Laurel Springs VFD Auxiliary-Come support us at the Fiddlers Convention!

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Do you love good food and supporting a great cause? If the answer to the question is yes, then you don’t want to miss this year’s 25th Annual Alleghany County Fiddlers Convention on July 19-20th! The Laurel Springs VFD Auxiliary will staff the concessions stand at this year’s event.

The Laurel Springs VFD Auxiliary holds fundraisers to supply their firefighters with equipment. For example, they provide dress uniforms, polos, and t-shirts for the firefighters. Currently, they are raising funds to help provide new chairs for a meeting room at the fire department and for an electronic sign to go outside of the Fire Department to keep the Community informed of upcoming events. The VFD Auxiliary members play a vital role in the fire department, and just like the firefighters, the VFD Auxiliary are all volunteers.

Want to help? When attending the Fiddlers Convention this year, be sure to visit the concessions and choose a BBQ chicken plate, a burger, hotdog, a grilled chicken sandwich, or chili cheese fries. In addition to great food, you are helping this volunteer group serve our community.

Meet Our Special Guests Who will Make an Appearance at the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest!

The Blue Ridge Fiber Festival will be on June 7th and 8th here in Alleghany County, 1375 US HWY 21 North, and we wanted to give you an introduction to some of the special guests that will be in attendance!



First, we would like to introduce Weston. Weston is an English Angora rabbit. There are four recognized breeds of angora rabbit:  English, French, Giant and Satin.  Each has a distinct quality to their wool, and each breed may be represented in the barn at the Fiber Fest!



This leads us to our next guest, Vanessa. Vanessa is also an Angora rabbit but is a little different than Weston. Vanessa is a French Angora rabbit. 

Slap Shot

Slap Shot

Meet Slap Shot! Slap Shot is an Angora Goat and produces a fiber called mohair. The average Angora Goat in the U.S. shears approximately 5.3 pounds of mohair per shearing and are usually sheared twice a year. They produce a fiber with a staple length of between 12 and 15cm. However, Slap Shot is a little more special than just any Angora Goat, he was born on the first day of the Stanley Cup finals!

Be sure to make plans to attend the Blue Ridge Fiber Festival, June 7th & 8th, where you can meet these lovely animals and learn more about them! The animals will be on display surrounded by their shepherds who can speak for them and educate a curious public about each one’s unique fiber characteristics. The festival will provide services for farmers as well.  From shearing to product photography to the enhancement of their farmer’s business and the growth of the family farm.

Mark Handy

Dr. Mark Handy is not a typical physician. For starters…he plays the banjo.

Dr. Handy is known throughout the region of Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee, and Western North Carolina as an accomplished musician, a fine flat-footer, and he was even in a music video with Zach Galifianakis.

It’s enough to make you forget that he is also a beloved physician, a decorated medical school educator, and a tireless volunteer for emergency services.

In 2019, Dr. Handy was honored by being named the 2019 Volunteer Clinical Faculty Awardee by UVA’s Alpha Omega Alpha. It is given annually to a volunteer clinical faculty member for excellence in clinical mentorship. 

The nomination for Dr. Handy might just be the best description of this unconventional doctor that can be assembled: 

“Dr. Handy embodies the commitment to education, compassion and service that Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) society strives for its members to embody. I spent one month working with Dr. Handy during my family medicine rotation caring for the under-served patients of Abingdon in rural Southwest Virginia. Despite a busy practice where we saw 30+ patients everyday in addition to numerous house visits, Dr. Handy provided me the platform to develop my critical thinking skills by giving me  the independence to create plans for patients. At end of every shift, he would assess gaps in my knowledge with the simple statement “tell me about x,” and would spend the next hour filling in the gaps. Furthermore, in a primary care climate where every clinic visit is scheduled to be ten minutes long; he emphasized the importance of compassion by giving me the flexibility in the amount of time I spent with patients listening to fascinating stories about their lives and their lost loved ones. Dr. Handy also ensured that patients treated me with respect. I distinctly remember an occasion when he was quick to provide education to a patient who made a racially insensitive comment in reference to me. Unsurprisingly, the utmost respect in which I hold Dr. Handy is shared by all students that I have encountered who have worked with him. As such, I strongly believe he is a deserving candidate of the AOA Volunteer faculty award.”

Dr. Handy is also a 2014 winner of the Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award granted by the Emory & Henry Alumni Association.

Mark finished at Emory & Henry with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and graduated from East Carolina School of Medicine and the ETSU Family Residency Program. He is a family medicine practitioner in Abingdon, Virginia. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, the ISHN Board of Quality Assurance, is Medical Director of Hometown Hospice, and is Medical Director for Intrepid Home Health. He received the Board of Governors for East Carolina University School of Medicine. He is President and CEO of Abingdon Medical Arts, President and CEO of Triple H Farms of Alleghany, President and CEO of William M. Handy, MD, PC, and Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Virginia.  He is a past winner of the Teacher of the Year Award at UVA, the Resident Teacher Award, and was named Medical Director of the Year for Emergency Medical Services.  He is an accomplished banjo player and champion clogger, and is a member of Mountain Park Old Time Band and Tune Town Band, which won Vocal Group of the Year at Blue Ridge Acoustic Uprising in 2014.

Something for Everyone...That's My Alleghany County! By: Peggy Cooper

No matter what your lifestyle, Alleghany County has something to offer. You can have a farm or pasture land with grand mountain views, a peaceful, secluded riverfront retreat, a house in Sparta, where vintage small town living and accessibility puts you within walking distance to shopping, recreation, and dining. Or, you can choose the country club lifestyle, with all the amenities it includes, like golf, swimming, tennis, and a full calendar of social activities. This is the lifestyle I have chosen in High Meadows, a golf and country club community in Roaring Gap, just south of Sparta.

From my home base in High Meadows, I can hike the local trails of Grandfather Mountain, travel the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, stop by an artist studio to watch the creative process, or take a kayak trip down the New River, then come home to High Meadows, hop on my golf cart, visit my friends, and meet a group for dinner at the clubhouse where there is gourmet dining and personal attention from the management and staff.

This makes my location a perfect setting for visiting family and friends, especially in the summer when the low humidity and mild temperatures draw the city dwellers up the mountain! My grandchildren love our community pool, but are just as excited to ride the gold cart in search of wildlife, and their favorite, the albino deer.

Our George Cobb designed golf course is in pristine condition and you can find a partner whether you’re a scratch golfer or just love the sunshine, exercise, and camaraderie of fellow players. Our Club calendar includes road trips, wine dinners, and other social activities, but it’s just as much fun to drive ten minutes into Sparta where the charm of small town life is ever present. With a full calendar of music events, monthly I can stop for a meal in one of the many restaurants or just walk Main Street and enjoy an ice cream cone, a great cup of coffee, and enough shopping to make those trips “down the mountain” few and far between.

Although my Roaring Gap location is in a secluded mountain setting, I can leave my home in High Meadows, turn left for Sparta, or turn right and be on Interstate 77 in 20 minutes, in Winston-Salem within the hour, and reach Charlotte in 90 minutes. This is what makes Alleghany County the best of both worlds for me.

Written By: Peggy Cooper, Realtor & Resident of High Meadows Golf & Country Club

Old-Time music duo, Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones plus special guests will perform at the kick-off Alleghany JAM Coffeehouse on Sunday, March 10th

Alleghany JAM is excited to present a new Sunday Coffee house series with adults and youth singing or playing music at an open-mic for an hour followed by a featured artist playing for the second hour. The first coffeehouse will be March 10th 2pm-4pm at the Alleghany JAM house (formerly the Senator’s house) at 360 N. Main St., Sparta, North Carolina. Everyone is welcome. Admission is by donation. There will be a sign-up sheet at the start for those interested in performing a tune or singing a song.  The open mic is acoustic and participants are encouraged to perform in one of the traditional, folk music styles of the Blue Ridge: old-time, bluegrass, country-blues and gospel.

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On March 10th the featured performers of the AJAM Coffee house will be Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones plus special guests. Erynn Marshall is an award-winning fiddler and the new Program Director for Alleghany JAM. She has won first place at the Clifftop Festival and 2nd place at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention. Carl Jones is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Marshall & Jones are married in life and music and have lived in Galax, Virginia for ten years. To hear or learn more of their music please visit They will be joined by special guest Bruce Rosen – a powerful piano and guitar player who plays in dance-bands in Boston, MA. Bruce and his wife Sue Rosen – a popular dance-caller, just happen to be visiting the Crooked Road. Other surprise guests will join in too and the open-mic performances are not to be missed! So please come join us, set a spell, relax with a coffee or cookie and hear some fine, traditional music.

Alleghany JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) is a non-profit organization that helps youth in grades 3-8 learn traditional Blue Ridge music and culture afterschool. This year the program has 55 children and teenagers taking fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, singing and dance classes

Upcoming events: 

April 28th– Alleghany JAM Coffee house. Artist tba

June 2 – Alleghany JAM Coffee house. Gap Civil Stringband

June 18 – Alleghany JAM Golf Tournament Fundraiser

July 7 – Alleghany JAM Coffee house. Artist tba

The Alleghany JAM Coffeehouse will be 2pm-4pm, Sunday March 10. Seating opens at 1:45pm. Admission is free but donations are appreciated for Alleghany JAM. For info please call (276) 237-6866. Seating is first come first serve. Becca's Backwoods Bean coffee and homemade desserts will be available.Bring a friend. Alleghany JAM is located at 360 N.Main St in Sparta, NC. 

Jones is New Superintendent at Stone Mountain State Park

Jeff Jones has been named superintendent of Stone Mountain State Park in Wilkes and Allegheny counties, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Jones succeeds Bill Meyer, who recently retired after 31 years of service to the division. Jones has served as acting superintendent at Stone Mountain State Park since Bill Meyer’s retirement in December 2018. 

A superintendent is the chief of operations and administration at a state park or state recreation area with wide-ranging responsibilities for staffing, training, law enforcement, visitor services, natural resource protection, community outreach and environmental education.

A native of Laurel Springs, Jeff made many visits to Stone Mountain during his childhood. He graduated from Mount Olive College with a degree in Recreation and Leisure and later started as a seasonal employee at New River State Park. Since then, he has gained 17 years of experience as a park ranger at Merchants Millpond and Stone Mountain state parks. Prior to serving state parks, Jeff was a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper. 

“Jeff brings an invaluable familiarity with Stone Mountain State Park and surrounding communities that will be a great advantage in managing the park,” said Dwayne Patterson, state parks director. “His skills and wisdom from extensive experience in parks across the state and particularly in the mountain region will be great assets for the park and its visitors.”

Stone Mountain State Park was established in 1969 and now encompasses 14,210 acres. It recorded 419,202 visitors in 2018. Stone Mountain is also a National Natural Landmark. 

Gifts of Land for the Benefit of All: Blue Ridge Conservancy

Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) received a generous donation of a conservation easement protecting 186 acres in Alleghany County.  Landowner Marvin Mann contacted BRC with interest in conserving his farmland used for agriculture, forestry, and recreational hunting. The land is located adjacent to Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

“I enjoy the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains; my goal is to preserve the beauty of this property through the ages for the enjoyment of numerable people forever and for the benefit of wildlife,” said Mann.

BRC recognizes the need to protect the rapidly vanishing rural landscape and farmland in Western North Carolina. Forestlands in rural landscapes provide valuable benefits, such as the protection of wildlife habitat for threatened and endangered species, and viable economic options for landowners.

186 acres of protected forest and farmland in Alleghany County.

“Protecting the High Country’s agricultural heritage is part of Blue Ridge Conservancy’s mission,” said Charlie Brady, BRC’s Executive Director. “We realize the importance of working lands to the overall economic health of North Carolina. Finding ways to protect the conservation values of our mountains while promoting economic prosperity is a priority for BRC.” 

Eleven other private conservation easement properties are located within a 5-mile radius of Mr. Mann’s property, as well as 4 state or federally managed conservation lands including Stone Mountain State Park, Thurmond Chatham Game Land, Bullhead Mountain State Natural Area and the Sparta Bog Conservation Site.  These large tracts of undeveloped land adjacent or in close proximity to one another promote healthy wildlife connectivity to support needs for breeding, feeding, and migration.

BRC works with its conservation easement landowners to conduct land management activities for protecting and enhancing a property’s conservation values.  A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows the landowner to continue to own and use the land, sell it, or pass it on to heirs.  Conservation easements run with the land, therefore future landowners need to abide by the restrictions as well.

From implementing Best Management Practices to controlling invasive species, BRC can help landowners obtain the necessary resources to take care of their land.  BRC relies on its partner agencies like the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, NC Cooperative Extension, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Forest Service to provide conservation easement landowners, as well as BRC, with technical expertise and other resources related to land management.  Some of these agencies provide financial assistance to landowners willing to implement BMPs or enhance wildlife habitat on their property.

To learn more about BRC’s mission, conservation successes, and ways to become involved, please visit

Cattle grazing on the Mann Farm.

About Blue Ridge Conservancy

Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) is a local, nonprofit land trust dedicated to conserving land and water resources in Northwestern North Carolina. BRC has conserved over 20,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties. 

BRC’s efforts have resulted in the protection of scenic vistas, working farmland, rare and threatened ecological habitats, and clean water resources.  BRC assists the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain State Park and Elk Knob State Park expand their borders, established Pond Mountain Game Land, and is spearheading the Middle Fork Greenway project to connect Boone to Blowing Rock. 

More information about Blue Ridge Conservancy is available at


Meet Alleghany JAM's New Program Director!

Alleghany JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) has hired a new Program Director. Fiddler, Erynn Marshall will be joining the non-profit that provides instruction in traditional music and dance to children after-school.

Photographed by Susi Lawson

Photographed by Susi Lawson

Erynn Marshall begins this January at the JAM House (formerly the Senator’s House) on Main Street in downtown Sparta. Marshall will step into the position previously held by Samantha Sawyer Wilhelmi who has accepted a new job dancing at the Hatfield and McCoy Theater in Pigeon Forge.

Marshall has been teaching traditional music for 25 years in schools and through private instruction. Growing up in a musical family, she began learning music at age eight in elementary school at a program similar to JAM.

“I really enjoy working with and teaching young people,” says Marshall. “Sharing the music and the history of the tunes brings generations together.”

Marshall was Music Program Manager at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway for five years (near Galax). She directed the BRMC concert series and assisted in the curation of the Roots of American Music museum. Local visitors and tourists would often request that she play her fiddle or dance for them.

In the last two years, Marshall, and her multi-instrumentalist-husband Carl Jones, have performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and China. She also coordinates the Swannanoa Gathering Old-Time Week - a summer music camp at Warren-Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. When not touring Erynn has also participated in the Galax JAM program as a substitute teacher.

“I look forward to meeting and working with all the students in Alleghany JAM and being a service to the JAM program in any way I can. It is such a inspiring program. JAM helps young people learn about, carry on and take pride in the music and dance heritage of this area,” Says Marshall. “It will be an honor to work for this local non-profit that does such good for kids and the community.”

Oh the Places You Can Dine!

What creates the ultimate dining experience?  For some it requires exotic dishes while for others it is more familiar staples. Some patrons value a quiet, intimate experience while others enjoy a more raucous, community feel where neighbors greet neighbors with handshakes, hugs and inquiries about family.  Paper or cloth napkins; vegetarian or steak; American or international; live music or none; all these things impact our assessment of the perfect dining experience. Fortunately, we can meet all of those needs in Alleghany County. 

But where is your favorite place to enjoy a meal in Alleghany County?

This month, Authentically Alleghany will set out to answer that question.  For the next two weeks, up to once a day, you can list your favorite dining establishment. Go to to vote.  You will be prompted to enter your email address and asked if you would like to receive future events listings.  You can then write in your favorite place. If you need your memory refreshed of all the available locations visit the Dining tab found here on our website.

After two weeks, the votes will be counted and the top five locations will be listed.  For the next two weeks, you may once again choose from those five contenders to name your favorite dining experience in Alleghany County.  The winner will be listed as the featured restaurant on the dining page of the website.  The other four will be listed just below the featured spot.

Alleghany County has a rich history of stepping up to help neighbors through difficult times.  Mid-winter can be one of those times for small businesses, especially restaurants.  Let’s show our support for these local entrepreneurs by casting a vote.  More importantly, visit these businesses for an outstanding meal.

Alleghany Junior Appalachian Musicians Release a Music CD  

Alleghany Junior Appalachian Musicians (AJAM) spent this year recording their second full length CD release “Alleghany Jammin’ 2011-2018”. The project features 20 advanced students from the 2017-2018 school years being backed up by 10 members of the staff as well as by Helen White and Wayne Henderson. The CD project allowed the students to experience in a professional recording studio and work with Wes Easter who is one of the best sound engineers for acoustic music in our region.  The CD’s final track is a “live track” of 20 of our beginner students singing as a group which we recorded at Alleghany JAM in the classroom (totaling 40 students on the CD).

“The students showed a lot of enthusiasm for this project and worked hard to create a great recording. It also serves as an archive of the last ten years of music being played at Alleghany JAM,” reports AJAM Board Chair, Deborah Sherrill. “Instructor Caroline Beverley did a great job producing the CD. Board member Kate Irwin did all the graphic design for the cover. This was a once in a lifetime experience for Alleghany JAM students to be able to go into a recording studio and perform- it’s really special.”


On December 9 from 2:00-4:00 pm, AJAM students will perform selections from the CD at Horizon Bistro located at 38 South Main Street in Sparta. CD’s will be for sale at the event, and beverages and desserts will be available to purchase. The Board of Directors for Alleghany Junior Appalachian Musicians would like to invite everyone to come support these students as they promote this new project.


Alleghany JAM is an after-school program that partners students in grades 3 through l2 with talented area musicians to mentor young people in the traditional music ("old-time") and the cultural heritage of North Carolina mountain communities. Core classes are offered in guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin. In addition, students are offered a choice of either singing or traditional dance (clogging). They are also immersed in the genre of "old-time" music, culture, and history in monthly enrichment classes. Teaching emphasizes ear-training which replicates the experience of one generation passing on musical traditions to the next. Students are coached in appropriate stage presence for performances and encouraged to participate in regional fiddler's conventions. AJAM currently meets at the Senators House located next the Sparta Elementary School. More information can be found at