What makes a community “livable?” Partners For Livable Communities, livable.org, defines livability this way, “The sum of the factors that add up to a community’s quality of life—including the built and natural environments, economic prosperity, social stability and equity, educational opportunity, and cultural, entertainment and recreation possibilities.”
As a Wilkes native, I’m sure I’m biased, but I think Wilkes is a very livable place in which to reside. We’ve got most of livable.org’s definition nailed, especially natural environments, educational opportunity, and cultural, entertainment and recreation possibilities.
As for recreation, Wilkes County’s Yadkin River Greenway and bike trails have become more and more popular. In recent weeks, my husband, Drew, and I have enjoyed biking on our different Greenway trails. The bridge along the Yadkin River, behind David’s Car Care in North Wilkesboro, has finally been completed, so it’s now possible to ride from the Reddies River trailhead (near CVS) all the way to Smoot Park. Adding the loop to the Wellness Center makes the ride about six miles round trip.
It’s a very scenic ride, as you travel next to the Reddies and Yadkin rivers and cross over three bridges. The portion between the Reddies River trailhead and the Wellness Center is especially popular.
In Wilkesboro, the Greenway extension along Moravian Creek has been completed, so you can now bike/walk/run from the Wilkes Family YMCA to Wilkes Community College, for over five miles round trip. We’ve seen interesting wildlife along our rides, especially squirrels and even two beavers on Moravian Creek.
The Greenway’s paved, mostly level surface makes the trail perfect for novice bike riders.
Our area has become renowned for its mountain biking trails. There are two at Cub Creek Park and several more along W. Kerr Scott Lake. People come from all over to ride on our trails.
And speaking of W. Kerr Scott Lake, what a wonderful natural environment is right here in our county! Recreation galore is available at the lake including fishing, boating, camping and hiking.
Nearby Stone Mountain State Park is another fantastic asset to our county. The many hiking trails, trout streams and camping facilities make the park a great place to visit.
Our family has spent many weekends camping and hiking at Stone Mountain. If you go in the late afternoon, visitors are sure to see deer and wild turkeys.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” is right in our backyard.
Entertainment and cultural events are plentiful in Wilkes County. The John A. Walker Center’s season shows bring a variety of talent to our area, from musicians, to musicals to art. Thursday night’s show featured performers Jimmy Fortune and Craig Campbell. Fortune formerly played with the Statler Brothers and Campbell is a contemporary country music singer.
The past month in Wilkes brought two festivals, Carolina in the Fall and the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, as well as music performances at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace in North Wilkesboro and the Carolina West Community Commons in Wilkesboro.
“Concerts on the Deck,” presented by Window World will conclude for 2019 on Saturday at the Marketplace, with a performance by beach music band, “The Band of Oz.” Last Saturday brought a near record number of people to downtown Wilkesboro to hear a Tom Petty tribute band and an Eagles tribute band, “On the Border.”
A list of Wilkes County’s assets wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Wilkes Community College (WCC). Since its beginning in 1965, WCC has helped students pursue rewarding careers and the opportunity to take college classes right at home.
With partnerships with Wilkes County Schools, students can begin college classes while still in high school. WCC keeps improving, as evidenced by the new Stone Culinary Center, which houses the culinary program.
Of course, things aren’t perfect in Wilkes County. We’ve lost many of our industries and we need opportunities for decent employment, but there’s a lot to love about “The Great State of Wilkes.”