A new name pulled everything together on April 30 and May 1 as the annual Townsend Spring Festival and Old Timers Day became Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival. Only the name has changed, however, as the musicians, crafters, artists and storytellers joined the regular contingent of vendors, pickers and exhibitors for a weekend filled with all the things that make this annual kick-off to spring a fun event. The two days were filled with music, activities for the children, storytelling, arts and crafts demonstrations and old-fashion Southern food, all celebrating Appalachian culture.
“The heart of the festival is definitely the music and the local artisans, but the experience of seeing all the different aspects of Appalachian culture in one place is the best part,” said Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The festival began on Friday, April 30, with Old Timer’s Day held on Saturday, May 1.
The Young Pickers Talent Competition was a highlight of the festival again this year, with four top prizes awarded to musicians between the ages of 7 and 19. Grand prize winner was Matthew Taylor, 13, of Maryville, on guitar. Other first prize winners included Matthew Boling, 16, of Blaine, banjo; Julie Nelms, 14, of Robbinsville, N.C., fiddle and mandolin; and John Haynes, 12, of Cummings, Ga., mandolin. Justin Walden and the Jay Tipton Band, of Athens won first place in the open competition.
Prizes for the first place winners were $100, a plaque and a grand prize including two song CD mastering with 50 CD promo. Second place winners received $50 and a ribbon, and third place received $25 and a ribbon.
Other Young Pickers winners included Alex Bacon, 15, of Maryville; Samuel Millsaps, 11, of Townsend; Paul Rusticus, 16, of Indianapolis, Ind.; Joseph Millsaps, 8, of Townsend; Autumn Danielle Craig, 7, of Norton, Va.; Tyler Smith, 19, and Chris Brown, 19, of Knoxville. The Young Pickers Talent Competition was sponsored by Pick ‘n’ Grin, Kaufman Acoustic Kamp, Rocky Branch Community Club, Music Row, Digital Express, WDVX, Murlin’s Music World, and Pokey’s,
The lawn at the Townsend Visitor’s Center was filled with arts and crafts booths, with local artisans demonstrating their talents and entertaining the crowds. Storytellers were on hand on Saturday and included special guest Kate Agmann of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild.
The Heart and Hands Cake Raffle and Bake Sale, a festival tradition, took place both days to raise money for the Hearts and Hands Scholarship fund.
Festival sponsors include Coca Cola, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Bear-ly Rustic Cabin Rentals, Dogwood Realty, L.L.C., Parkside Realty Services, Little River Realty, Kinzel Springs, Tennessee Real Estate, Townsend Great Smokies KOA, Big Meadow Family Campground, Hideaway Cottages, Townsend Shopping Center, Village Market IGA, Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, Woodland Homes, Murlin’s Music World, Pick ‘N Grin, Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps, WIVK Radio, WBIR TV, The Maryville Daily Times, and Bank East.