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2021 Coolest Thing Made in Rutherford County Contest

January 14, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Rutherford County Economic Development is pleased to announce the winner, first runner up and second runner up of the second annual “Coolest Thing Made in Rutherford County” contest. The contest was held via virtual voting on Facebook, with nominations posted on December 1 and public votes were cast through December 31, 2021. The winners were determined by the number of “likes” each nominee received on the Facebook post showcasing their product. Thirty-three products made in Rutherford County were nominated for this contest and over 1,500 votes were cast.

The second runner up, with 109 votes, is a Hand Forged Knife, made by Night Owl Iron Works in Rutherfordton. If you are interested in learning a timeless craft, contact Night Owl Iron Works and experience one of their blacksmithing classes.

The first runner up, with 223 votes, is a Ballistic Shield made by BlueRidge Armor, of Spindale. Since 2015, BlueRidge Armor has manufactured world class bullet resistant armor, ballistic shields and protective equipment, right here in Rutherford County.  In 2018, the company won a contract to supply the United States Marshal Service (USMS) with the Patented VENGEANCE Series hard armor ballistic shield.

The winner of the “Coolest thing Made in Rutherford County” contest for 2021, with an impressive 289 votes, is a Handmade Rocking Horse, made by Brian Conner.  Brian is the owner of Brian Conner Construction, a locally-owned, fully licensed and insured construction company that has operated in Rutherford County for over 30 years.  While most days are spent with new builds, renovations, and additions, Brian still finds the time to create wooden masterpieces such as rocking horses, custom furniture and wood turned bowls.  Brian, who has lived here all his life, is married with two adult children and 4 grandchildren, who served as the inspiration behind the creation of this rocking horse. If you have a woodworking project that you would like to see brought to life, Brian has the specialized skills and passion to make it happen. 

Rutherford County Economic Development is proud of all of the amazing nominees that were submitted for this contest. We appreciate all of the community members who nominated products for the contest, and for the many people who voted for their favorite products. Through this contest, we hope citizens of Rutherford County had a unique opportunity to learn about products manufactured right here in the community, and to develop an appreciation for the businesses - large and small - who contribute to our economic landscape.