Two weeks before Old Fort’s gold festival, the town’s Board of Aldermen received an update on vendors and activities.

On Monday, David Blackwelder, organizer for the Official NC State Gold Festival, told aldermen 16 craft and miscellaneous vendors, eight food vendors and five different representations of demonstrators, including gold panning and sluicing, are lined up for the event on June 1.

Additionally, Blackwelder confirmed a display of the Bechtler Coins at Mountain Gateway Museum, which he claimed was “the country’s largest display of the coins.”

As far as sponsors, Blackwelder said only two organizations thus far – McDowell Chamber of Commerce and Sky Island Retreat – are signed to the festival.

“We could use more sponsorship,” said Blackwelder.” I’ve been door-to-door all over the county and people said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I will, great!’, but we haven’t gotten any response on this.”

Blackwelder also said that the festival was currently in need of donated, give-away prizes, dependent on whatever contributing businesses could offer.

Following Blackwelder’s update, Alderman Andrew Carlton said that t-shirts were going to be printed and sold at the gold festival – described as a dark navy blue with a gold Official NC Gold Festival logo – for $10 apiece, which could also serve as a give-away prize.

In addition, Mayor Rick Hensley promoted this year’s Rugged Nugget 5K run, which will offer a $5 registration fee (reduced from last year’s $15 fee), a free festival t-shirt for those who sign up and a different running course, starting from the Town Hall parking lot and up Commerce Street. The run will begin at 8 a.m., with a preferred 7:30 a.m. arrival time.

The Official N.C. State Gold Festival starts Saturday, June 1 at 10 a.m. at the Mountain Gateway Museum & Heritage Center. For more information, visit www.officialnorthcarolinagoldfestival.com.

In other business:

• In public comments, Hensley talked about the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, saying, “Please remember those who have sacrificed everything for the freedoms that we do enjoy. And also to remember those in past and present – if you see somebody who’s a service member or been a service member, just a simple ‘thank you.’ It means a lot when they put their life on the line for the freedom and rights that we cherish so deeply.”

• Also in public comments, Kirstie Conner of the Old Fort Community Forum spoke to promote next month’s forum meeting on June 20 at 5:30 p.m. This meeting, according to Conner, will have a cookout to serve as additional celebration for the forum’s one-year anniversary.

• Conner also promoted Mountain Gateway’s MGM Farmer’s Market, held every Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., with special thanks to the following sponsors: Silver Specialties, Greybeard Realty, Mountain Gateway Museum, TAG Contracting Inc., StockWild Kitchen and the Old Fort Chamber of Commerce.

• According to Hensley, Red Cross’ next scheduled blood drive in town will be on Tuesday, June 11 at the First Baptist Church of Old Fort from 12:30-5:30 p.m.

• A pamphlet on the town’s “dos and do-nots” for residential water and sewer concerns is available at Town Hall for those paying their water bill. According to the mayor, this is part of an effort to reduce Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) as well as proper disposal of household fats, oils and greases.

• Under old business, Old Fort’s Independence Day Parade, rodeo show will be held Thursday, July 4.

• Old Fort’s summer carnival will take place Aug. 6-10. According to Carlton, the next carnival committee meeting will be held Monday, June 3 at 6 p.m.

• Under new business, the board was presented with the official town budget for the 2019-20 year. Once reviewed, the board will approve of the budget during next months’ Alderman meeting.

• Carlton told the board about the Western North Carolina Rail Committee, which has requested municipalities adopt a resolution supporting their attempt to re-establish regular passenger bus and rail service. The board agreed to look over the resolution before adopting it in next month’s meeting.

The next Board of Aldermen meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 17 at 5:30 p.m.

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