Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's the most North Carolina time of the year

(Since I'm lazy and just copying my own past posts, the numbers may be old and in need of updating. Paging geeks and stat wonks!)
This is quite honestly one of our "go-to" blog posts each year, but it's for a good reason. As we've said before, the time from around Thanksgiving to the end of the year could quite possibly be called North Carolina's Time to Shine.

[A]s you're digging into turkey and sweet potatoes, and decorating that Christmas tree, you are probably doing some of the best economic support for the Old North State that is possible. And the good news is that families all across the rest of the nation are doing it too.
We published this a few years ago. While the numbers may be off some, they're probably not off by that much.

At that time, the state was the second-largest turkey-producing state after Minnesota. (And probably is still.)
And then there are the sweet potatoes.

North Carolina has been the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, according to the Department of Agriculture. "Today more than 40% of the natinal [sic] supply of sweet potatoes comes from North Carolina."

And, finally, the holiday season closes out with Christmas trees.

"The North Carolina Christmas Tree Industry is ranked second in the nation in number of trees harvested and first in the nation in terms of dollars made per tree," according to the N.C. Christmas Tree Association.

"The North Carolina Fraser fir has been judged the Nation's best through a contest sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association and chosen for the official White House Christmas tree nine times (more than any other species) 1971, 1973, 1982, 1984, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2005, and 2007 [and 2008]."

AN UPDATE! The News & Observer just today has an article about how this has been a "bumper crop" year for North Carolina's Christmas tree industry.

Let's go to reporter (and fantastic neighbor) Josh Shaffer:

North Carolina counts 1,600 growers turning out roughly 5 million trees a year, a statistic that ranks the state’s harvest second nationwide behind Oregon. This year’s 19-foot White House tree came from Peak Farms in Ashe County. ... 
Farm income from Christmas trees totaled $85 million last year, though analysts say prices have been trending down for several years due to competition from fakes.

Real-tree dealers face heavy competition from artificial trees, which coupled with the down economy has put pressure on lower prices, said John Frampton, forestry professor at N.C. State University. But the industry expects the same slow uptick that much of the economy is seeing.

Read more here:

Read more here:

So there ya go. Happy ThanksgiviNg and Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This is what you've been missing

As noted, a lot of the focus here has shifted to our Facebook page. (Like us today, please!) The fact of the matter, it's just faster to post items there than it has been here of late That's not to say we'll never update the blog again, it's just that it won't be as often.

If you have not liked us on Facebook yet, this is a sample of what you've missed over the past couple of weeks:

Fox News fails geography, uses really bad map of North Carolina

N.C. leaders, friends remember Bill Friday

Some "spooky" N.C. articles

North Carolina has a literary map

Hooray! N.C. has nation's top business climate

Happy birthday to past president Jimmy Polk

... and to Billy Graham!

And nothing quite closes out 2012 like discussion about a New Year's Eve party ... involving a possum ... and a lawsuit.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Check us out on the Facebook

Yes, I said the Facebook. So sue me.

Anyhoo, you've probably noticed a lack of posts of late. That's primarily because, frankly, due to work obligations, yours truly just doesn't have as much time to come up with clever, creative, witty things to say about our beautiful state. Actually, scratch that. I DO have some time, just not as much. Because of that, most of what I am coming across these days are winding up on our Facebook group page. (Oh, you didn't know the Society had a Facebook page? Well  you do now.)

Go sign up today ( ) and follow us on Facebook. While you may not get daily updates regarding the Old North State, I can guarantee that they will be more frequent than, well, since July.

Thanks again for reading! And I do hope/promise to post more to the blog soon.

Friday, July 06, 2012

N.C. beaches cited for water quality

North Carolina and Virginia's beaches were cited for good water quality -- and just in time for the peak of holiday season.

According to reports, the two state's rates of contamination of beach water samples last year were among the lowest of coastal states, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The New York-based environmental advocate warned, however, that beaches nationwide last year saw the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades. ...

North Carolina beaches ranked third in beach water quality, according to the report. ...

Nearly 3,000 vacation beaches were studied in the report.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

RIP, Doc Watson: The face to the world of North Carolina

Obviously this isn't "new" news, but we'd be remiss if we didn't comment on the passing of music legend Doc Watson at the age of 89. The Old North State has taken a PR beating in recent weeks; it's sad that it took the death of Watson to remind us all of just how great this state really is.

Watson was never a big record-seller, making the Billboard charts only once in his career (and then no higher than No. 193, in 1975 with the album "Memories"). But he transcended mainstream popularity, earning eight Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award in 2004.

Watson's influence was vast, on audiences and other musicians.

"He was a great and groundbreaking guitarist, but Doc was more than that," said Wayne Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council. "He made musical traditions of Western North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains accessible to millions. His guitar was a powerful tool to get people's attention, but I don't think it was his greatest legacy."

Watson was instrumental in transforming the guitar from a background rhythm role to a lead instrument in acoustic music. Yet few players in any style came close to duplicating his flawless flatpicking style. Generations of acoustic guitarists would spend hours trying to match the grace and speed Watson combined as he played tunes such as "Black Mountain Rag" and "Billy in the Lowground."

Watson never went out of his way to call attention to himself. Barry Poss, who released 13 of Watson's albums on his Sugar Hill Records label, used to get frustrated with Watson's modesty in the recording studio.

"If there's another guitar player around, he'll almost always defer to that other player and lay back," Poss said of Watson in 2003. "He really has no interest in pretentiousness, showing off, 'Here's what I can do.' It just never happens. In the studio, it can be hard to get him to take a hot lead."

While he played all over the world, Watson still lived most of his life in the vicinity of the Deep Gap community where he was born in 1923. Blind since infancy, Watson's first childhood instrument was harmonica. His father made him a banjo at age 10, and he learned the basics of guitar from a neighbor.

Perhaps this comment says it best:

"Doc has been an influence on every player of traditional music that I know," said Joe Newberry, who works for the state arts council and plays in various ensembles. "I used to say that Doc is what North Carolina sounds like. But somebody posted on my Facebook wall, no, Doc is what America sounds like. He's been a good face to the world for North Carolina."

Read more here:

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cheerwine and Avetts join up for a great cause

Arguably two of the greatest "products" of North Carolina are Cheerwine and the Avett Brothers. Well, the two have teamed up for a good cause.

From a press release that just went out:

Cheerwine®, the legendary soft drink of the South, is joining forces with North Carolina indie-rockers the Avett Brothers to present the Legendary Giveback concert, an evening that will raise awareness and funds for a number of nonprofit organizations this fall. The two Southern icons are teaming up for one night, in one town in the Southeast, to bring their fans together and raise awareness of the causes in need. 

A portion of the proceeds raised by the concert will benefit a number of local and national charities, specifically addressing the needs of families. Operation Homefront, a national charity that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and Wounded Warriors, will be one of the primary recipients, and the other partner organizations will be announced this summer. ...

The Legendary Giveback builds upon the relationship Cheerwine and the Avett Brothers have cultivated in recent years, which includes Scott Avett voicing a series of Cheerwine radio advertisements. The partnership will allow Cheerwine and Avett Brothers fans to enjoy the concert experience of a lifetime, with the added bonus of supporting a number of important causes. ...

"As musicians, an event like this is a natural way for us to give back to our fans," said Scott Avett, lead singer and multi-instrumentalist for the Avett Brothers. "To realize the needs of these groups is humbling. We're proud to be able to contribute."
Details of the concert will be revealed in July. Fans are encouraged to stay tuned for updates at and on Twitter at

What a terrific partnership. A good buddy of mine once had cartons of Cheerwine shipped to him when he lived in Washington, D.C. And we have addressed on this blog how the Avetts may just be the "most" North Carolina of acts.

Read more here:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Must read: Why Am I a North Carolinian?

One of the nice things about being in the communications world is often random publications come across my desk that I otherwise would never see. One such publication that I recently saw for the first time was North Carolina Conversations, a quarterly of the North Carolina Humanities Council. (In all honesty, I had never heard of either the publication OR the Council.)

In the Winter/Spring issue of Conversations is a wonderful piece by Melton McLaurin, professor emeritus of history at UNC Wilmington and a former chair of the N.C. Humanities Council. Here is a link to Conversations; McLaurin's "Why Am I  a North Carolinian" is on page 7.

For those of us who grew up in the Old North State, this is a fantastic, nostalgic and romantic look at why we love this state so much. McLaurin writes -- stream of conscious -- about childhood trips to Carolina Beach, or visits to family in Virginia ("a foreign land"). He talks of the state fair, and of basketball -- "the other religion" -- and the "magic figures" of Everett Case and Frank McGuire. In short, he writes of a "sense of place, of rootedness."

I can't do it justice. Just promise me you'll read it.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Remembering sailors on Ocracoke's 'British' soil

We first heard about this three years ago, and it's a very fascinating story. From the N&O.

Tom Cunningham considers it a great act of generosity that the people on the small island of Ocracoke would set aside a plot of land to bury his father and three other British sailors 70 years ago.

Sub-Lt. Thomas Cunningham was one of 37 crewmen aboard the HMS Bedfordshire when it was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of North Carolina on the night of May 11, 1942.

The Bedfordshire, a fishing trawler outfitted with guns and loaded with depth charges, was one of two dozen ships of its kind that the British navy loaned the United States in the early months of 1942, in an attempt to ward off the U-boats preying on tankers and freighters along the East Coast.

None of the Bedfordshire crew survived the sinking. Three days later, two bodies washed up on Ocracoke, followed by two more a week later. They were buried in that small plot now known as the British Cemetery.

Two of the men were identified, and two were not. All four were laid to rest on the island, and that spot of land was deeded to England after the war. 

On Friday, as they do every year, the U.S. Coast Guard, the British and Canadian governments and the people of the Outer Banks will hold a ceremony at the cemetery to commemorate those four sailors and the others who were never found. And for just the second time, Sub-Lt. Cunningham’s son will be there.

“For 70 years, give or take, the American people have been putting themselves through a great deal of trouble to commemorate those British seamen who died during the war,” Cunningham said by phone from his home near Liverpool. “It’s their way of saying thank you to us, and [coming to Ocracoke] is my way of acknowledging their thanks.”

Read more here:

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Friday, March 30, 2012

'One Tree Hill' prepares for its final show

Sure, it was never going to win awards by the critics, but when "One Tree Hill" wraps up its run on Wednesday, it will do so with its head held high.

Like any show that involved "young people," it had its share of flaws. (Like, for instance: How can a small town like Tree Hill, N.C., produce an NBA player, not one but TWO international music recording stars, a nationally-known author and a well-known TV "evangelist?") But it should also be commended for figuring out new ways to do things. For instance: Why pull the "90210" stunt and have all the main characters attend the same college, when you can just skip ahead four years (and then skip ahead another few years later on)? Sounds kooky, but it actually worked.

At its heart, the show meant well. Like any show that has had a long run, it had to introduce new characters and replace old ones -- sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't. But I always appreciated the effort. In addition, I think the storylines have been some of the best on TV for many years -- and I say that admitting I didn't watch many of the first few seasons.

This is a site devoted to "North Carolina" things, and "One Tree Hill" has brought great attention to the state, especially the Wilmington area -- even if the show only slightly referenced the Old North State (Nathan considering playing basketball for Duke; the state championship game being played at the then-RBC Center; Mouth having a UNC flag in his apartment; Nathan conveniently playing for the Bobcats, etc.). But the show developed a legion of hardcore fans that flocked to the Port City to find the River Court, or Karen's Cafe. And since "OTH" has found a niche on SoapNet, you can bet the fans will continue to make pilgrimages for years.

The last episode will air this Wednesday. Here is a preview of the 2-hour finale.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

R.I.P. Earl Scruggs

North Carolina has produced more than its share of influential musicians: John Coltrane, James Taylor, Link Wray. But Earl Scruggs may even top that impressive list. Scruggs, who grew up in Shelby but who would go on to "transform acoustic music with his fiery five-string banjo style," died Wednesday at 88 in Nashville.

From the News & Observer:
... Scruggs won international fame initially as the duet partner of guitarist Lester Flatt between 1948 and 1969. The duet and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, lived briefly in Raleigh in 1952 while playing on radio station WPTF.

Scruggs was known nationally and internationally for intricate tunes such as “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” made famous in the 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme. He attracted fans all over the world and admirers as diverse as comedian Steve Martin, actress Angelina Jolie and pop-rocker Elton John.

ad more here:

At the time Scruggs achieved stardom, the banjo was an instrument most closely associated with the cornball humor and rowdy songs of traveling medicine shows. In later years, the New York Times famously dubbed him the Paganini of the banjo, a reference to the famed violinist. ...

Scruggs had been in poor health for months; his family said his death came as a result of “natural causes.” In January, likely aware of Scruggs’ fragile state, Martin wrote a eulogistic piece for The New Yorker praising the performer who heavily influenced Martin’s own banjo style.


Scruggs, a soft-spoken, modest person who generally found time to give an ear to the fans who wanted just a word with the legendary figure, won virtually every award that popular music could present. From membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame to three Grammy awards to performances at the White House, he was recognized widely as a genius of folk music.

Born Jan. 6, 1924, Scruggs worked around the family farm and in area mills as he developed a more sophisticated, revved-up version of the area’s three-finger banjo style. While in his early 20s, he earned a place, along with Flatt, in the band of Kentucky singer and mandolin master Bill Monroe, another giant figure in the formation of bluegrass.

With Flatt and Scruggs to spur him to new musical heights, Monroe created tremendous musical excitement as the band played regular engagements on the Grand Ole Opry and crisscrossed the South playing auditoriums, country churches and schoolhouses.

In 1948, Flatt and Scruggs went on their own to create a band that would surpass Monroe’s in popularity, both with their original songs and their blazing-fast, intricate picking.

“He was so far ahead of his time, that so many players today are still trying to figure out the little things he did 60 years ago,” Mills said.

Scruggs was the behind-the-scenes business force of the act, working in concert with his business-savvy wife, Louise, who died in 2006. The group toured constantly, moving around the South to bases such as Bristol, Tenn., and Raleigh, where son Randy was born in 1952.


Always a more adventurous musician than Flatt, Scruggs parted ways with the guitarist in 1969 and started a band with sons Randy, Gary and Steve. They perfected a country-rock sound that brought them widespread acceptance in the burgeoning youth culture of the day.

Scruggs was plagued by injuries and left the Earl Scruggs Revue to issue solo records beginning in the 1980s. He and Louise were famous as hosts of picking parties where bold-face names such Chet Atkins and Vince Gill rubbed elbows with new pickers in town and hosts of family members.

Scruggs always remembered North Carolina fondly. His home area is repaying the favor with the development of the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby as a monument to the farm boy who brought fame to the banjo, even as it brought fame to him.

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Once again, Biltmore leads the way

Asheville's Biltmore Estate is sure hard to top. The site once again leads the list of most visited North Carolina museums and historic attractions, and for the sixth consecutive year attracted more than a million visitors.

The largest private home in America drew 1,101,413 guests during 2011, according to a press release.

"We are always honored to be recognized as a favorite destination for visitors to the Carolinas," said Bill Cecil, President and CEO of Biltmore. "Despite the tough economic conditions of the last few years, people are continuing to travel and we are honored when they choose Biltmore as a destination. We believe the variety of things to do at the estate, including Biltmore House, our gardens, the winery and Antler Hill Village, makes the visit fun and memorable."

Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach placed second in the annual survey conducted by Carolina Publishing Associates with 757,000 guests. Rounding out the top five most visited museums and historic attractions were Discovery Place of Charlotte, with 745,060 visiting, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh with 712,313 and the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro with 694,929.

Monday, February 27, 2012

AP: Mysterious orbs confound NC county for decades

If you've read this blog before, you know we are HUGE fans of North Carolina's many ghost stories. One of my all-time faves is the Brown Mountain Lights. Well, the Associated Press recently tackled this age-old legend.

Two orange orbs, just about 10 feet off the ground, floated past Steve Woody and his father as they hunted deer more than 50 years ago. The mysterious lights passed them, then dropped down the side of a gorge in the Blue Ridge foothills.

For at least a century, the Brown Mountain Lights have confounded residents and tourists in a rugged patch of Burke County, bobbing and weaving near a modest peak. Are they reflections from automobile headlights? Brush fires? A paranormal phenomenon, or something natural not yet explained by science?

"I didn't feel anything spooky or look around for Martians or anything like that," Woody said. "It was just a unique situation. It's just as vivid now as when I was 12 years old."

Whatever the explanation, tourism officials are hoping all those decades of unanswered questions add up to a boost in visitors making their way to scenic outlooks around Linville Gorge with the goal of spotting something mysterious.

Unexplained mysteries like the Brown Mountain Lights have been the subject of cable TV documentaries and have fueled vast online communities of amateur investigators. Ed Phillips, Burke County's tourism director, is hoping to capitalize on that.

Earlier this month, a sellout crowd of 120 paid $20 a head to attend a symposium on the lights at Morganton City Hall, and there was a crowd outside the door hoping to get in at the last minute.

"It's a good problem to have," Phillips said. "I could have sold 500 tickets."


The Brown Mountain Lights have drawn serious scientific interest since the 1920s, when the U.S. Geological Survey issued a report concluding the lights were reflections from automobiles, trains and brush fires.

Daniel Caton, a professor in the physics and astronomy department at Appalachian State University, thinks that's part of the explanation for what people have reported seeing over the years. But Caton thinks there's more to the lights, at least in some cases.

Caton said that about seven years ago, he was ready to give up studying the lights when he began hearing from people who said they saw them from mere feet away, not miles across the Linville Gorge. Those accounts sounded to Caton a lot like firsthand reports of ball lightning, a little-understood but naturally occurring phenomenon involving luminous spheres often said to move or bounce about in the air.

No more Andy's burgers ... well, sorta

Like Hardee's before it, Andy's Burgers, Shakes & Fries has become something of an Eastern North Carolina success story. The burger restaurant chain has been so successful, in fact, it is looking to branch out. And because of this, the restaurant has changed its name to Highway 55.

From a release:

Although the name is changing, the restaurant chain’s concept will stay the same as it’s been since its establishment in 1991 and Highway 55 will continue to deliver the brand’s traditional American classics in the same family-friendly, ‘50s diner setting. Patrons can expect to see the new Highway 55 signs in each of the 100 existing locations by the end of summer 2012, and in all new locations throughout the southeast.

The name change was sparked by a potential legal battle over the federal trademark for the name Andy’s that arose as the company prepared to expand outside of its home state. After being known as Andy’s for 20 years, founder and president Kenny Moore decided that a systemwide switch to Highway 55 was the most cost effective way to grow the brand, and would mark the beginning of its next 20 years of success.

“We’re looking at the name change as a positive opportunity to start new and fresh,” Moore said. “Customers will see we’re the same Andy’s they’ve always known, the only difference is the new name. What we’ve built for the past 20 years isn’t going to change at all.”

The company certainly knows where its bread is buttered.

"To celebrate the new name, a mural map of Highway 55, a 192-mile highway stretching across North Carolina from Durham to Oriental, will be painted on the walls of each location. A timeline painted above the map will give patrons a glimpse of Highway 55’s history from 1991 to the present," said the release.

“Some of our locations are 20 years old, so we are using the shift to Highway 55 as a way to refurbish,” said Moore. “We’re changing uniforms and signage – we’ll gradually phase out the old name and logos.”

Moore originally selected the name Andy’s back in 1991 when he opened his first location in Goldsboro, N.C. Andy, Moore’s son, was 18 months old at the time. Since its inception, the chain has stayed true to its classic American concept while growing to include more than 100 restaurants across North Carolina. This year, as Highway 55, the chain will expand outside of North Carolina for the first time when a location opens in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Myrtle Beach restaurant is the start of a greater plan to open 275 additional restaurants in the southeast over the next 6-7 years.

Of those 275 locations, area development agreements are in the works to open 100 locations in Florida—with the first location to open in Palm City— 75 locations in western North Carolina, and 50 locations in South Carolina and Virginia each. A new location in Snow Hill, N.C. is slated to open in mid-February, and the Myrtle Beach location will open before April. Looking ahead to the fourth quarter of 2012, a store in Greenville, N.C. is planned to open near the end of the year.

Longtime Andy’s franchisees J.R. Cottle and Chris LaCoe are partnering together to develop the 50 upcoming South Carolina Highway 55 locations. Cottle currently owns three North Carolina restaurants—in Rockingham, Lumberton and Locust, and LaCoe owns four in Gum Branch, Leland, Shallotte and Surf City.

“We’re positioned to go into this year with a new name, a fresh start and ambitious plans for growth,” Moore said. “People will watch and see Highway 55 really take off this year.”

Thoughts on this? I'm kinda "meh" with the name change.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The shad boat: The 'pick-up truck' of watercraft

The latest issue of Coastwatch*, the N.C. Sea Grant program's beautiful publication, has a wonderful piece on some of North Carolina's more "coastal" state symbols, such as the state shell (Scotch bonnet -- pronounced "bonn-ay") and the state fish (red drum).

Sure, it's interesting enough to have an official state shell or state fish, but I've always been intrigued that North Carolina can boast an official state boat. I knew little about the shad boat before reading this article; it now makes perfect sense why it's the state boat.

"Despite its graceful appearance, the shad boat, commonly referred to as the 'pickup truck' of watercraft, navigated our not-so-tranquil sounds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries," writes Coastwatch.

Tom Harrison with Go Wild in Washington County has more about the history of the boat:

The Albemarle Sound, being an expansive but relatively shallow body of water, has a reputation for being extremely rough in high winds. Therefore in the days of sail, traditional small sailing craft were generally not well-suited for weather conditions in the Albemarle Sound. This led to the development and evolution of what became known as the Albemarle Sound Shad Boat.

This shallow draft work boat is unique because it is the only known America sailboat design that had a combination of a spritsail, jib, and a topsail! (A sprit is a pole or spar extended diagonally upward from a mast to the topmost corner of a fore-and-aft sail, serving to extend the sail. A spritsail doesn’t usually have a traditional boom along the bottom of the sail.) The topsail was added to provide additional working canvas high in the air so the boats could work close to forested shores that would becalm the lower spritsail or jib.

The Albemarle Sound Shad Boat is a durable round-bottomed boat with a heart-shaped transom. It was developed after the Civil War and was also known as a “seine boat”. It had a straight bow that was sharply raked, (a boating term meaning, inclined from vertical). Typically, the Albemarle Sound Shad Boat was 18’-33’ in length and was constructed with native Atlantic White Cedar, locally known as Juniper. In boat shops this light-weight naturally rot resistant wood was often called “Southern Cedar”.

The hull was carvel planked, meaning the board planking ran longitudinal and was attached to the frame with nails or screws. The advantage of this traditional construction method was that if a board began to rot or was damaged, it could easily be removed and replaced without ripping the boat apart. The hull was un-decked except for washboards along the gunwales and was most often painted white. It was ballasted with 15-30 sandbags, depending on the size of the boat. The sandbag covers were made of sailcloth and the sandbags were shifted from the center to the windward side during a blow.

According to Coastwatch, original shad boats are still displayed at several locations in North Carolina, including the Roanoke Island Festival Park, the Currituck Heritage Park Museum in Corolla, the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City and the Port O'Plymouth Maritime Museum.

As a (very) amateur sailor, it seems like these boats would be easy on which to learn. Is this true, or am I just WAY off base?

*If you're a fan of the coast, seafood, sea life, etc., and you're not reading Coastwatch, you are really missing out.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our State mag unveils new travel N.C. mobile phone app

From a press release:

Smartphone users have a new digital tool to help them discover and explore the Tar Heel state as Our State magazine, North Carolina's long- time source of travel information and stories, launches a new app called TRAVEL NORTH CAROLINA.

Perfect for North Carolina residents looking to travel or for visitors from out of state, the app is free to download for Apple and Google Android devices. It comes pre-loaded more than 1,000 points of interest around the state, organized by region of the state into themed tours and categories. Other features include:

  • Easy-to-use navigation, organized by region of North Carolina.
  • Turn-by-turn GPS directions to all points of interest.
  • Clickable addresses, phone numbers, and websites for easy planning
  • Photos, videos, and social media links for selected points of interest.
  • Themed tours including attractions, historical sites, lighthouses, museums, national and state parks, outdoor adventures, shopping, and more.

· Statewide tours like "Breakfast in North Carolina" and the "North Carolina Food Tour" inspired by Our State magazine content.

TRAVEL NORTH CAROLINA is available for download in the App Store and Android Market.
Details are available at

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

N.C. film news involves 'Caged Heat' (code name for 'Iron Man 3')

There's a flurry of North Carolina-related motion picture news of late. First was the report that Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly will begin work in Wilmington next month.

Producer Judy Cairo confirmed Friday afternoon reports from national entertainment publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter that the independent film "Writers" is on its way to the area.

"We'll be filming in Wilmington in March, primarily around Wrightsville Beach," Cairo said. "Greg Kinnear plays a famous novelist who lives in a beach community, thus the attraction of shooting in Wilmington. Jennifer Connelly plays his ex-wife, with whom he's obsessed."

The Wilmington Regional Film Commission's website, according to the Star-News, now lists "The Occult" and "Heart of the Country" in preproduction, along with "The Conjuring" and "Caged Heat," which is widely known as the code name for "Iron Man 3."

Johnny Griffin, director of the film commission, said both new movies are feature films and "here and in the process of getting organized" for production. He said he was unable to disclose additional details.

According to the website for "Heart of the Country," produced by Bayridge Films, the movie's principal photography is tentatively slated for March and April in Wilmington and New York City. It's based on the novel by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward and is a modern retelling of "The Prodigal" story.

No further information on "The Occult" was available Tuesday morning.

And, finally, Mike Wiley is getting rave reviews as he performs ALL 36 ROLES in the feature film, "Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till," according to a press release. A N.C. screening is set for Feb. 13.

Wiley and the North Carolina filmmakers deliver riveting performances in the story, trial, and unbelievable confessions of those accused of Emmett Till's murder in this 1955 tragedy which changed the course of history in the United States.

Two and a half years in the making by award winning North Carolina filmmakers, the World and European premieres are now set for "Dar He". A screening for North Carolina media has been added to the calendar. ...

"Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till" was adapted from the critically acclaimed one man show written and performed by local theatre heavyweight, Mike Wiley, similarly titled "Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till." It is a true-crime drama of a 14-year old Black boy from Chicago murdered for allegedly whistling at a White woman while visiting family in Money, Mississippi in 1955. The screenplay was crafted from public record and the historic interviews conducted by William Bradford Huie of Look magazine. When the story was published, it became a lightning rod across the nation for moral outrage. "His death was a spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement in America," Ed Bradley, Emmy Award-winning journalist.

"Dar He" was created by acclaimed North Carolina filmmakers who collaborated on other films including, "Empty Space" (2009) and "Wolf Call" (2010). These films are winners of fifteen festival awards, eight nominations, dozens of official selections, special screenings, and other honors. "Wolf Call" is currently on festival tour and nominated for a Black Reel Award for Outstanding Short Film. The international success of both these films helped inspire the making of "Dar He". Mr. Wiley is winner of numerous best actor awards from 2009 to 2011 for his performance in both films, including Best Actor at the 25th Black International Cinema Berlin and Best Actor at the Carrboro Film Festival in 2009 and 2010.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Quick hits: People stealing Venus fly traps, and Sierra Nevada chooses our state

3 poachers arrested for uprooting rare N.C. Venus fly traps
"The Venus flytrap's precarious survival in the wild along the coast of the Carolinas faces an added threat from poachers looking to cash in by uprooting and selling them," says the AP.

"Three people were arrested this week and charged with uprooting an endangered species without permission, a misdemeanor. North Carolina wildlife enforcement officer Matt Criscoe says they took about 200 of the bug-eating plants, which they expected to sell for about 10 cents apiece. ..."

Sierra Nevada choose N.C. for East Coast expansion

"West Coast craft beer-maker Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is opening a production site in North Carolina to expand its East Coast reach," says reports.

"The Chico, Calif.-based company said Wednesday it chose a site along the French Broad River 12 miles south of Asheville as the home of its East Coast brewery.

"Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman says the mountain region's beer culture, water quality and quality of life were right for his company...."

Read more here:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sports Hall of Fame to hit the road

I'm fortunate that I can walk just a few blocks (either from home or work) to spend my lunch hour marveling at the wonderful exhibits in the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame, which is housed in the N.C. Museum of History. Not everyone is as lucky. The good news is that very soon there will be a mobile version of the sports museum. Not a mobile app, mind you, but a real, honest-to-goodness mobile unit that will take the story of the state's sports heritage out and about.

From WECT:
While the Hall of Fame itself remains in Raleigh, a small version of it will be on the road, hopefully by the spring of next year.

"It is a mobile unit that we are very excited about," said [Museum Executive Director Don] Fish. "It will offer us the opportunity to expose the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame throughout the state and encourage people to come back here, to Raleigh, for the full view of the museum."

Hall of Fame officials hope the new mobile unit will be up and running by May 2012, just in time for the next induction ceremony and the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

If you have never made it to the Sports Hall of Fame, I highly recommend it. As WECT describes it, you'll find "the story of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, who emerged from the small town of Randleman, to become one of the most famous sports figures in the country's history" to Jimmy V's warm-up suit to Choo-Choo Justice's jersey and much more.