ASHEVILLE — The dust is settling at Hickory Nut Gap Farm where hundreds of national park supporters joined Friends of the Smokies for the second annual Smokies Stomp Barn Party on Saturday evening. The event raised more than $84,000 to provide funding for a critical upgrade to Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s emergency radio communications system.
The event featured a gourmet farm-to-table dinner, silent auction, and a performance by the Bailey Mountain Cloggers. Live music for the festivities was provided by Asheville bluegrass group Buncombe Turnpike and the square dance was called by Rep. Joe Sam Queen (NC-119).
Fundraising for the evening’s highlighted project, an upgrade to the park’s communications system, was begun last year to celebrate Friends of the Smokies’ 25th anniversary. The project costs $2.5 million to repair or replace mobile radio units, emergency dispatch equipment, and radio repeater towers in and around the park. More than $1 million raised by Friends of the Smokies so far has been leveraged to match money from federal funding sources towards the total cost.
“We are thrilled to be so close to the finish line to help our park with this life-saving upgrade,” said Friends of the Smokies CEO and Executive Director Tim Chandler. “This campaign has been a huge undertaking but the difference this will make in the park’s ability to protect first responders and 11.4 million annual visitors is worth every penny.”
“I am so happy to see such a great turnout tonight to support America’s most-visited national park,” added Friends of the Smokies board member and Smokies Stomp emcee Meridith Powell. “Our friends and neighbors came out to celebrate our park and thanks to their generosity, we know this special place will be protected for generations to come.”
This event was made possible with generous support by Wandering Rose Travels, Webb Investment Services, Bank of America, Blue Ghost Brewing Company, Navitat Canopy Adventures, White Labs Kitchen & Tap, Allegra Printing, Beverly-Hanks & Associates, Biltmore Wines, DoubleTree Asheville-Biltmore, Dan & Deener Matthews, David Huff Creative, Dixon Hughes Goodman, Dominion Energy, First Citizens Wealth Management, Gaia Herbs, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, Insurance Service of Asheville, Jim & Jan Hart, Ken Wilson Ford, Mast General Store, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Roberts & Stevens, Saunders DDS, Premier Sotheby’s, Tim & Marilyn Wright and Wildland Trekking.