Thanks in large part to the efforts of local tourism promoters, Wilkes County and Wilkesboro continue to find themselves in the spotlight of UNC-TV, the state’s public broadcasting network.

Last Thursday, a video piece on the Leatherwood Mountains Resort in Ferguson made its debut on “NC Weekend.” The resort, just off Elk Creek Darby Road, is a destination for horse lovers, with chic cabins, stately stables, miles of trails and more.

The roughly four-minute segment was produced and shot by John Litschke, who lives in Elkin and is responsible for numerous tourism videos filmed in Wilkes and the surrounding area. The early-morning imagery that Litschke captures at Leatherwood is some of his best work, in my opinion.

Litschke interviews Abbie Hanchey and Trevor Whitson, co-owners of the resort; resident Phil Rash; Billy Smith, resort guest from Durham; and Jaine Falco, the resort’s stable manager.

“It is not an absolute necessity to be a horse lover and come to Leatherwood, but for those of us who do have an affinity for horses, there’s nothing like Leatherwood Mountains,” said Hanchey during the segment.

Another Litschke piece, this one focusing on downtown Wilkesboro, will make its broadcast debut on Thursday. You can watch it early online, if so inclined, at

Receiving on-screen time in this three minute, 40 second segment are Linda Cheek, president of the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce; musician (and Wilkesboro native) Josh Day; Eddie Settle, chairman of the Wilkes County commissioners; town business owners Dale Isom, Seth Cohn and Janet Martinez; Thomas Salley, director of the Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority (TDA); and musician Jens Kruger.

The narrator of the video states that the area is known for many things, two of which are music and the festivals that celebrate music. MerleFest and Carolina in the Fall are not surprisingly cited as crown jewels in Wilkesboro’s commitment to the music economy.

Salley told me recently that Litschke is a staunch advocate for Wilkes County and the Wilkesboros. “He deserves all the credit” for the Wilkesboro piece, and “we are grateful that he has employed his talents to promote the county tirelessly.”

Speaking of a tireless promoter, Salley fits the bill himself. He said the most important aspect of tourism promotion is building relationships with content providers, “getting to know the person and what they like, what ‘sells,’ so to speak, and trying to cater your message and story to that.”

Salley added that once the proverbial foot is in the door, it takes a bit of good luck to get green-lighted for one of those four-minute UNC-TV productions. What works in our favor, he said, is the county’s wonderful resources that appeal to folks outside our community. “That makes my job easy,” he explains.

Wilkesboro also was the subject of an online article in “The Local Palate,” a website and magazine devoted to food culture of the South. “Heritage in the Foothills” was ghost written by Emily Storrow, a former reporter here at the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.

The Jan. 29 story touches on a wide variety of attractions, from the Wilkes Heritage Museum to Rolling Pines Disc Golf Course (which itself received a prominent plaudit last week – see page A1 for more details). In conclusion, it directs still-curious readers to

The TDA placed a half-page ad in the March issue of “The Local Palate,” one that emphasizes the town’s proximity to 50 area wineries. “The road to relaxation has a few corkscrew turns” is the tagline set against the beautiful backdrop of Piccione Vineyards in the Clingman community.

Thanks to the efforts of folks like Litschke and Salley, more tourists will visit and bring their disposable incomes to Wilkesboro and the county as a direct result of the continued exposure on UNC-TV, which reaches millions of potential viewers in the state.

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