With new ownership, bigger artists and updating decor, the Blue Ridge Theater and Event Center is getting a new lease on life.
The Blue Ridge Theater and Event Center was bought by Steve Mochen Aug. 17, who has been working to change the atmosphere and bring in bigger acts. The big ticket show on the schedule now is the Sept. 21 performance by Bucky Covington, of American Idol fame. Also on the schedule are the Grammy award-winning band Shenandoah, and country stars Exile.
Mochen spent more than two decades as a police officer in Florida before he and his wife moved to Ashe County looking for life after law enforcement. Mochen’s wife had family in the area, and they had been vacationing in Ashe County for years. Mochen said they knew the High Country would be the right place for them to spend the next phase of their lives.
While working in Florida, Mochen often worked at events and festivals, and became increasingly ingrained in the entertainment industry. He said he knew he wanted to do something in entertainment after he retired, and when the opportunity arose to purchase the Blue Ridge Theater and Event Center, he felt it was the right thing to do.
“I came over and looked at it,” Mochen said. “I said, ‘This could be something to work with.’ So in the meantime, a couple of my team members said this had the potential to be big.”
Mochen wanted to freshen up and enliven the center, and has been working on new decorations featuring classic album art, movie posters, a new stage backdrop, lighting and new sound systems.
The plan is to continue to benefit from the current buffet set-up as the venue will be more of a relaxed setting where people can enjoy good shows and music. Mochen is still in the process of deciding on how to properly supply the food, and is considering working with Winner’s Circle in Jefferson like the previous owners Dick and Linda Copus.
Mochen admits that the renovations and new style of the center can be seen as new competition for Saloon Studios, which is 12 miles away — but, he says that he doesn’t see them as competitors and has a lot of respect for what they’ve built.
“I’m not trying to compete with them by any means,” Mochen said. “They’re doing their thing, I’m doing my thing, and somewhere along the line we’ll get together and maybe do something.”
Mochen’s said his goal is to always have something going on at the Blue Ridge Theater and Event Center, where people can stop in any weekend and have a good time. His main ambition with the center, he said, is for it to benefit from being in Ashe County, and for Ashe County to benefit from it.