 86 take Rt. 226 north to the Blue Ridge Parkway and go 3 miles south toward Asheville to milepost 334.

The Carolina Jaguar Club is a state-wide organization with 120 member families including a few from Virginia and S. Carolina. Monthly meetings are held wherever we find a social or significant event, an interesting car show, or gatherings organized by nearby Jaguar clubs.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tall Tales, Mountain Yarns and Railroad Lore! It's time for the Toe River Storytelling Festival in Spruce Pine. Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 17th from 10-4 at Riverside Park. Hear Grammy award winning storyteller David Holt along with Linda Spitzer, Michael Reno Harrell, Kim Weitkamp and Fred Park. The Toe River Storytelling Festival is sponsored by the Spruce Pine Main Street organization. Call 828-765-3008 for more information or visit

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Containment... A Group Exhibition of Ceramic Boxes

Crimson Laurel Gallery
April 1 –
June 30
Artists Reception: Saturday, April 10th - 6pm

The idea of an exhibition of boxes is not a new one by any means. It is, however, an important one for the ceramic art collector. It is an opportunity to participate in a collecting tradition that has very deep roots. Ceramic art boxes have been collected and coveted throughout the centuries. From ancient Egypt to modern times the lure of a lidded vessel seems to reach across cultural and geographical boundaries. Their almost seductive nature invites us to question what is concealed, everyday objects, or someone’s most cherished memories.

For this exhibition we have invited select artists from across the country to interpret the box form. Each artist will bring to the project his or her own distinct method of surface design and construction. We invite you to consider the possibilities of this timeless art form and what might be contained within.

Participating artists include Leanne Ash, William Baker, Hayne Bayless, Nicholas Bivins, Jason Burnett, Melisa Cadell, Kyle Carpenter, Julie Covington, David Crane, Susan Fagan, Marty Fielding, Becca Floyd, Erik Haagensen, Kent Harris, Bryan Hopkins, Shawn Ireland, Peter Karner, Ani Kasten, Jennifer Kincaid, Jeff Kleckner, Michael Kline, Eric Knocke, Ryan McKerley, Brooke Noble, Ronan Kyle Peterson, Rob Pulleyn, Emily Reason, Lindsay Rogers, Jenny Lou Sherburne, Liz Summerfield, Joy Tanner and Jerilyn Virden.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spruce Pine on World Fishing Network TV!

Mitchell County Chamber continues our promotion Craft Your Adventure focusing on the unsurpassed opportunites for discovering world renowned Craft and experiencing awesome Outdoor Adventures in our region. World Fishing Network TV took notice and made a trip to Spruce Pine to check out fishing on the Toe River!

Click here to visit World Fishing Network: