Getting wet

Steadfast find fun even as rain soaks Townsend Days

Soggy weather the last weekend in September meant a rain-soaked end to several big events in Townsend. Crowds were smaller on Saturday and Sunday, but a good Friday -- before the heavy rain -- kept the weekend from being a total wash out.

Four major events were grouped together this year under the heading Townsend Days. They were the Townsend Visitors Center’s Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day, Nawger Nob Craft Fair, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Blue Ribbon Fair and the Little River Railroad Museum Railroad Days.

Organizers said heavy rain on that Saturday impacted the size of the crowd that turned out.

At the Visitors Center, the Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day were in full swing Friday, helping them have a good day. At the Nawger Nob Craft Fair, Saturday crowds were sparse, but Sunday was a good day.

“We had really a wonderful time considering the rain that hit us on Saturday,” said Jeanie Hilten, special events coordinator for the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Friday was a great day. We had good attendance, terrific music, arts and crafts, all the demonstrations were good and special programs we had went off well. People on Saturday started to come out in the morning, and then we had that downpour of 4 inches of rain in six hours and had to shut down early.”

Hilten said everyone who came enjoyed themselves. “We appreciate the support of those who came out,” she said. “We had a good, safe friendly event,” she said.

At the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, marketing director Nancy Williams said the Blue Ribbon Country Fair on Saturday, Sept. 26, turned out well even with soggy conditions. “It went very well actually. We had a larger crowd than expected considering the weather. People were here and stayed a while,” she said of the third annual event.

Many of the fair games, including the watermelon seed-spitting contest, were moved under the amphitheater roof. “They cut into the first watermelon and found out it was seedless, but the second one had seeds,” she said with a laugh.

Williams said everyone enjoyed Lodge Ladies Skillet Throw. “We had 25 women who entered the Lodge Ladies Skillet Throw. They went out in pouring rain - and it was pouring - and threw skillets, and 20 people got prizes,” she said.

The Lodge Skillet Co., provide the Lodge products as prizes in the contest. Prizes included skillets, baking dishes, camping equipment, aprons and cook books.

“It was very well received. I had to say those people who participated in the pouring rain were great sports. Nobody canceled, and we had a good time,” she said.

There was livestock on site for people to see and there were a record number of entries, almost 500, in the different divisions of fair competitions.

Lou Ann Greene won the Best Pie in the Cove contest with an apple pie. “We’ve presented the Best Pie in the Cove Award for three years, and all three winners have been apple pies,” Williams said. “We’ve had different judges every year, so I would say that it is a popular pie.”

Rain scattered the crowds at the Railroad Days event on Saturday at the Little River Railroad and Lumber Co. Museum.

“Until the rain came, we had good crowds, but when the rain came it got kind of sparse,” museum treasurer Sandy Headrick said.

Headrick said the museum’s mission is to preserve and present the story of Townsend, how it grew from an agrarian community and how it changed when the railroad and lumber company came to the area and gave many residents their first jobs and first income.

“The railroad and lumber company changed the economy of the community and changed what people did and who lived here,” she said.

Headrick said the museum is open throughout October but closes for the season in November. The museum is open by appointment only for groups in the off season. For information call 865-448-2211.

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