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Features

  •  INDEPENDENCE — The Oracle Institute has invited representatives from the Federation of Damanhur — a resilient agricultural community in northern Italy — to a local seminar to speak about their 30-year experiment with a model of sustainable spiritual living.

  • WOODLAWN — It's tempting to say that Gooch Harmon, who presides over his complex of clothing stores on U.S. 58 in Woodlawn, pulled himself up by his bootstraps, but the foundation of his commercial success stems from his decades selling cars.
    After all, Harmon still spends much of his time in the "Boot Capital of Virginia," where the store moves several thousand pairs a year.
    But his time as a car salesman preceded the launch of his retail boot business and other clothing outlets by about 15 years.

  • INDEPENDENCE — The annual Mountain Foliage Festival features events you can see nowhere else, like outhouses on wheels racing down the street, a Potty Princess “beauty” pageant and a toilet paper toss.
    The town's Grand Privy Race was recently named the state's official outhouse race by the Virginia General Assembly. Teams pull custom-built outhouses — or “privies” — in a race for the prized bedpan trophy.
    The event kicks off today, Friday, with a pie baking contest and the pageant tonight.

  • FANCY GAP — A couple has gone racing down memory lane with a tub full of recollections about grassroots tracks, cars, drivers and mechanics.
    Before NASCAR took over the racing world, many communities had homegrown speedways — dirt or paved — where driver revved up engines and mechanics tinkered on the cars just for the excitement.

  • The annual Lord's Acre Harvest Sale — where shoppers can stock up on all kinds of fresh, fall produce, canned goods, homemade pies and handmade crafts and attend worship service — will be held Saturday in Felts Park.
    The event is sponsored by Carroll-Grayson United Workers for Christ Association. The sale is a main fundraiser for many local churches.

  • HILLSVILLE — Locals brought their curiosities to the Carroll library for an appraisal by Antique Roadshow's Ken Farmer Aug. 31.
    The visit by the Radford auction house owner, also known as one of the experts from PBS's most popular television show, happened just as vendors began to set up for the Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show, when buyers  by the thousands flock to the town to shop for firearms, antiques and collectibles.

  • When Galax Police Sgt. Jim Spence retired from the department a couple of weeks ago to take a job in Afghanistan with a contracted canine service out of Florida, the hardest part was not only saying goodbye to his family, but turning over his four-legged companion of three years to Officer Jacob Vaughan.

  • This history is adapted from “Highways in Harmony: Designing and Building The Blue Ridge Parkway,” by Richard Quinn.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway is many things.
    It is the longest road planned as a single unit in the United States.
    It is an elongated park, protecting significant mountain landscapes far beyond the shoulders of the road itself.

  • HILLSVILLE — This weekend's 44th Annual Labor Day Flea Market & Gun Show will transform Hillsville from a quiet town of 3,000 to one of the largest retail venues in the Southeast.
    The number of vendors of new, used and collectible stuff nearly equals the number of town residents — and attracts an estimated crowd of around half a million shoppers.

  • ELK CREEK — Brieanne Hash flips down the amber visor on her black racing helmet, shielding her sparkling blue eyes as she inches toward the starting line at Elk Creek Dragway.

    Her helmet matches her race car, a sleek 1:2 scale replica of the Top Fuel dragsters that run better than 300 mph on quarter-mile tracks across the country. Her machine is polished black with red graphics that appropriately resemble the outline of a bullet.

  • HILLSVILLE — Snow and ice didn't keep two Carroll County medics from providing professional and caring assistance to a resident who had been stranded in the cold for hours last Feb. 13.
    At a county supervisors’ meeting July 12, emergency medical physician Daune Angell highly praised the attention and care demonstrated by Carroll Fire & Rescue personnel during poor weather in February.

  • "It's not rocket science. It's not saving lives. It's just barbecue," says Lonnie Smith of Bubba Grills, explaining why he has devoted his life to smoking pork and chasing trophies. "It's about food. It's about family."
    Smith shouldn't sell himself short. While the Haddock, Ga., team — this year's grand champion of the 6th Annual Smoke On The Mountain state barbecue cook-off in Galax, held this past weekend — looks at cooking as fun, there's some sweet science involved.

  • 2010 Smoke On The Mountain
    Virginia State BBQ Championship Winners

    Grand Champion — Bubba Grills, Haddock, Ga.
    (Because this team has already won a place in next year's event, runners-up Killer Hogs of Olive Branch, Miss., will represent Galax and the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 2011 Memphis Barbecue Network world championship.)

    Whole Hog
    • Killer Hogs — 1st
    • Bubba Grills — 2nd

  • The first day of summer on the Blue Ridge Parkway was warm, extraordinarily sunny and quiet. Maybe a little too quiet.
    "When does the travel season begin?" wondered Debra Anker, a parkway visitor from Fredericksburg, whose family had stopped at a visitors’ center on their way home from North Carolina.
    "It's very quiet today. I don't mind having the road to ourselves."

  • At seven years old, Galax native Kylene Barker set her sights on the crown after she saw her aunt crowned Miss Teen Roanoke.
    It was an image she couldn't forget, and would eventually become a reality for her.

  • HILLSVILLE — A Girl Scout working on her Gold Award recently launched a project to help victims of domestic violence at the Family Resource Center in Wytheville.

  • LAUREL FORK — Olde Mill has kicked its culinary offerings up a notch with Chef Ed Badgett heading up the kitchen.

    The golf course continues adding housing and an array of amenities as it transitions to a fully fledged resort community, and the vision for the place has captivated the chef.

    Not only does Badgett serve as chef and live onsite, he's taken the lead in blogging and tweeting about happenings and has even shown the new housing to clients. "I do as much as I can without sacrificing being in the kitchen."

  •  Watch for more graduation photos in Friday's edition of The Gazette on the Twin County Living page.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Few people in Grayson County remember when Sheriff Charles C. McKnight was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1933.

    There were no plaques that honored him, which concerned Sheriff Richard Vaughan.

    Several weeks ago, he started a project to remember the late sheriff and, after extensive research, a large bronze plaque bearing McKnight’s picture and the date he was killed now hangs in the front lobby of the Grayson County Courthouse.

  • HILLSVILLE — An investigation by a Carroll deputy has ensured that one of his fellow officers will be properly remembered for his service.

    The name of Carroll Deputy Emery Mabry had been carved into the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial in Washington, D.C., with a description that didn't accurately tell the story of how he died in the line of duty.

    The deputy stopped a suspicious vehicle, soon after his watch ended on April 22, 1974.