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What’s all the Fuzz about?

By Jamie Shell (jamie.shell@averyjournal.com)



Article Published: Oct. 24, 2013 | Modified: Oct. 24, 2013
What’s all the Fuzz about?

Michelle Griffin of Ansonville huffs and puffs to urge her woolly worm, Fuzz, on to victory in the final race on Saturday at the 36th Annual Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk.

Photo by Jim Morton



Facts

The Fearless Woolly Worm Forecast

With its victory, Fuzz earned the right to be the official worm used to predict winter weather in the North Carolina mountains for the upcoming season. According to the reading of the worm by festival forecaster Tommy Burleson, Fuzz predicts the following forecast:

Week 1: Average cold, wet snow and rain
Week 2: Average cold, wet snow and rain
Week 3: Average cold, wet snow and rain
Week 4: Above average temperatures
Week 5: Above average temperatures
Week 6: Above average temperatures
Week 7: Above average temperatures
Week 8: Above average temperatures
Week 9: Warm weather
Week 10: Warm weather
Week 11: Warm weather
Week 12: Warm weather
Week 13: Warm weather  

Featuring one of the largest crowds to ever attend in its 36-year history, the 2013 Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival brought visitors from near and far for the annual event that left worms (literally) and owners (figuratively) hanging by a string.

An estimated 15,000 people entered the grounds at historic Banner Elk Elementary School on Saturday, Oct. 19, to kick off the weekend’s festivities. The smell of myriad foods and a wide variety of vendors offered a unique experience for each festivalgoer.

The primary business of the Woolly Worm Festival was, of course, the races. On Saturday alone, 66 race heats involving more than 1,600 worms were raced on the big board, with local legend Tommy Burleson among the worm judges and both veteran master of ceremonies Roy Krege and assistant Adam Binder keeping the massive crowd lively with conversation and commentary.

When the smoke cleared and all the races were run late Saturday afternoon, a worm named “Fuzz” stood tall as the grand champion. Owned by Michelle Griffin from Ansonville, Fuzz earned the $1,000 grand prize, as well as the privilege of serving as the official worm predictor of the 13 weeks of winter weather in Banner Elk and the High Country area.

Because Fuzz was possibly the brownest winning woolly worm ever in the 36 years of Woolly Worm Festival competition, official festival forecaster Burleson predicted that, according to Fuzz, the coming winter in the High Country will begin with three weeks of average temperatures and wet snows, followed by five weeks of above average temperatures and ending with five more weeks of warmer than normal temperatures.

The forecast of a mild winter was good news to those less inclined to enjoy the cold and snow, but an ominous harbinger among others, including those involved in the local ski industry who depend on cold temperatures and typical mountain winter weather for strong seasons.

Races were also run on Sunday, with the winning worm and owner taking home a grand prize of $500. Winning Sunday’s festivities was Mackenzie Green of High Point, whose worm, Miranda Lambert, took top honors.

According to Woolly Worm Committee president Mary Jo Brubaker, this year’s festival was an all-around success.

“The vendors were very pleased with their sales, and local businesses I spoke with informed me that their businesses did very well with the visitors to the area during the weekend,” Brubaker said. “The event’s impact reaches beyond the festival itself. It impacts all the businesses in our community.”

Additional Images

Michelle Griffin of Ansonville huffs and puffs to urge her woolly worm, Fuzz, on to victory in the final race on Saturday at the 36th Annual Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk.
Photo by Jim Morton

From left, judge Tommy Burleson and assistant emcee Adam Binder consider the race results at last weekend’s Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival.
Photo by Jamie Shell

An estimated 15,000 people congregate in Banner Elk for the 36th annual Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival.
Photo by Jamie Shell

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