Conscious Party: Rebuild and Repair Chimney Rock Village

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: The Gathering Place outdoor amphitheater at Chimney Rock Village suffered severe damage from flooding due to Subtropical Storm Alberto. Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery will hold a fundraiser July 6-8 to aid efforts to clean up and rebuild the structure, as well as bridges and sections of trail that were destroyed. Photo by Landdis Hollifield

WHAT: A fundraiser to benefit the Chimney Rock Village Community Development Association

WHEN: Friday, July 6-Sunday, July 8

WHERE: Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery, 461 Main St., Chimney Rock

WHY: Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park annual passholders were planning on spending the first Saturday of June at the Views and Brews event, enjoying sunset views, gourmet appetizers and the release of Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery’s Higher Ground Huckleberry American Wheat. Then Subtropical Storm Alberto swept through the area, causing floods, mudslides, closing roads and businesses and knocking out neighbors’ power.

“I was left with the feeling and the need to come together as a village, the feeling of appreciation of what we have and the motivation to be better,” says brewery co-owner Merri Fretwell. “The gorge is a bit of heaven that people cannot help but to foster and love.”

Instead of saving Higher Ground for another occasion, Fretwell and Views and Brews co-organizer Landdis Hollifield, events and promotions manager for Chimney Rock Management, decided to debut it as part of a weekendlong fundraiser at the brewery for the Chimney Rock Village Community Development Association. The nonprofit organization promotes economic revitalization in Chimney Rock Village and is helping with storm cleanup.

“Funds from this event will be used to rebuild bridges and sections of trail washed out or destroyed by the recent flooding event,” says Chimney Rock Village Mayor Peter O’Leary. “Trails and bridgeheads will also be fortified in a way to mitigate future flood damage. We will also be using funds to clean up and rebuild our Gathering Place outdoor amphitheater.”

The fundraiser begins Friday, July 6, at 5 p.m. with live music from Americana singer-songwriter Jeff Gregory and concludes Sunday, July 8, with a performance by Appalachian roots band Chicken Coup Willaye. Local business owners have donated a range of items for a silent auction that runs through Saturday, July 7, at 5 p.m.

In addition, a cash/check locked donation box will be located at the brewery, Diamond Brand Outdoors will donate 10 percent of its proceeds from all three stores on Wednesday, July 11, to the CDA for cleanup efforts, and at least $1 of every pint sold of Higher Ground over the weekend will be donated to the village. The beer was inspired by the memorable views of the gorge that may only be seen from atop Chimney Rock. According to Hickory Nut Gorge brewer Matt Karg, regionally sourced huckleberries give the brew a light yellowish-purple color similar to those seen at dusk.

“The fundraiser is not just a way of raising money for the village, but an avenue for us to dust our knees off and go forward,” Fretwell says. “Ultimately, our goal is to regain the sense of family, friendship and nature which people celebrate in gathering at the Riverwalk and Gathering Place. One might say those places as well as the Park are the core of what makes the village come together.”

The weekendlong fundraiser to rebuild and repair Chimney Rock Village takes place Friday, July 6-Sunday, July 8 at Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery. Free to attend.

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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