Memories, Places, and People That Make Saluda NC an Enchanted Place to Be


In 1949, the Blue Ridge Coon Club (later the Blue Ridge Coon Dog Association) was organized for the purpose of replenishing the local racoon population, which had dwindled to almost nothing. The club was the brainchild of George Johnson, a native Saludan and brickmason.
By the late 1950s the club was holding a fundraising barbecue each year on the first Saturday after the 4th of July. Proceeds were used to restock the woods with ‘coons.
The popularity of the barbecues, and the success of the “Old Prospector” parade that had celebrated the opening of the Rock and Mineral Museum in 1962, convinced the club to try their own annual parade beginning in ’63.
Coon Dog Day was wildly successful, and the event has grown over the decades to now attract over 15,000 visitors. Music, dancing, arts, food, and even a 5k race are now part of Coon Dog Day, but the dogs still reign supreme!
The first Coon Dog Queen, Mary Margaret Blackwell (also known as “Dooder”) in 1963
…and Coon Dog Day founder George Johnson is celebrated as Coon Dog King decades after he had the original idea.

Some fine coon dogs await the judges' opinion in 1990.


1966 Coon Dog Day Parade




Charlie Ward was one of Saluda’s most-beloved citizens, public servants, and merchants. Each year he held a community-wide barbeque to thank his fellow Saludans for their patronage and for their friendship. (You can read more about Charlie on our Saluda People page.)

Although Charlie is gone, the tradition continues. At the 2011 barbeque, Charlie’s wife Judy and some of his friends sat down to remember the man who always had a smile and/or a hug for everyone he met: