Bluegrass and mountain music.
Children’s activities. Check.
Fine arts and crafts. Check.
Variety of food vendors. Check.
The Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day in Townsend has everything a person could possibly want in a fall festival and more.
“It’s really been a wonderful way to bring people into the area, and it’s really a great atmosphere for families,” said Jeanie Hilten, Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau special events coordinator.
Hilten said the festival is in its 16th year and is a chance for visitors to return to the roots of the mountain traditions with authentic activities. For instance, Hilten said music is and has always been important to people in the community. Throughout the festival, there will be performances by professional bluegrass musicians as well as opportunities for impromptu jam sessions on the porch and under the trees for the locals and visitors. More than 20 bluegrass bands will perform on the pavilion stage and side porches of the Visitors Center and an additional 200 musicians are expected to “jam” on the lawn, porch and anywhere there is a place to pick and strum.
In addition to music, the festival will also feature an antique tractor show by the Foothills Tractor Club. The Parade of Power allows visitors to see the workings of these antique engines.
“When you hear the antique engines, you really appreciate the wonderful sounds they make,” Hilten said.
Visitors also have opportunities to see how craftsmen throughout the history of the mountain area performed activities. Demonstrations during the festival include blacksmithing, wood carving, spinning and weaving, cornmeal making and apple butter making, to name a few.
Local author, humorist and storyteller Sam Venable is scheduled to sign copies of his books as is Cades Cove and wildlife photographer Bill Lea.
Children will enjoy seeing llamas from Liles Acres Organic farm and hear how their wool is spun into yarn. The Young Folks program will take place in the storytellers’ tent where kids will have a chance to play with clay, face-off in an old fashioned spelling bee, see railroad exhibits and take a short ride on a handcar. They can also hear tales by storytellers of schooldays gone by.
Visitors can enjoy food ranging from barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, beans and cornbread, fried bologna sandwiches, red beans and rice, bloomin’ onions and homemade ice cream.
The 16th Annual Townsend Heritage Festival and Old Timers Day takes place on the grounds of the Townsend Visitors Center located on 7906 East Lamar Alexander Parkway on Friday and Saturday and is free to the public. Times are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. both days. Parking on the grounds will be $5 and will benefit the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department.
Organizers extended thanks to Keep Blount Beautiful and Spectra Recycling, Inc., the Heart and Hands Scholarship Fund will receive proceeds from the plastic and aluminum recycling bins.
The proceeds from the cakewalk scheduled for 1, 3 and 5 p.m. will also go to the scholarship fund for students in the Townsend area.
According to Hilten, the festival is possible due to the hard work of all the generous sponsors including the Blount County Chamber of Commerce and the Townsend Visitor Center.