The Caldwell County Agricultural Fair started in 1946 when a group of county farmers joined together to celebrate their harvest but has grown into one of the largest annual events in the county, drawing some of the largest crowds.
The fair has not lost its connection to those first farmers, though. This year’s theme, “Reap What You Sow, Eat What You Grow,” focuses on values, "being good, honest, caring people, especially during difficult socioeconomic times, and preserving a lifestyle that is prominent in many counties of Western North Carolina,” president Janice Moses wrote in this year’s fair program.
The T.H. Broyhill Walking Park in Lenoir transformed Saturday into a massive outdoor sculpture gallery as the 28th annual Sculpture Celebration featured 55 sculptors displaying their work around the sidewalks, streams and pond.
Just inside the front door of JoAnn Nichols' home sits a gray recliner, a half-finished quilt furled at its feet. A large, surgical-looking lamp reaches above the chair from an end table, and a bag of needles and thread sits beside it.
This is the chair where Nichols quilts. Mostly. She has a sewing room with machines, fabrics and all the works, but the chair, beside an identical one where husband, Lloyd, sits, is where most of the work on her quilts is done, some of them taking up to two years to complete.
The T.H. Broyhill Walking Park will be abuzz Saturday with artists registering and setting up for the Sculpture Celebration, which opens to the public at 9 a.m. The event is free. The judge's walking tour of the winners starts at 3:30 p.m.
Following a community dance on Friday and a slate of competitions on Saturday, the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention will present a lineup of nine bluegrass acts on Sunday. Here's a little bit about three of them, the South Carolina Broadcasters, The Edwards Family, and the David Wiseman Band, in a question-and-answer format. Learn about more in the Friday and Saturday editions.
Before Caron Baker Wike was a full-time potter, she made pottery as a hobby. Before that, it was an interest. Even before that, she played in the mud.
“It was just a natural thing,” she said. At a year old, she was tagging along with her grandmother to sculpture class.
Today, Baker Wike spends her time at her studio in the old Lenoir High School creating, teaching and firing up kilns in what used to be the boys locker rooms, looking down on the old football field.
Promises of Hope, a Granite Falls Charity, does a range of things for needy kids, from giving them a place to shower, something to eat, shoes that fit, tutoring, and even professional counseling, giving hope to area children experienceing tough times.
Shortly before 1 p.m., the couples who had signed up for the Caldwell County Register of Deeds’ Valentine’s Day Wedding Extravaganzastarted showing up: 13 of them by the end of the afternoon, down one from last year’s total. The attire ranged from casual to semiformal, ripped jeans to wedding dresses, and held everything from 2-year-old children to Unity candles as they walked into the room.
Each had a story.
While most of Caldwell County was inside on Jan. 31, staying out of the rain, Jeff Welch of Lenoir was outside slogging through mud and ice on his bike in Louisville, Ky. Welch, the co-owner of Luna Cycles downtown, was a contestant in the 2013 UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championships.
According to the website costofwedding.com, the average ceremony in Caldwell County costs about $21,000. Couples who can’t spend that much, or simply don’t want to, can tie the knot Feb. 14 for a grand total of $80. The marriage license, required no matter where couples choose to marry, costs $60, and $20 goes to the magistrate performing the ceremony. That $80 also includes traditional perks such as decorations, food, flowers, music and wedding photographs provided by volunteers and donors, while local businesses provide gifts for the happy couple.