Barnardsville – This year has burdened many businesses. Barnardsville resident Eddie Harwood is no stranger to the impact that COVID-19 has had on his business. When he opened the Barn at Paint Fork as a music venue, he experienced much success. Last year, he had eighteen concerts, and things were moving along nicely.
Then 2020 and COVID-19 hit. This year he’s had only one event, but to him, that event was an important one. See, Harwood has a big heart, and he is always looking to help those in need. Just ask the folks at Barnardsville Elementary School, recent recipient of Harwood’s generosity.
Harwood himself has seen hard times. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer, and although he beat it, he says, offhandedly, it also “occasionally comes back.”
He credits the Barn at Paint Fork with saving his life and giving him a purpose, as he is about to raise money for those in need with the event center. This year has been frustrating for him, unable to hold events to raise funds for his charities. Then one night, he received a text.
Harwood said one of his workers texted him very early in the morning—like 2 am early. Harwood actually was on his porch, he said, when his worker asked if he could get Harwood to send him an advance electronically via a money transfer app like Paypal or Venmo. Harwood sent the advance and had an idea. Why couldn’t he do that to raise money for needy kids for Christmas or necessities and food.
Harwood, who says he has about 3,000 friends on Facebook, posted that he would be on live the following night with “big news.” After his live broadcast, he had raised $5,000, and he continued to raise money over the 13 weeks, culminating in one event, BarntoberFest, which ended weeks of work and helped Eddie raise over $36,750 for his charity.
Thursday, November 12, Harwood held an event at the Barn to distribute the money to seven counties and the Asheville City Schools. He used county sheriffs and school systems to distribute the money with the help of Ingles Markets, who provided gift cards to be used by recipients. Officials from Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Yancey, Henderson, McDowell, Mitchell, and Asheville City Schools were there to accept Harwood’s gifts.
“We are distributing the funds we raise from BarntoberFest for the backpack program that the schools have where they send food home for these kids that have a need,” Harwood told The Tribune. “This year, the needs are more than what they had last year with this COVID stuff going on.” Last year Harwood said he raised about $23,000 for charity.
He had a small ceremony hosted by KISS Country’s Eddie Foxx featuring large ceremonial checks and the Ingles gift cards. Afterward, attendees were treated to food from the Wagon Wheel in Mars Hill.
Harwood thanked everyone involved in making the fundraiser a success and added that it will be even bigger next year.