Woolly Worm


Race your caterpillar at the original Woolly Worm Festival

The groundhog Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow may determine a few additional weeks of winter, but that’s nothing compared to the woolly worms in the North Carolina High Country. For years, locals have used these small caterpillars to forecast the severity of the entire winter, and they say the woolly worms have been right 85 percent of the time. One of many great fall events in North Carolina is racing a woolly worm at the annual Woolly Worm Festival. Everyone is eligible to enter the race and thousands of visitors come to Banner Elk the third weekend in October take a chance at winning $1,000 and having the honor of their woolly worm being chosen as the official forecaster for the region. Participants catch their own woolly worm and race it up a string. The fastest woolly worm is named the official forecaster. Woolly worms have 13 segments to their bodies, which correspond with the traditional 13 weeks of winter. If the brown bands on the woolly worm are thin, it indicates a cold winter ahead, and if they’re wide, it means winter will be mild. The Woolly Worm Festival draws nearly 20,000 people and features 150 food and craft vendors. It’s one of several unique and unusual attractions in North Carolina.

Banner Elk, North Carolina

Banner Elk, NC

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