Should you be staying in one of our cabins for rent in Banner Elk during the middle of October, you have hit the jackpot! Not only are the trees turning bright oranges, deep reds and vibrant yellows, but there are multiple festivals occurring! One of them is the famous annual Woolly Worm Festival, where races take place with the cute furry creatures, amazing food tents, and incredible local craft booths are set up!
For the last 37 years on the third weekend in October, thousands of people have gathered for this fun, family friendly event. The incredibly popular Woolly Worm races take place in stages. First you must find a worm to race. Many locals and visitors alike have taken to searching for worms weeks in advance to find the perfect one to race. If you’re new to this or don’t have the time for such endeavors, many people sell worms at the festival for people to race. Once you have your racer registered and named, you will be given a heat and a string to have your worm race up. Should your critter be fast enough and focused enough to reach the top before the others, you will receive a blue ribbon, a cash prize, and you advance into the next round! In the semi-finals, if you win again, you receive a larger cash prize, a blue ribbon and the chance to participate in the $1000 final race! Now if your worm is fast enough to win all of the races, you get the bounty and your woolly worm becomes famous! It’s a local tradition that the winning woolly worm predicts how the winter will be in western North Carolina. The black and brown patterns, number of bands of each color, as well as the deepness of the colors is used to come up with a fairly accurate prediction of the wintery weather to come.
After the races, if you wander around the many different tents and booths, you are sure to be amazed by all of the beautiful crafts, many handmade, as well as the abundance of delicious food that fills the festival grounds. There is also an area for children to play on the playground near the eating and concert area, where many times there are local bands playing. There is so much to do and see at the Woolly Worm Festival, and it is sure to be a fun time for you and your family!
The Woolly Worm Festival is always a great (but busy) weekend to visit the mountains so we recommend booking reservations early!