BEECH MOUNTAIN — Throughout 2021, The Town of Beech Mountain is celebrating 40 years as a municipality. The highest town in eastern America was formed in 1981, and the town has numerous activities planned throughout the year for residents and visitors to the town.

The year of festivities kicked off in January when the town’s second sledding hill was celebrated, a hill which was developed behind the Brick Oven Pizzeria. For February, the town featured the newly revitalized Avery County Barn Quilt Trail. The highest concentration of these outdoor art pieces is in the Town of Beech Mountain, while a map and website created was created to showcase them in a driving trail, which also encompasses nearby towns of Banner Elk, Newland, Linville Falls and lower Avery County as well. More information on the quilt trail can be found by clicking to https://beechmtn.com/avery-county-quilt-trail-blocks/.

For another fun activity, the town announced that are 40 of the number 40 placed in public places around the mountain. These wooden numbers are easy to spot and make a good driving activity as well. As well, anyone who happens to be celebrating their 40th birthday this year can stop by the Beech Mountain Visitor Center for a complementary birthday lanyard.

Additionally, the Beech Mountain Historical Society has created a “40 Little-Known Facts” quiz, which can be found on the www.beechmtn.com website. They are producing two new exhibits this year for the Beech Mountain Museum. One focuses on the Hicks family and “Jack Tales,” and the other tells the story of the “Battle on Beech” during the Civil War.

Birthday blast on May 1 to feature time capsule, veterans recognition and more

The official birthday blast for Beech Mountain is set for Saturday, May 1, from noon to 6 p.m. at the Fred and Margie Pfohl Buckeye Recreation Center.

The celebration has been in the works since last August, according to Kate Gavenus, director of tourism and economic development with the Town of Beech Mountain, and the town is excited to have the opportunity to welcome residents and visitors to the momentous event.

“We’re really excited to have this event coming up because this is really the crowning event of 40 years of growth and innovation here on this mountain,” Gavenus explained. “The town forming 40 years ago was almost at a time of desperation, as the company that founded the town had gone bankrupt and there were a lot of people owning some property that now wasn’t sure what to do with it, and it took some brave guys to step forward and decide what could be done.”

Those pioneers 40 years ago took a strategic approach in casting the vision for the town, according to Gavenus.

“The recreation part was given to the club which formed the private Beech Mountain Club, while the town incorporated and took on the infrastructure, the water, sewer and roads, and all that you have to have to have a community,” Gavenus added. “In part, this is like celebrating those fantastic pioneers who were up here and just wouldn’t say die. They just kept going.”

During this event 40 years in the making, residents will come together to celebrate Beech’s achievements and enjoy each other’s company.

“We started thinking through what could be an event that we could highlight each month as ‘gifts’ from the town to the townspeople, so we came up with our preliminary list and had to refine it a bit,” Gavenus explained. “There’s so many things going on up here, it’s really fun to do and a good way to highlight all that is going on here on Beech Mountain.”

Residents and attendees are invited to bring a small item or photo to place in the town’s Time Capsule which will be buried during the event at approximately 5:30 p.m., although a digital time capsule is also available for individuals to submit mementos in that way. Participants in the digital time capsule may send memories and old photographs to beechmountainvisitorcenter@gmail.com.

“We’re planning on closing the (physical) time capsule up and burying it, and people are welcome to bring small mementos of their memories of Beech. Nothing really large, but a hand-sized item is just about right,” Gavenus said. “Pictures are certainly welcome, or just their handwritten memories of their time here on Beech Mountain. We expect a broad array of items for that time capsule.”

The full afternoon of events on May 1 will begin with a craft fair and community booths opening at noon that will feature more than 30 local artisans and area craft vendors, followed at 1 p.m. by an Arbor Day tree planting, where seedlings of 40 different varieties of native trees with the resiliency to withstand the mountain climate will be provided to guests to plant later at various locations around Beech. One of the trees will be planted during a ceremony at BRC.

At 2 p.m., bragging rights will be on the line as members of the Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Department and Beech Mountain Police Department will square off in a cornhole challenge. Later, at 4:30 p.m., the town will host a veterans recognition ceremony, while the official celebratory cake cutting and door prize drawings are slated for 5 p.m. The official festivities will conclude with the sealing of the physical time capsule at Buckeye Rec Center.

A pair of mountain food staples will also be on hand at the celebration helping to ensure that no attendee goes hungry. Brick Oven Pizzeria will be providing free pizza at the event from noon to 3 p.m., and Fred’s General Mercantile will be providing a free meal from 4 to 6 p.m.

Event details will also take into account COVID safety precautions, and all are asked to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and bring their own lawn chair.

“We are so excited to celebrate this important milestone in Beech Mountain history,” Town Manager Bob Pudney said. “So many individuals have helped make this town what it is today and that includes the many families that have visited us over the years. This celebration is for everyone.”

Information on all the 40th Birthday Celebration festivities throughout the year, as well as a copy of the May 1 schedule, is available on the Beech website at https://beechmtn.com/40th/.

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