Woolly Worms have been used to forecast winter in the High Country for years. This folklore is exactly what gave Jim Morton (founder of the festival) the idea to bring the Woolly Worm festival to Banner Elk. The first year was freezing and windy and the festival only brought about 63 competitors. But 38 years later the festival is thriving with 140 vendors and over 1,000 woolly worm trainers; drawing 20,000 people or more each year, it has truly become a High Country tradition. For more information about the festival, visit: www.woollyworm.com.