For the next several weeks travelers on US Airways will be exposed to the beauty of the High Country area via the airline’s official magazine. The May 2012 issue has 15 pages dedicated to celebrating the region, with specific features on Appalachian State University football, Lees-McRae College, the Twickenham House, Grandfather Mountain, Green Park Inn and many other High County treasures.
Extending north and west of the Piedmont Triad to the Tennessee and Virginia borders, the High Country starts in Wilkes County with the first glimpse of the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains. Why not begin your journey in the region’s wine country? Here, Italian-style sangiovese and homegrown blends delight palates, while the strains of guitar, fiddle, and banjo at the popular MerleFest attract roots music fans each spring. If it’s intrigue you’re after, the Wilkes Playmakers’ summer production of Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend tells the tale of the doomed local folk hero (Tom Dula) immortalized in song.
Traveling northwest into Ashe County, you’ll find spectacular views, Christmas tree farms, and narrow roads, but the defining feature is the winding New River; the second-oldest in the world, it’s ideal for bass and trout fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Traditional Appalachian culture is keenly felt in these parts. Check out the New River Celtic Music Festival, the Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers convention, and the Barn Quilt Trail, a local arts project showcasing quilt designs mounted on 150 barns. And don’t miss West Jefferson, where summer gallery crawls draw crowds to the dozen or so galleries downtown. Perhaps take in a concert or dance performance at the sleek Ashe Civic Center, and enroll in a class for, say, oil painting or hammer dulcimer at the Florence Thomas Art School near the Blue Ridge Parkway.