History, partnerships celebrated at a documentary event | Lifestyles

More than 120 people visited the Pulaski Theater on January 14 for the sold-out “Story of The New River Celebration” red carpet. The celebration, hosted by the Pulaski Theater and Pulaski County Tourism, commemorated Blue Ridge PBS’s “The Story of the New River” documentary, released last fall.

Prior to the screening, the red carpet party included a VIP experience with Appalachian-inspired appetizers created by local chef Serendipity Matthew Tolbert. Guests mingled and celebrated in the mezzanine.

“It was an incredible experience to work with Pulaski County Tourism and Laura Walters on this project, and an honor to host the documentary at the Pulaski Theater,” said Pulaski Theater President Jessica McKinney. “Every detail of this event has been meticulously planned to ensure its success and impression with all attendees. I want to express my gratitude to all the people and organizations that participated, and I look forward to working with everyone again on future events.

The Blue Ridge PBS documentary “The Story of the New River” originally began as a vision and dream of Pulaski County Board of Supervisors Laura Walters several years ago. Thanks to the skill and direction of Blue Ridge PBS executive producer Lisa Fenderson and sponsor Pulaski County, the story came to life. Blue Ridge PBS also partnered with the New River Conservancy for the production. The documentary tells the stories of the waterway and the people who line it and encourages viewers to protect the river.

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“‘The Story of the New River’ is a great movie, and I was thrilled with this event and the turnout,” Walters said.

Following the broadcast, an awards ceremony and panel discussion were held for viewers to ask local advocacy officers questions about the New River and the documentary. The panel discussion included New River Conservancy Director of Restoration, Chelsea Blount; John Copeland, Department of Wildlife Resources Fisheries Biologist; Cathay Hanks, NRV program coordinator for New River Conservancy and president of Friends of Peak Creek; Talmage Stanley, Professor of the Interdisciplinary Civic Innovation Program at Emory & Henry College; and Steve Rapp, president of the Friends of Claytor Lake.

The awards were presented by Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet and Bill Cunningham. Awards included “Best of History”, awarded to Talmage Stanley; “Best of Preservation”, awarded to Chelsea Blount; “Best of Biology”, attributed to John Copeland; “Best Documentary Film”, awarded to Lisa Fenderson; and “Best Sponsor”, awarded to the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors.

“It was an evening of historic enlightenment, productive networking and lots of fun, but most importantly, it was an exciting journey through time about the evolution of Pulaski County, the New River Valley and beyond,” Sweet said.

The evening ended with a special menu and adult drinks after-party at Pulaski’s newest cafe in town, Max on Main.

“I want to thank the Pulaski Theater, Board of Supervisors, our Tourism Department, the entire Blue Ridge PBS team, our panelists, Max on Main, and all of the wonderful people who were there to experience, understand, and celebrate the importance of the natural wonder we call the New River,” said Sweet.

– Submitted by Shelby Vandergriff

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