And The Winners Are…

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The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce held our Annual Awards Dinner November 29th at the Cross Street Center in Spruce Pine. This event is an evening to celebrate our Chamber members and to announce the winners of the Annual Awards. The nominations and award recipients are selected by the membership of the Chamber. The evening was an opportunity to network with community businesses and leaders.  New Board members were installed as well as new officers President DeLee Scott and Treasurer Kim Stephenson. Entertainment was provided by The Saylor Brothers Band and catering provided by Chamber Member White Falls Catering.

Congratulations to all the winners!
Member of the Year: WTOE/WKYK Radio
Non-Profit of the Year: Mitchell County Animal Rescue, Inc-North Carolina
Small Business of the Year: Becky’s Flowers & Gifts
Large Business of the Year: Mitchell House
Directors Award: Bakersville Improvement Group- Town of BakersvilleBakersville, NC
Presidents Award: Ciji Dellinger
Amazing Customer Service: DT’s Blue Ridge Java
Excellence in Community Support: Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge, Inc
Outstanding Service to the Chamber: Springmaid Mountain Resort Joe Glenn
Rookie of the Year- Soggy Bottom Farms/Tin Shed





Small Business Saturday Make A Big Impact

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In an effort to support local shops that make our communities strong, American Express launches Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage
people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.

One year later, as the Shop Small Movement gains momentum, local officials across the nation take notice and promote Small Business Saturday. In 2011, the Senate unanimously passes a resolution in support of the day and officials in all 50 states participate. It even gets a shout-out from the president of the United States.
In 2013, more than 1,400 individuals and organizations sign up as Neighborhood Champions to rally their communities with events and activities on Small Business Saturday — and that
number continues to grow. By 2017, there were more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions across all 50 states. They’re not alone. Beginning in 2011, business associations, nonprofit trade groups, municipalities, and public officials started to unite by forming a Small Business Saturday Coalition, encouraging everyone to Shop Small. And nearly 100 corporations lend their official support to the movement.
Small Business Saturday continues to be an annual holiday shopping tradition — just one part of the larger Shop Small Movement to support small businesses every day and everywhere.
Because a visit to the family-owned framing shop or a stop at the neighborhood taco truck not only supports our local economies, but also promotes thriving communities.
In Mitchell County, we will be celebrating Small Business Saturday in all three of our towns.  Bakersville, Little Switzerland and Spruce Pine will be hosting Open Houses, special events and even a parade in downtown Spruce Pine on Saturday Nov 24 at 6 PM.
Celebrate our local businesses this year and give them the gift of your presence, your support and a little of your shopping list too!  Check our calendar for events!

Hurricane Florence: Emergency Resources Quicklinks

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The approaching Hurricane Florence has prompted thousands of people in the Southeastern United States to prepare for its landfall in the next few days. This storm could cause significant damage and flooding in coastal areas, and beyond. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has officially declared a state of emergency.

The below information and best practices will help hoteliers and restaurateurs across North Carolina prepare for the coming days and issues that typically arise during a declared emergency.

Quicklinks: Emergency Resources

Follow NC Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
For public disaster information/assistance: 
Call 211 or 888-892-1161
Road condition updates: Call 211 or visit

Candidates Forum 2018

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The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce will host a Candidates’ Forum on Tuesday, October 16th at 6:00 PM at the Historic Courthouse in Bakersville, NC. The forum is open to the public.
Candidates in the following races have been invited to participate in the forum.

US House of Representatives District 11
NC State Senate District 47
NC House of Representatives District 85
District Attorney District 35
NC Supreme Court Justice Seat 1
NC Superior Court Judge
NC District Court Judge District 24
Mitchell County Board of Commissioners
Mitchell County Board of Education
Mitchell County Sheriff
Mitchell County Clerk of Superior Court

Participating candidates will be presented questions by a panel of community questioners. Questions will be submitted by Chamber members and community members prior to the forum. Candidates with uncontested races have been invited to attend the forum and make an address to the audience.

A link will be sent to all Chamber members and also provided on the Chamber’s Facebook page in the coming weeks for the public to submit questions for candidates in any/all of the races.
The forum will be recorded live by WTOE radio and re-broadcast in its entirety. For more information contact the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce at (828) 765-9033.

There’s Nothing Like A 4th of July in the Mountains

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When it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July, there’s nothing like a small town celebration! From live music, parades, and fireworks in five locations in our county and even a Town Wide Yard Sale…we have you covered for fun and family time for the 4th!


Wednesday July 4th

Downtown Spruce Pine: 

Make plans to attend the best fireworks show in 3 counties! The annual Spruce Pine Kiwanis parade starts at 5:00 pm followed by music, dancing, food, inflatables and games in Central Park. Firework show starts at dusk.






Little Switzerland:

Little Switzerland 4th of July

Parade -July 4th at 4 pm.

Floats & entrants will be lining up at 3:30pm in “Uptown” Little Switzerland on High Ridge Rd.

Come on up to Little Switzerland – we are a great base for McDowell or Mitchell County Fireworks

Hang around Little Switzerland for a unique experience at the Emerald Village Black Light Tour….an underground tour that unlocks vibrant hidden colors available only under ultraviolet light! The event begins at 9:15 pm and it is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes prior to the tour.







Penland School of Craft: July 4th

Experience a handmade holiday for the 4th with a visit to Penland School of Craft! We guarantee this will be the most unique, creative and exciting Fourth of July parade and celebration you have seen

7:00 PM Homemade/handmade July 4 parade. Nobody knows what to expect.

9:30-ish Fireworks

Plenty of room for picnicking.






The Orchard at Altapass July 4th:

 10:30 am until 4:30 pm

Visit the Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway on July 4th to take in some live music, cloggers, and a covered dish meal! Plus of course beautiful views!

10:00-10:30 Barn Burner Clog Team 10:30-Noon Typical Mountain Boys 1:00-2:30 Town & Country 3:00-until Slight Departure

The 4th of July dinner is free if you bring an ample covered dish, otherwise entry is $15.00 per person.

Saturday July 7th


Visit the flag lined streets of downtown Bakersville on Saturday July 7th to continue your 4th of July celebration!  The town wide yard sale begins at 8 am and lasts until 1 pm. You’ll find folks lined up all along the streets selling their treasures! Hang around Bakersville for a great lunch, a walk along the Creekwalk, fishing in Cane Creek and visiting the great galleries and shops in this charming town. Bakersville will hold their annual fireworks beginning at dusk, and this fireworks show is worth the wait!













2018 Rhododendron Bloom Report for Roan Mtn

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Stay tuned as we report on the blooming of the amazing catawba rhododendrons atop Roan Mountain, NC! It’s June, which means our mountain will be turning pink and you can be with us to witness it! Over 600 acres (the world’s largest naturally growing rhododendron garden in the world) of beautiful pink catawba rhododendron bloom each June.  They usually cooperate with us and peak just in time for the NC Rhododendron Festival in Bakersville the third weekend in June. Come and celebrate with us!



June 3, 2018 Report

There looks to be a 50% bloom this year. The buds are beginning to swell in the gap and a few in the gardens.
If the weather stays true to predictions for the coming week there should be lots of pink in the gap and on top by the weekend.
Real color should begin mid to late the following week and from Rhododendron weekend on through the next week should show plenty of bloom barring any heavy rain.
On another note the gravel loop road to the overflow parking lot and around to the Bluff parking lot is in pretty nasty shape. Weather has been rough up there this spring. Be aware of maintenance should you venture up there this week.


June 10th Report: Still looking at 50+% and color showing now with good color for the next couple of weeks.

Rhododendrons and Summer Fun in Bakersville

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PC: @solitarytravelerphoto

Summer time is here and Mitchell County is gearing up for a great season full of fun, festivals, and special events! A visit to Bakersville should make the top of any vacation to-do list. With great festivals, a rich history, a vibrant arts scene, and natural beauty, Bakersville is worth the trip.

Summer is one of the best times to visit Bakersville to take advantage of all the activities that the town has to offer. One place that any traveler must visit is Roan Mountain. Reaching 6,286 feet at its highest point, Roan Mountain is home to multiple hiking trails, picnic areas, and even a portion of the famous Appalachian Trail. Roan Mountain features stunning 360-degree views of North Carolina and Tennessee from one of the serene grassy balds. The one characteristic that makes Roan Mountain so unique is it is the world’s largest naturally occurring rhododendron gardens. Every June, the gardens produce thousands of brilliant pink blooms all over the mountain, and has commonly been referred to as the “the mountain that turns pink”.

PC: NC Rhododendron Festival Facebook

These beautiful rhododendrons are celebrated every year at the Annual North Carolina Rhododendron Festival in Bakersville. This festival takes place every third weekend of June, and after more than 70 years, the event is more popular than ever as it continues to be one of the state’s most longstanding festivals! The Rhododendron Festival features handmade crafts, food, a car show, a 10k run, a beauty pageant, nightly street dances, and those are just a few of the many highlights. Bakersville blossoms during the festival, with visitors getting to experience live music from local bands and musicians and tasting true southern cuisine with food from local vendors and restaurants. At night, the main street of Bakersville closes to traffic and opens for dancers of all ages (and skill level) to participate in the famous nightly street dances that last until midnight or later.

The NC Rhododendron Festival gives visitors the chance to explore all that the town of Bakersville has to offer, including many local art galleries, restaurants, antique shops, and more! Take a trip to Bakersville and experience small town charm and one of the area’s most anticipated events of the season!

Explore Mitchell: Then & Now

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In honor of National Tourism Week, we are highlighting some of Mitchell County’s towns with photos from “then and now”.

This year’s theme, “Travel Then and Now,” highlights travel’s long history of supporting jobs, businesses and livelihoods everywhere in America and right here in Mitchell County, as well as our industry’s enduring ethos of welcoming visitors from near and far.

Some of the photos span back over 100 years and we are proud of the rich heritage that our county was built on. Thank you to the Mitchell County Historical Society for supplying us with their “then” photographs. To learn more about the Mitchell County Historical Society please visit their website at

Lower Street – Downtown Spruce Pine – 1950’s and Now

Little Switzerland – 1900’s

Little Switzerland Now

Downtown Bakersville – early 1900’s

Bakersville Now

Grassy Creek Golf Course – Spruce Pine

Then & Now


Tourism is a vital part of our county, bringing in over $23 million dollars and employing over 200 people in the area. We have so many great businesses, landmarks, industries, and natural wonders that thrive on tourism and visitors, so tourism benefits all of us!

As you can see from these pictures, Mitchell County has grown and changed a bit, but still keeping the longstanding traditions of hospitality that our towns and our county were built on. We are using these traditions to make a better and brighter future for our people and every person who visits Mitchell County. Help us celebrate tourism this week by promoting our county and all the things that make it great!

Another special thanks to the Mitchell County Historical Society for sharing their old photos with us.

Tin Shed Owner Lacey Queen Named Our State Magazine’s BBQ Queen

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A local Mitchell County hotspot, the Tin Shed, was recently recognized in Our State Magazine! Never did Lacey Queen dream that something as small as farming on the side of her full time job as a hairdresser would turn into a full service farm, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a store.

Opening in Spring of 2017, the Tin Shed has been serving up local handcrafted Carolina favorites to locals and visitors alike. After several successful years of owning and operating Soggy Bottom Farms, owner Lacey Queen decided to branch out and open an outdoor restaurant serving her local meat from her farm. The Tin Shed has been a huge hit, serving slow smoked barbeque, grass-fed burgers, and more, all using farm fresh meat locally sourced from her farm across the road. She is also serving up homemade sides, deserts, and more, which she partners with other local farmers to ensure the freshest and highest quality products around. This unique restaurant gives guests a true farm-to-table experience.

In the May issue of Our State Magazine, Lacey Queen was recognized as the “BBQ queen of Spruce Pine” for her businesses of the Tin Shed Restaurant and Soggy Bottom Farms. Author of the article, Kathleen Purvis, writes “Follow a country road along the Toe River and you’ll find Soggy Bottom Farms, where an enterprising young woman with strong convictions has created a down-home market marvel”. Lacey began her business with a passion to “educate consumers on what they are putting into their body, as well as offering the highest quality foods to fuel healthy bodies and happy lives”. Lacey also operates her farm and restaurant in memory and as a tribute to her father, Mike Queen, who was her business partner and supporter, but passed away last year.

Lacey was incredibly thankful for the feature, writing “A big thank you to Our State magazine for the feature in May 2018 edition…we as a team are humbled by all the love and support from our customers… our goal is to make this season even better”. Along with being featured in Our State Magazine, the Tin Shed has been featured on a variety of media outlets, including a CNN Travel article titled “12 of the world’s most enticing food and drink trails”.

One thing is for sure, Lacey has the passion and drive to be successful at whatever she does, whether it be farming, running a restaurant, or being a successful female entrepreneur for local business.

You can check out Lacey’s article in the May 2018 issue of Our State Magazine or by clicking the link below!

The Queen of Spruce Pine

Bare Dark Sky Observatory Puts a Spotlight On Our Area

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Big cities, bright lights, and towns that never sleep… All of these things have their place, but sometimes you just need to get away from all the hustle and bustle and see beauty in its most natural form. This is where the Mayland Earth to Sky Park & Bare Dark Sky Observatory comes in.

Operated by Mayland Community College, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory, also known as Blue Ridge Observatory and Sky Park, allows viewers to see the night sky as they’ve never seen it before; under the lens of an f/3.6 StarStructure Newtonian Telescope with a 34 inch mirror. This high-powered telescope allows visitors of the Bare Dark Sky Observatory to view stars, constellations, and the night sky at close range.

Open to the public, this observatory allows for visitors and locals alike to see 360 degree views of the spectacular night sky at an elevation of 2,736 feet. According to Mayland, Bare Dark Sky Observatory is the only southeastern Star Park certified by the International Dark Sky Association, which “advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies by educating policymakers and the public on the subject of night sky conservation and by promoting environmentally responsible outdoor lighting”. Not only are visitors and locals benefiting from this observatory, Astronomy students at Mayland Community College are getting a hands-on learning experience out of the classroom.

The Bare Dark Sky Observatory has been recognized on a national level by multiple media outlets, including CBS News, Blue Ridge Outdoors, and Go Camping America, just to name a few. In an article titled “4 Star Gazing Hot Spots in the Appalachian Mountains”, Blue Ridge Outdoors named the Bare Dark Sky Observatory one of the four hot spots. Blue Ridge Outdoors writes that the Bare Dark Sky Observatory is “the largest (Newtonian telescope) in the Southeast dedicated for public use”.

According to an article from CNN Travel titled “Dark Skies – 22 Best Places in the World to Stargaze”, Mayland’s Bare Dark Sky Observatory and Star Park came in at number 9 of 22, and was one of only 10 U.S. locations that made the list. According to the photographer listed in the article, Todd Bush, he says “Views of the Milky Way from this site are simply stunning. Future observers here will likely bask in its glow with the unaided eye”.

So what are you waiting for, go check out the Bare Dark Sky Observatory for yourself! The Mayland Earth to Sky Park and Bare Dark Sky Observatory has viewings one day per week for two hour blocks depending on sunset times. Tickets and reservations are available for purchase on the Mayland Community College website.