Photo credit: Jeremiah Reed

The Perkins family was on hand Saturday to pick up the Business of the Year Award for D.D. Bullwinkel’s Outdoors.

-D.D. Bullwinkel’s Outdoors was named Business of the Year and Lucia Gerdes, owner of Cedar Mountain Canteen, was named Business Person of the Year during Saturday’s Bre-vard/Transylvania County Chamber of Commerce annual gala.

It was a grand evening to kick off the “Year of Fun” at Brevard College‘s Porter Center.

The affair brought together more than 100 members of the local business community to discuss past successes and eagerly embark on more to come. It was also a night to recognize some of the achievements in the business community and honor those who made those achievements possible. Incoming Cham-ber President Glenda McCarson offered some introductory remarks, quickly putting her stamp on the evening by bringing out an inflatable gavel and donning a red cape to officially usher in what she called the “Year of Fun.”

McCarson also recognized outgoing chamber president Tracie Trusler for her service to the chamber over the past year.

“Tracie has been an amazing president a champion of the chamber,” McCarson said.

In a brief speech, Trusler thanked the chamber for the opportunity to serve as its president and recognized all the members, staff and volunteers that make chamber successes possible.

“Looking back, I’m proud to have been involved with the chamber these past few years and have been honored to serve as president this past year. We are fortunate to have an inspirational group of more than 525 members who support the chamber and their community. Also, your board of directors are passionate about what they do, as well as being generously dedicated to their community,” Trusler said.

Following Trusler’s remarks, Clark Lovelace, chamber executive director, addressed the audience, offering recognition to the chamber’s volunteers and staff.

Lovelace also took time to recognize the chamber’s 50 sponsors in the community, saying that without their help and resources, the chamber wouldn’t be as successful in its mission of assisting the business community.

“As a nonprofit, the chamber couldn’t do much of what we do without the support of our sponsors. They are great community partners, they are our helpers, they are our funders, they are our supporters and we appreciate greatly everything that they do,” Lovelace said.

At the conclusion of the sponsor recognitions, it was the awards portion of the evening. The first award of the night was Business Person of the Year, presented by Prentiss Brewer, with the chamber.

The Business Person of the Year went to Lucia Gerdes, owner of Cedar Mountain Canteen.

Gerdes also serves as vice president of the Friends of DuPont State Forest Board of Directors and the Cedar Mountain Community Center Board. In her remarks, Brewer said Gerdes’ attitude exemplifies that of a successful small business owner and radiates to those around her.

“[Lucia] provides a shining example of how making a difference in the world is often best started by making a difference in your community. [She] is an outstanding business-woman, community leader, and giving neighbor who we are all honored to know,” Brewer said.

The next award was Business of the Year, presented by Candice Walsh, executive director of the Cindy Platt Boys & Girls Club.

Business of the Year went to D.D. Bullwinkel’s Outdoors.

In announcing the winner, Walsh cited the impact of the business on the vitality of downtown Brevard, but also recognized the business owners’ – Jimmy and Dee Dee Perkins – commitment to the community through participation in festivals and other initiatives.

“Beyond the impact of the business, the owners are among the most involved in Brevard and Transylvania,” Walsh said.

In speaking about D.D. Bullwinkel’s Outdoors space on East Main Street, Walsh lauded the transformation of the space, the historic reconstruction and the new business’ brand launch, adding that, “This impressive new facility is much more than retail space. It has become its own destination.”

The next award was Nonprofit of the Year and was presented by Page LemelTransylvania County Commissioner.

The NonProfit of the Year award went to Smart Start of Transylvania County.

“The nonprofit organ-izations in Transylvania County do tireless, unforgiving, and important work. [Smart Start] has been doing just that as a champion for young children in Transylvania County for 23 years,” Lemel said.

Lemel said over the past two years, thanks to the work of Smart Start, the high quality four-year-old preschool program for income qualified families has increased the number of available spaces for children by 300 percent.

During that period, they have also increased their operational revenue by 62 percent.

She also recognized Smart Start’s new collaboration with the Sesame Street in Communities initiative, which was announced last year.

“From efforts with other nonprofits like The Family Place to Transylvania businesses to local government to Transylvania County Schools, [Smart Start] are committed to their focus to ensure that young children enter school healthy and ready to succeed,” Lemel said.

After accepting the award, Deborah Tibbetts, Smart Start executive director, delivered some brief remarks, thanking all the people who work with Smart Start for their dedication and looking optimistically at the future to provide even more care for the county’s youth.

“I really just want to thank the staff, the board and all the volunteers with our organization, as well as our community partners. And you haven’t seen anything yet. We’re just beginning and I hope that the whole community joins us in this journey to advance the lives of our younger citizens,” she said.

The next award was the Esther Wesley Award, which is given annually to an individual for his years of service and support to the chamber.

Trusler presented the award to Dean St. Marie. St. Marie formerly served as chamber president in 2017, but has been involved with the chamber for many years, including two full terms and one partial term on the board of directors.

“[Dean] has served on numerous committees, specifically making significant contributions to the chamber’s ‘buy local’ initiative from a few years ago and the more recent push to strengthen our governmental affairs efforts,” Trusler said.

Trusler also cited St. Marie’s involvement in the community outside of the business arena, specifically his involvement with organizations such as Friends of the Ecusta Trail and the Pisgah Forest Rotary.

“Since coming to the area as a transplant, [Dean] has been a fixture in the local business community, with their love and pride for Brevard and Transylvania shining in every possible way,” she said.

The final award of the evening was the Duke Power Citizenship Award, presented by Craig DeBrew, district manager for Duke Energy. The Duke Citizenship Award went to Mark Burrows.

In announcing the award, DeBrew said, “Throughout [Mark’s] 30-plus years in public service he was a leader, ambassador, participant, influencer, representative and more with so many important initiatives and projects. His impact was felt by so many.”

Among the many projects and organizations Burrows was involved with over the years were the Heart of BrevardBrevard College, TC Arts Council, BrevardRotary Club, Project Empathy and the Land of Sky Regional Council.

DeBrew added that Burrows’ passion and selfless service to so many in the community was what set him apart and made him a clear choice as the award recipient.

“In this person’s numerous nominations for this award, coworkers, friends and colleagues noted that they are dedicated, devoted and passionate about improving lives in TransylvaniaCounty,” he said.

Written by Jeremiah Reed

Staff Writer for The Transylvania Times

It's no secret that the mountains of Western North Carolina have a wide array of wonderful places to live and play. With vibrant mountain towns like Boone, Brevard, and Asheville, as well as well-preserved national forests and serpentine scenic highways, it's easy to see why so many people choose to visit this area (we're talking to you Floridians). If you're going on vacation this holiday season, make sure the Pisgah is on the top of your list. And while you're there, use this weekend guide for a night of camping and a day of hiking and trail running.

Friday Night (4:30pm – 7:00am): Davidson Campground

Car camping at Davidson Campground
Car camping at Davidson Campground

Jake Wheeler

Open year-around with over 160 campsites for tents and cars, the Davidson River Campground is a great place to make a home base for your weekend in the Pisgah. Nestled just inside the Pisgah National Forest, and only three miles from Brevard , the campground is at the foot of the Art Loeb Trail and just minutes from other well-known destinations like John Rock and Looking Glass Rock.

And with Brevard being so nearby, you have the ability to grab any last minute supplies you may need before entering the park for the weekend. Even better, the Pisgah Ranger Station is conveniently located across the street to help with any last minute adventure questions before you start your day. We suggest finding a campsite that sits along the Davidson River, offering you quick access to a trail that runs along the river—great for a moonlight hike.

Saturday Morning Hike (7:30am – 11:30am): John Rock Loop

John Rock Loop
John Rock Loop

Jake Wheeler

Only a few miles from the Davidson Campground, start your day off by experiencing the stunning views of Pisgah's gorgeous wilderness and mountains. Primitive tent camping is allowed here as well, so if you want to set up camp at the foot of John Rock, you may.

With over 1,000-feet of elevation gain, this 5.5 mile hike will get your blood pumping and your heart thumping. You will find yourself quickly shedding layers, as you walk through tunnels of rhododendron forests with the rising sun guiding you playfully along the trail. Once you get the top of John Rock, you are greeted with a huge rock slab that offers breathtaking views of the outstretching valley below, the Pisgah Ridge, and across the way to Looking Glass Rock.

Enjoy a light snack at the top, a quick drink of water, and prepare for a brisk walk down to the trailhead for your next stop… lunch!

Lunch (12:00pm – 1:00pm): Looking Glass Falls

Only a short three minute drive from the John Rock Loop Trailhead, enjoy a mountain meal with the accompanying sounds of the roaring 60-foot Looking Glass Falls. Pack your picnic basket and head just a few hundred yards from the parking lot and witness one of North Carolina's most pristine and powerful waterfalls. Steps lead down to the base of the falls, making it easy to carry any lunchtime supplies and offering you a perspective that will truly humble you. Scramble around the rocks, watch out for ice in the winter seasons, and find a scenic spot to fuel up for your next adventure . . . Looking Glass Rock!

Saturday Afternoon Hike (1:30pm – 4:30pm): Looking Glass Rock

Looking Glass Rock
Looking Glass Rock

Jake Wheeler

Fill up your hydration pack and throw some nutrition in your pocket—you'll need it. The trail to Looking Glass Rock is steep—climbing 1,700-feet in just over three miles and taking hikers and runners along a cascading mountain stream and through granite rock outcroppings and root gardens, which only add to the challenge. But after you weave through these hairpin switchback turns, and along trails coated with blankets of fall leaves, you'll be rewarded with one of the most majestic views on the East Coast. The views are simply stunning! Definitely worth the physical expenditure.

The Pisgah National Forest offers great outdoor recreation possibilities for all ages and abilities. This is a great weekend trip for anyone looking to escape to the mountains. We recommend grabbing all your food needs in the town of Brevard before you escape. Whether it is your first time pitching a tent, or you're a seasoned trail running vet, the Pisgah is a true slice of weekend adventure heaven.

Written by Jake Wheeler for RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Jake Wheeler

It’s 10 p.m., and the already quiet Davidson River Campground has been completely muted by the steady whoosh of rain pelting our tent. Through some on-the-fly engineering, we’ve avoided the potential doom of a couple minor leaks. Settling into a movie in our cozy monoplex (with the help of a laptop), we’re drying out from a day spent exploring the waterlogged trails of the Pisgah National Forest and warming our insides with a flask of bourbon.

Sure, bluebird days make for idyllic lunch spots, and a sun-soaked afternoon landscape is the stuff of photographer’s dreams. But exploring this area of North Carolina’s second largest National Forest in the rain has its own charms. Here are 4 reasons why your long-awaited visit to Pisgah doesn’t have to be a complete washout when wet weather is in the forecast.

1. Experience the Forest Shrouded in Mist

Mossy logs, brilliantly green, stand in contrast to a gray day.
Mossy logs, brilliantly green, stand in contrast to a gray day.

Rob Glover

Like a heavy blanket, dense fog tamped down any movement, creating an eerie stillness in the forest. Mountain laurel seemed to edge closer to the trail while towering hardwoods, their tops barely visible through the mist, stood silent guard. Ancient Appalachia is full of secrets, and it’s never more mysterious than when clouds settle low among its peaks.

When visibility sits at around 4 feet, the million-dollar views from legendary destinations like Shining Rock don’t hold quite the same magnificence. But these days are tailor-made for a more intimate exploration of Pisgah’s heavily forested trails.

The easiest to access hike begins right from the campground. Look for the trail kiosk along the main campground road, and just next to it lies the North Slope trailhead. This 3.7-mile loop is, at times, a rugged mountain trail and, at others, a gentle walk along the Davidson River. About halfway around, the North Slope Connector links to the famous Art Loeb Trail. To create a 7-mile loop, walk out on the North Slope and return via the Art Loeb. This is a favorite for area trail runners.

There are 1,600 miles of trails in Pisgah’s half-million acres. You don’t have to go far to find a dozen excellent walks. For a variable-length loop that allows a choice of distances, head a few miles up 276 and park at the Pink Beds lot just past the Cradle of Forestry. Connect the flat and easy Pink Bed trail with the steep Burnett Branch for a real taste of backwoods hiking that’s never more than a few miles from a main road. The parking area has covered benches–a great place to towel-off before getting back in your car. (Note: You’ll have to walk a short distance along 276 to return to your car.)

For a chance to enjoy one of the most popular hikes in the park, sans crowds, talk a stroll through the ominously named Graveyard Fields. The burnt stubs of trees left behind by a devastating fire nearly 100 years ago gave this area its moniker. A wet, gray day puts the green valley in a contemplative mood.

2. Rain-Spiked Waterfalls are Unparalleled

Looking Glass Falls thunders under rain swollen skies.
Looking Glass Falls thunders under rain swollen skies.

Rob Glover

All the water that was collected at the top of Pisgah’s peaks during this shower make a mad dash to lower ground. This mass aquatic exodus creates waterfalls that don’t exist on dry days and turn gently flowing cascades into dramatic, thundering cataracts. Three beautiful examples lie just a few miles up the road from Davidson River Campground.

The broad, 60-foot plunge of Looking Glass Falls is probably the most popular waterfall in the park. The roadside attraction, available for closer inspection via a set of stairs to its base, holds a significant flow year-round. After a good storm, though, the pile-driving force of water can be heard for miles around.

Keep driving up 276 and you’ll soon see the entrance to Sliding Rock. There is a fee to park here during peak season but not in the winter. Those familiar with this 60-foot natural water slide will notice a decidedly different temperament after a significant storm as it morphs from Sliding Rock to “shove you violently down a river” rock. While it’s not safe to slide, it is an amazing transformation to view.

Between Looking Glass and Sliding Rock, the walk to Moore Cove Falls is one of the most pleasant in the park. Spring and summer wildflowers peak though a carpet of fern, all of it shaded by stands of yellow poplar. But that’s nothing compared to what waits at the end of the easy, .75-mile trail. Falling 50 feet over the edge of the broad but shallow cave, Moore Cove Falls completely envelopes the senses. Surrounded by forest in every direction, there is no better immersion into Pisgah than this spot. Trumped up by excess water, the normally gentle, wispy falls only become more dramatic in the rain.

3. You’ll Have Plenty of Space to Yourself

A cozy tent is made cozier by the melodic tapping of a rain shower.
A cozy tent is made cozier by the melodic tapping of a rain shower.

Rob Glover

Davidson River Campground is one of the best appointed government-run facilities of its kind in the area. And that’s no secret. It’s typical of fair-weather weekends to see every reservable site booked weeks in advance. The non-crowded bathrooms and extra quiet that follow a dodgy forecast may have you doing a rain dance.

Perhaps the greatest features in the campground, particularly during inclement weather, are the heated bathrooms. The warm showers are operated by timer button and require about 56 pushes to remove 3 pounds of muddy trail that’s stuck to your legs. But after a one-legged “don’t let my clean pants touch the shower floor” dance, slipping into a fresh set of clothes is a comfort beyond compare.

4. Brevard is Always an Option

Crank Coffee is the perfect place to ride out the storms that keep you from riding the trails.
Crank Coffee is the perfect place to ride out the storms that keep you from riding the trails.

Rob Glover

Lacking pretension and oozing southern mountain-town sensibility, Brevard, North Carolina, has avoided much of the over-done kitsch that sometimes permeates such a well-located tourist town. The restaurants, from gourmet to pub-grub, are cozy and inviting but rarely “fancy.” A 10-minute drive from the campground, Brevard is a quick escape.

Hot java and cool conversation are just down the road at Crank Coffee. Home to both fat tires and skinny lattes, the bike shop/coffee café is as laid back as you can get. Grab a soul-warming mocha and browse the selection of mountain and street bikes. With free Wi-Fi, hot soups, and tasty pastries it’s a great place to ride out the storm when you can’t ride on the trails.

Conversations at Brevard Brewing echo through their large, simply ornamented tasting room on Main Street. The beers aren’t wild or eccentric—you’re not likely to find a stout that tastes like pretzels or salted caramel anything on the menu. But each option is true to style and easy to sip. Best of all, you’re only a few steps from multiple dinner options.

You’ll often be greeted by Big Mike when you pop into his namesake eatery in downtown Brevard. Even on busy nights he’ll stop to chat up the guests and talk his favorite topic—pizza. The brightly lit restaurant serves pies from a stone oven. Crusts are hand-tossed, medium-thick New York style with a decent crunch on the edges. The beer selection isn’t huge, but the list of local and craft brews offers enough variety to please most anyone.

While the rain gushed outside, we decided to delay our return to the campsite with a stop in The Phoenix for a nightcap. Just next door to Big Mike’s, we didn’t even need to put our rain jackets on to get there. The farm-to-table gastropub is a fantastic choice for a meal, but the cozy couch with faux fireplace was also a fine location to warm up with a cocktail.

After a night’s steady deluge, we woke to find that our tent was now on the shores of the  newly formed Site 43 Lake. The morning sun dried out our gear while we hiked a quick loop. While we certainly missed the campfire, seeing the forest in a whole different light was a pretty good trade-off.

Written by Rob Glover for RootsRated in partnership with OrthoCarolina.

Featured image provided by Rob Glover