Turning a rural and largely agricultural community into a tourist mecca is no walk in the park — but it just might be a roll down the hill.

Ashe County has come a long way since 1799, when portions of Wilkes County were carved away to form a new county named for former North Carolina Gov. Samuel Ashe. In an oversimplification, along came the railroad and the realization that our natural resources were a good fit for industry, and the second-home owners and those looking to escape the summer heat, and now, those wishing to recapture the magic of Christmas when families not only admired the beauty of the family Christmas tree, but admired a tree they had chosen and cut down themselves.

Which brings us to today. Today, Ashe County is moving toward a blend of business, industry and natural resources in a way that few North Carolina counties are able.

A good example of this is the upcoming skate boarding race on Mt. Jefferson State Park Road in late August. For the first time in the four years that we have hosted the race — which has from the beginning had a national draw — the event has become one of the 18 qualifying events sanctioned by the International Downhill Federation.

Whether you are hot, cold or lukewarm on the subject of skate boarding, this is significant news. It is yet another indication that Ashe County is moving toward a more-perfect blend of utilizing its natural resources in a sustainable manner to leverage economic growth. Another example is our nationally recognized disc golf course, arguably the best in the High Country and, for sheer scenic beauty, the best in the state.

We applaud the foresight and effort that went into developing such events and activities. But more, we encourage our civic leaders to use them as a template for growth.

Just as our parents and grandparents would have had a hard time envisioning the Ashe County of today as they walked or drove the dirt roads of a generation or two ago, we too have yet to see what our future can hold.

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