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Posted by on Nov 9, 2011 in Event, October, Places To Go, Road Trips | 0 comments

Annual Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk


A festival about woolly worms in a little mountain city? What does that have to do with anything?

Woolly Worm Festival began in 1977 and is held every third weekend on Saturday and Sunday in October in Banner Elk and begins at 9 a.m. The event is co-sponsored by the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and by Kiwanis of Avery County and reaches over 23,000 people a year.

Woolly Worm Festival includes local music, dancing and a ton of entertainment and food. Over a hundred craft and food vendors come to this event along with rides for children, musicians and dance teams. The highlight of this family festival is the Woolly Worm Races where the mountain folk use brown and black stripes on the woolly worm to predict the severity of the coming winter!

What are woolly worms you ask? And what do they have to do with weather?
Woolly worms are the caterpillar or the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth. The worms have may have a burnt orange color in the middle and may be black on both ends. Some can be completely black or brown. They are normally found during the fall months in great numbers can since the woolly worm has two life cycles, you can also find them around June and July.

Parts of the world believe that the woolly worm can predict the severity on the weather based on the intensity of the black on the woolly worms. It is believed in American Northeast, that the more brown on it’s body than black, it will be a fair winter and if it has more black than brown, the winter will be harsh. And now the race begins! In each heat, there are 20 worms that race against one another. Whichever worm can climb the string the quickest on Saturday is declared the official winter forecasting agent! Another worm winner is chosen on Sunday but that worm wins prestige and small prizes. The public is allowed to enter their worms in the races.

This festival is very important for the local population of Banner Elk. It carries further meaning than just “having a great time.” This festival marks a time to embrace the upcoming chilly months, sharpen their skis and make plans for the outdoor plants to come in.

About Kiwanis International

Kiwanis co-sponsors the Woolly Worm Festival every year. It is an international organization of members and volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. Together, the members and volunteers give more than six million hours and $100 million each year. This organization believes in teaching leadership skills to young people.

All the profits made from the Woolly Worm Festival go toward county-wide projects along with targeting the children of Avery County that is set forth by the Kiwanis Club charter. Many local organizations are benefited from this event each year.

To volunteer for the event, you can download the volunteer form here.
Check out their website for more details.
Check out a YouTube video about the event here and see what this race is all about!

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