Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Ashe Post and Times (previously the Ashe Mountain Times).
Aug. 16, 2012
Drawn by scenic mountain vistas, outdoor activities and West Jefferson’s downtown art scene, tourist spending in Ashe County reached an all-time high in 2011, according to data released by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Tourist spending topped $45 million in Ashe County in 2011, an increase of nearly 5.5 percent over 2010, according to data released Aug. 8.
The New River, the historic towns of Jefferson, Lansing, Todd and West Jefferson, Florence Thomas Art School and West Jefferson’s art galleries, and outdoor activities like horseback riding, fishing, tubing and hiking, were listed as the main draws.
Visitors take advantage of more than 200 rooms available for lodging, four campgrounds, more than 175 cabins, 30 plus restaurants and unique shops devoted to antiques, clothing, books, gifts and specialty foods.
In 2011, tourism brought in more than $45 million to Ashe County over 12 months, up nearly 5.5 percent from 2010.
Three-hundred-seventy jobs in the county are directly attributable to tourism, which account for $6.46 million in payroll and nearly $5 million in state and local tax revenue, according to the report.
Tourists also save county taxpayers more than $400 each year in taxes, according to Ashe County Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m very excited by that 5.5-percent increase in revenue,” said Ashe County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cabot Hamilton. “That represents a significant break to the Ashe County taxpayer.”
The chamber partnered with Susan Caddell, of Caddell Communications, over the past 12 months to develop a marketing plan to draw more tourists to the area.
“That’s important because it helps us know what areas to focus on over the next three to five years,” said Hamilton. “We know people come to Ashe County for outdoor experiences and the arts culture.”
Hamilton said marketing to people who love outdoor activities including hiking, tubing, swimming and fishing, should play a key role in county marketing efforts.
“They (tourists) also come for the arts culture,” said Hamilton. “The art galleries, barn quilts and music and festivals mainly.”
After combing through hundreds of pages of research, Caddell and the chamber came to the conclusion that the average tourist that visits the county is between the ages of 35 and 64, and has an average household income between $50,000 and $100,000 and are generally college educated, white and live in North Carolina and surrounding states including South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
Aug 14, 2014
Moments before bassist Kim “Tae” Rash took the stage at the Orlando leg of this summer’s Warped Tour, only one thought was entrenched in his mind.
“I can’t forget my part,” said Rash, an Ashe High alum who moved to Florida in 2009 to get closer to the burgeoning punk rock scene.
As Rash surveyed the crowd and the thousands of people making their way from one stage to next, a certain euphoria over took him and he was suddenly thinking back to when he was 15 years old and receiving his first guitar from his dad.
He remembered a show he attended as a teenager and turning to one of his friends and boasting, “That’s going to be me. I’m going to be up there one day.”
Warped Tour is an alt rock music showcase that crisscrosses the nation from June to August.
It is arguably the pinnacle tour of punk rock and any other form of angst-driven music that you can pack into a suitcase on a youth revival that features some of the genre’s biggest name and up-and-coming acts looking for a way in. Dozens of bands latch onto the tour every summer.
For Rash and the rest of Felicity, who met earlier this year after responding to a not so casual posting on Craig’s List, performing on Warped Tour is probably the equivalent of a country band playing on the Grand Ole Opry — there simply isn’t a bigger stage.
“It was just really cool to see that 10-year dream of mine unfold,” said Rash.
The band draws from a range of influences, including the likely suspects of Blink 182, New Found Glory and NOFX, as well as a few acts that would cock a few eyebrows from hardcore fans.
“We are fast, loud and in your face, but we also like to slow things down and have an alt rock sound, too,” said Rash.
Before landing a spot with Felicity, as well as with his other musical project, Yellow Day Union, Rash performed whenever he could with a group of startup rockers from Ashe County.
Finally, he realized he would have to take a leap of faith if he ever wanted a shot of making a living as a true musician.
Bands such as A Day to Remember and NFG were finding unprecedented success in the Sunshine State and decided it was his time to shine.
“So, on a limb one day, I packed up and moved to Florida,” said Rash. “At that point, it was either Florida or California, and I decided this would be easier.”
To say his time in Florida as an up and coming musician was “easy,” wouldn’t exactly be accurate.
“I’ve been in and out of a couple bands since I moved here five years ago,” said Rash. “But Felicity are members who are definitely dedicated. To be in a band, you definitely have sacrifice your social life and even sometimes your relationships.”
Currently, Felicity is trying to line things up to secure a spot on Monster Energy Drink’s Chaos Tour, as well as securing an opening act for the Florida leg of another tour.
While balancing the demands of a tour, regardless the duration, as well as work and a social life, Rash admits it can be rather daunting at times.
“In the end, it’s all worth it when you know that’s what you want to do,” he said.
Aug. 18, 2016
The Ashe County Piecemakers Quilt Guild presented Thomas Ring with a Quilt of Valor at the Ashe Senior Center on Aug. 11.
According to its website, www.qovf.org, the Quilt of Valor Foundation began in 2003 with a mission to, “cover service members and veterans with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”
Since it began, the Quilts of Valor Foundation has been responsible for 142,428 quilts.
“A lady in our quilt guild, Carolyn Spillman, is the one who brought it to us,” said ACPQG president Paula Riggs. “She became acquainted with this at another quilt guild. She was so taken by it, that she decided to make this quilt. She brought it to us already done. The Quilt of Valor is interesting because there is a group of people who have formed this presentation and there are guidelines and requirements and specifications that you have to comply with for it to be a Quilt of Valor.”
This was the first time an Ashe County resident has been given a Quilt of Valor
Ring, a 91-year-old Marine Corps veteran of Worl War II who was present the day U.S. ground forces raised the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, had no idea he was receiving the quilt.
“I think this is wonderful,” said Ring. “I was surprised. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I got here. It’s the first time I’ve ever received anything like this. I’ve never had anything like this. The two things that I have been given to enjoy are a plaque my granddaughter gave me years ago and this. This is an honor.”
“I know this is a cliché and saying that’s often said, but they gave their all for us,” Riggs said. “I think it’s the least we can do in ever so small a way that we can take time out to recognize these people and honor them for all that they’ve done for us. We’re going to take this on as a project and present a Quilt of Valor once a year to a veteran here in the county.”