Year in Review 2023: October, November and December
Published 11:12 am Friday, January 5, 2024
Editor’s Note: Over the last few issues, we have published our annual look back at some of the top stories, newsmakers and images that shaped the previous year. Following are several of the top stories published in the Bulletin in the final three months of 2023.
The Tryon International Film Festival returned for its ninth year, showcasing filmmakers from nine different countries and featuring a total of 67 films. The festival, held over three days, had excellent turnouts for its gala, film showings and education panels. The festival presented awards for films in numerous categories.
Landrum City Council announced the renaming of the Landrum Farmers Market building as the Joe Cunningham, Jr. Market Pavilion. Cunningham was one of the founders of the Landrum Farmers Market and his dream was to construct a permanent building to accommodate the vendors at the market.
On October 14, Tryon Elementary School held a celebration that honored the building and the generations of students, staff and faculty that have passed through its halls over the last century. The school first opened its doors in October of 1923.
The well-attended event featured live music, a spaghetti lunch, a book giveaway and several fun photo opportunities. Visitors were also allowed to tour the classrooms and enjoy displays of trivia, yearbooks and old pictures.
The 12th annual Gran Fondo Hincapie, a bicycle ride covering over 80 miles that begins in Greenville County, made its way through the area on October 21, bringing over 2,000 cyclists to Polk County. The race is named after George Hincapie and covers the same routes the well-known cyclist used while training for the Tour de France.
Work was completed on the historic Polk County Courthouse. Repairs were made to the front gable of the building, which faces the Womack Building in Columbus.
The project included removing old siding from the building and replacing it with wood to match the building. The new material was then painted to match the building. The cost of this project was $23,850.
Polk County earned the first state volleyball championship in school history with a dominant win on November 4, defeating a Falls Lake program that had won the first title match between the two schools five years earlier.
“This has been a goal of ours for years,” said head coach Molly Hill, whose team finished 28-3. “We knew that this was going to be a good potential year for us, and the way that we have played, especially in the postseason, we knew we could do this.”
Warm weather welcomed the 12th annual Tryon Beer Fest back to downtown. With dozens of breweries from the Carolinas represented, beer lovers from across the area enjoyed the live music, the atmosphere and, of course, the libations.
“I’m just proud to be a part of something that brings so much to downtown Tryon. We appreciate all the volunteers and sponsors that make this event possible,” said one of the event’s founders, Kim Nelson
Polk County Commissioner Paul Beiler and Sheriff Tim Wright worked with Foothills Community Chapel to provide free Thanksgiving meals to those less fortunate in Polk County for the fourth year.
“We try to do this every year, to get it together for needy families for the holiday season,” said Sheriff Wright. “Just a little token to give back to the community.”
On November 21, Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn held its annual National Gingerbread House Competition, where local 6-year-old Kaliana Riddlesworth of Columbus placed in the Top 10 in the 5 to 8-year-old age group. The competition had 200 entries from over 22 states, featuring contestants in adult, teen, youth and children categories, all competing for a chance to win more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.
Over 450 motorcyclists participated in the 21st annual Polk County Toy Run on November 25, an annual ride through the area that collects toys and donations for local underserved children during the holiday season. Sixty-two bags of toys and $22,500 were donated during this year’s event. Each participant donated a new toy or paid the entry fee, with proceeds going to Outreach Ministry, Steps to HOPE, Polk DSS and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
An 8-year-old boy from Columbus was selected to DJ four songs on the “Be Our Guest 4 the Day” radio show on Sirius XM’s Disney Hits Channel. Rory Raymer applied to the show in August and was chosen. Rory was asked to record a script, tell a few stories and pick four songs to be played on the show.
The Polk County Historical Museum held its fifth ‘Night at the Museum’ event, featuring reenactors playing essential figures throughout the county’s history.
Residents and students had the opportunity to experience the county’s history coming to life, with the reenactors making historical figures more accessible through the stories they told. The museum also features exhibits, maps, art and even the first cannonball fired at Fort Sumter that began the Civil War.
The Tryon Downtown Development Association coordinated the annual Tryon Christmas Stroll on December 1 to help kick off the holidays. A little drizzle didn’t dampen spirits as hundreds ventured downtown to enjoy visiting all the shops that stayed open late, getting to pose with Santa, listening to live music, enjoying an assortment of treats, and mingling with friends and visitors.
An early Christmas gift arrived at the Saluda Historic Depot, when volunteer John Pezzano and Jeff Hellstrom installed a telegraph station in the for visitors. There, visitors will have an opportunity to use a century-old original telegraph, learn a bit about Morse Code, some history of telegraphy and how to actually use a telegraph to send messages.
In 1837, Samuel Morse developed and patented a recording electrical telegraph. Morse and his assistant, Alfred Vail, developed the Morse Code signaling alphabet.
Hundreds lined up along N. Trade Ave. and Rutherford St. to celebrate the holidays at the Light Up Landrum Christmas Parade on Thursday evening. Over 140 parade entries, including local businesses, churches and organizations, lit up the night as revelers took photos and enjoyed the Christmas spirit.
The Polk County High School auditorium was filled with the sounds of holiday cheer as the Community Chorus celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, December 9.
The chorus performed its semi-centennial concert to support the Rotary Club of Tryon Scholarship Fund. Led by three former conductors – Dell Morgan, Lesley Bush and Richard Kennedy – and accompanied by pianist Pam McNeil, the chorus sang their hearts out for a good cause.
Earlier this month, Police Chief Randall Hodge resigned from the Tryon Police Department. Hodge’s last day was Friday, December 1.
Hodge joined the Tryon Police Department in 2017 and had served as chief since October of last year after former chief Jeff Arrowood retired. Captain Scott Holt has been appointed as interim police chief.
An attorney from Polk County has been appointed to serve as a district judge by Governor Roy Cooper.
Lora T. Baker of Saluda has been appointed to serve as District Court Judge in Judicial District 29B, replacing Judge Emily Cowan. After interviewing three attorneys, Governor Roy Cooper called Baker in November to say he had chosen her to finish out Cowan’s term. Judicial District 29B serves Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties.
Mountain Laurel Films, a studio based out of the Dark Corner area, has begun filming in the area for an upcoming feature film, capturing footage of the Tryon Christmas Parade on December 13.
The working title of the film is Christmas at the Mistletoe Inn.
There is also filming planned in downtown Tryon, Campbell’s Bridge in Landrum, Tryon International Equestrian Center and the Greenlife Inn.