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April symposium celebrates Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th anniversary

Parkway75_t.jpgBOONE—Landscape historian Ethan Carr will be the keynote speaker at an April symposium at Appalachian State University celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The symposium, “Imagining the Blue Ridge Parkway for the 21st Century: History, Scenery, Conservation and Community,” will be held April 22-24 in Appalachian’s Plemmons Student Union.

Carr is an associate professor in the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. He specializes in public landscapes in the United States. Carr worked for New York City’s Central Park Conservancy and as a New York City park historian before becoming a National Park Service historical landscape architect.

He is the author of “Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture and the National Park Service” and “Mission 66: Modernism and the National Park Dilemma.”

Carr’s talk “Parks, Cars and Landscape Architecture: The Blue Ridge Parkway and American Design” will be presented April 23 as part of a dinner and address from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The well-known Celtic music group The Forget-me-Nots will perform as well.

Cost to attend all conference events is $130. One-day registration for Friday or Saturday events is available for $75. Registration for students with a university ID is $35 for the entire conference. The deadline for registration is April 9. Conference details and a link to online registration are available at

“While the conference will deal with academic topics, the programs presented should appeal to anyone interested in the Blue Ridge Parkway, its history and its future,” said Dr. Neva J. Specht, chair of Appalachian’s Blue Ridge Parkway symposium committee, and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Activities Thursday, April 22, include registration at 5 p.m., a reception at 5:30 p.m. and a Blue Ridge documentary film preview at 7:30 p.m.

Activities and presentations Friday, April 23, include a film festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the talk “What Does Diversity Mean for the Blue Ridge Parkway?” at 8:30 a.m., and concurrent sessions on “Parkway Management in the 21st Century,” “The Parkway’s Missing Voice” and a tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway led by landscape architect Ian Firth (pre-registration required) from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Gene Conti, N.C. Secretary of Transportation, will offer brief remarks about the parkway beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Activities from 2:15-4:30 p.m. Friday include concurrent session of “Parks and Partnerships,” “What is a Healthy Park?” and “Back to the Future: Parkway Design in Historical Context.”

The talk “Driving into the Past: Technology and the Parkway” will begin at 5:15 p.m.

On Saturday, April 24, a film festival runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Also, concurrent sessions on “Traditional Music,” “Recreating along the Parkway,” “Telling Stories” and “Gateways to the Park” will run from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sessions on “Traditional Music,” “Hazards and Views” and “Models in Practice” will run from 10:45 a.m. to noon.

U.S. Rep. David Price will speak during a 12:30 p.m. luncheon. Price was named a “Champion of Science” by the Science Coalition in 2002, and the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club has recognized Price as their “Legislator of the Year” in 1992.

The conference concludes with “The Parkway at 100: Looking Forward with an Eye to the Past” from 1:45 to 3 p.m.

During the conference, a 1930s camping site will be set up on Sanford Mall. Displays by nonprofit organizations, including book publishers, will be available throughout Plemmons Student Union.

The conference is sponsored by Appalachian State University, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, and Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Inc.

Virginia Tech will host a second symposium on the parkway focused on “Sustaining Communities, Environments and Economics Oct. 14-16. That conference will be held at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center in Roanoke, Va.