On the evening of September 7, 2023, more than 200 attendees gathered at the enchanting Perry Car Barn in Blowing Rock, donned in their finest denim attire. They were there to revel in the festivities of the sixth annual Denim Ball, an event that left no denim thread uncelebrated. Beyond the fashion spectacle, this sold-out soirée achieved something truly remarkable: it raised nearly $200,000 to support ongoing enhancements at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, courtesy of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
Jordan Calaway, the Chief Development Officer for the Foundation, beamed with gratitude as he expressed, “We are profoundly appreciative of the splendid venue, the benevolent sponsors, and the charming assembly of patrons who rally behind this iconic and beloved sanctuary.”
This gathering wasn't merely a social event; it was a testament to the profound commitment to preserving and elevating the former country estate of Moses and Bertha Cone, a place of immense historical significance listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The evening commenced with a warm welcome from Bob Stout, the chair of the nonprofit’s board of trustees, who set the tone for the night. The event's host, Chip Perry, shared an enthralling glimpse into his extensive vintage car collection, which boasts immaculate specimens of Porsches, Volkswagens, MGs, and more.
The melodious tunes of the Matt Kendrick Trio wafted through the mezzanine, creating a delightful ambiance that complemented the mingling of guests. Delectable fare from The Best Cellar restaurant added to the culinary delight of the evening.
Tracy Brown, representing the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, addressed the crowd and underscored the town’s unwavering support for both the event and the estate. Carolyn Ward, the Foundation's CEO, and Neal Labrie, the Parkway’s Acting Assistant Superintendent, expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the generous attendees.
Ward remarked, “We extend our sincere gratitude to all of you for gracing us with your presence tonight, as together, we work towards securing an everlasting future for the Cone estate.” She then took the reins for the lively auction that followed.
During the auction, guests eagerly vied for exclusive experiences, including a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hendrick Motorsports Heritage Center, a guided fly-fishing expedition led by author Sam R. Johnson, CMA Fest tickets furnished by the Country Music Association, a coastal retreat in Atlantic Beach, N.C. offered by Leslie Eason, and a private cocktail soirée.
In a remarkable show of generosity, an anonymous benefactor pledged to match gifts up to a total of $55,000, inspiring donors to open their hearts and wallets in support of the Cone estate.
The funds raised from this event, including both donations and ticket sales, will be channeled into vital projects within the 3,500-acre park. These initiatives include the construction of an ADA-compliant ramp at Bass Lake, aimed at expanding accessibility to a beloved loop trail.
The Denim Ball received exclusive sponsorship from the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, and its success was made possible by the unwavering support of The Rosemyr Corporation, Mast General Store, Modern Automotive of Boone, Forever Mountain LLC, Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Foundation, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Blowing Rock Brewing, Booneshine Brewing Co., Pepsi, and Sunset & Vine.
The Denim Ball planning committee, comprised of dedicated individuals including Cathy Barker, Ken Carpenter, Marilyn Green, Billie Brandon Howell, Jonathan Lehman, Deatra Sellers, Bob and Janet Stout, Genie and Jerry Starnes, Rita White, and Joyce Zellner, played a pivotal role in orchestrating the event's triumph.
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park stands as a testament to the vision of Moses Cone, an industrial titan of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who, along with his brother Ceasar Cone, brought denim manufacturing to the South.
Moses Cone's legacy extends far beyond industry; he was a curious farmer who experimented with agriculture and crafted one of America’s most enchanting country estates. Beginning in 1897, he meticulously sculpted a stunning retreat, replete with carriage trails, serene lakes, bountiful orchards, sprawling fields, and pristine forests.
Although his life was tragically cut short in 1908, Moses Cone's legacy endured. His wife, Bertha, diligently maintained the estate for four decades, staying true to his original vision. In 1949, this sprawling 3,500-acre haven became a part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, preserving its timeless allure for generations to come.