August 2010 Volunteer Spotlight – Susan Hazlewood
Susan Hazlewood is a very busy person, but she takes time out every year in April to come down the mountain from her home in Blowing Rock, North Carolina to volunteer at MerleFest. Susan is a sourcing specialist for a healthcare/rehab company and, when not working, has many and varied interests. She enjoys horseback riding, hiking, music, kayaking, snowshoeing, dancing, reading, cooking, and volunteering. Some of her volunteer experiences include working with the Appalachian State University Summer and Performing Arts Series and several other music festivals. She also helps build hiking trails at Elk Knob State Park and serves on the board of the Elk Knob Community Heritage Organization.
Susan grew up with parents who shared the love of music they developed early in life. In the mountains of Virginia, her father's family met at homes on Friday nights to play instruments, sing, and dance. Susan learned about mountain music and how to flatfoot from him. Now she comes to MerleFest to continue to learn about and enjoy that music that is so deeply ingrained in her soul.
At the festival she especially enjoys the Waybacks' Hillside show where a variety of entertainers join them to perform songs from a rock album. Her favorite part of volunteering is working with the Bumgarner brothers on Sundays at Nancy' Gate. "All the entertainers make a special effort to come up and say hello to them. It's my favorite thing to do."
One of her favorite MerleFest moments happened during an Emmy Lou Harris set at the Watson Stage. There she saw two friends she had met while hiking on the Appalachian Trail. "They'd never heard of MerleFest, but had gotten to Erwin, Tennessee and were told about it. So they took a break from hiking, rented a car, and came to the festival. We were thrilled to see each other and had a great afternoon. You never know who you'll run into at MerleFest."
Mountain girl that Susan Hazlewood is, she finds it important to give back to others by volunteering her time at MerleFest and in so doing supporting the students of Wilkes Community College. "Having lived in the mountains on and off since 1971, I've seen the tremendous changes that have affected the area all the way to the foothills. Education is more important than ever in this competitive environment. WCC is able to provide opportunities for students in our area. So I'm glad that I can give my time to an event that helps support the students of Wilkes Community College."