Fred McCormick's favorite photos of 2017

Fred McCormick
Downtown Black Mountain was filled with holiday cheer on Dec. 1 and 2 as the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce presented Holly Jolly and the Christmas parade.

Santa on parade

The holiday season in the Swannanoa Valley is a magical time of year. In a place where people are more likely to smile and wave than not, the arrival of Holly Jolly and the Christmas parade bring with them a special feeling of warmth that lasts through the end of the year.

The Montreat College Cavaliers defeated St. Andrews on Nov. 21 for their ninth straight win to start the 2017-18 season. Montreat junior Alonzo Mobley picked up his 1,000th career point in the game.

Alonzo Mobley's 1,000th point

It's not easy to get quality pictures of accomplishments on the court or playing field. In fact, the difference between capturing a moment in time and missing it entirely is often less than a second. But this photo captures Montreat College junior Alonzo Mobley as he shoots over a defender at home to record his 1,000th career point for the Cavaliers. The photo is also made special by the fact that Mobley's accomplishment came during the best first half of basketball ever played by the program.

Over 300 runners filed into the quarry at Grove Stone & Sand for the 10th annual Rock the Quarry Trail Challenge 5K and Kids Fun Run. The event, organized by Hedrick Industries, raises money for neighboring Black Mountain Home for Children and Asheville Museum of Science.

Rock the Quarry's 10th year

I've been covering Rock the Quarry for four years, and it's one of my favorite things to photograph. The panoramic vistas inside the quarry at Grove Stone & Sand provide an ideal backdrop for pictures of runners, many of whom are struck by the natural beauty themselves. But what makes the event truly special is its impact on the community. This year the 5K trail race celebrated its 10th year by having its most successful event to date, raising $65,000 for the Black Mountain Home for Children and the Asheville Museum of Science. 

Black Mountain resident Don Talley played FootGolf for the first time on July 31. He enjoyed it so much he returned the following day to play another round.

Getting on the good foot

I had never heard of FootGolf before well-known Swannanoa Valley resident Don Talley told me about it one morning in August. He said "let me know if you want to go check it out, we can go play a round." The next day Don and I were at Jack's Mountain Preserve in Old Fort playing a game that's quickly growing in popularity around the world. Here is a shot of Don warming up before we began. 

Tom Paxton shares some of the experiences and knowledge that have come from over 50 years of making music in his "What I Learned From Pete & Woody" class.

A sit-down with Tom Paxton

Sitting and talking to Tom Paxton in a quiet room on the campus of Warren Wilson College during the annual Swannanoa Gathering is something I'll never forget. The man is a folk music icon with a passion for telling stories through music that others can feel. I had a chance to ask the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner about why the annual folk arts workshop at Warren Wilson College was such an important event to him and to find out what Paxton learned from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, American folk music legends who are the inspiration for the class taught by Paxton during the Gathering. This photo was taken after our interview during Paxton's class. 

The emotion inside Warhorse Stadium was palpable on Saturday, June 10 as 168 students making up the Owen High School class of 2017 spent their final moments at the school entering the stage as seniors and exiting as graduates moving on to the next chapter in their lives.

Hats off to OHS grads

This photo represents the future of the Swannanoa Valley to me. I've been writing stories featuring students from Owen High School for four years. I have known or written about many of the students in this photo, taken during graduation in June, since they were freshmen. Two things always stand out to me about the young men and women I meet when covering events at Owen: 1) So many of them are intelligent and insightful with a wide variety of interests, and 2) they are some of the most polite kids I have ever met.

Around 200 runners participated in the 10th running of the Black Mountain Greenway Challenge 5K/10K on April 8. Both races began and ended at Pisgah Brewing Co. Money raised by the race goes to Black Mountain's greenway system.

Up to the Challenge

Every April the Black Mountain Greenway Commission and Pisgah Brewing Co. present the Black Mountain Greenway Challenge 5K and 10K. As a frequent user of the town's greenways I appreciate the event because it  supports the trails that keep us connected. But the Greenway Challenge also creates a buzz because it's held in the spring, meaning runners are excited to get out in the sun and finish up with a cold beer from one of Western North Carolina's best-known breweries. 

Junior Garrett Miller tees off on the 11th hole of the Black Mountain Golf Course on May 23. Miller finished 20th in the state as a sophomore.

Sweet-swinging Garrett Miller 

I love this picture. This is sweet-swinging Owen high School senior Garrett Miller teeing off on the 11th hole at the Black Mountain Golf Course. The dramatic shot shows a flawless follow-through by Miller as his ball sails toward the mountains in the distance.