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Townsend Spring Festival features Appalachian history and culture

  townsend spring festival
Old Timers Day in Townsend, TN. Image by Jeaneane Payne.

TOWNSEND, TN – The foothills of the Smoky Mountains will come to life with bluegrass music, arts and crafts, time honored traditions and Appalachian cooking at the annual Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival and Old Timers Day.

Scheduled for May 5-6, 2017 at the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center the festival will provide an atmosphere where family and friends of all ages can partake in time-honored Appalachian traditions at the free community event. Parking is $8 per day with proceeds benefiting the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department. Two-day parking passes are available online at for $10 or for $12 on site Friday.

For everyone’s convenience, a free shuttle service will provide transportation to and from the different Townsend sites participating in the weekend’s festivities from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. both days.

“The spring festival provides an opportunity for our community to share the area’s history and heritage with families, friends and visitors. We all cherish our traditions, and there is no better way to celebrate them than to showcase them during the beautiful spring weather at the festival,” said Jim McBride, festival chair.

An event for all ages, the spring festival will center around traditional and contemporary bluegrass and mountain music; along with clogging and square dancing; art and craft booths; numerous Appalachian demonstrations; old-fashioned kids’ games; and Southern food, such as fried pies and kettle corn.

In addition to all that will be taking place at the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center in Townsend, other sites throughout Townsend will host a variety of activities for locals and visitors to enjoy over the weekend. These include a ride up Rich Mountain Road on May 6 at 2 p.m. as part of Jeepism’s birthday celebration, the Tennessee Pottery Festival at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center on May 6 and the Nawger Nob Arts & Crafts Fair, May 6-7.

Festival-goers can also take the opportunity to enjoy an interactive walking tour featuring a full-sized engine, coal and water tank at the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum, as well as a unique shopping experience at Townsend’s downtown – Trillium Cove.

Whether you are searching for an Appalachian piece of artwork for your home, hungry for some delicious barbeque or just looking to enjoy the many bluegrass performances, there is just about something for everyone to enjoy at this special two-day event.

Music and Dancing
On Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until after 9 p.m., musical performances are scheduled on stage inviting locals and visitors to bring lawn chairs from home and sit back, relax and enjoy the toe-tapping, mountain tunes. Bluegrass music will also resonate from impromptu jam sessions in all areas of the festival grounds. Festival-goers will have the opportunity to enjoy an evening square dance on Saturday at 8:10 p.m.

A tradition of the annual spring festival is to highlight and showcase music with Appalachian roots. This year’s festival will present the unique sounds and musical talent of bands, including Notchy Creek, Jay Tipton Band, Carolina Bluegrass, Hot Water, Wilson Family, Blackberry Jam, High Point Quartet, Steve Jordan Band, Jones Brothers, Mike Clemmer, Gravel Road, Lost in Tyme, Saving Grass, Muleskinners, Blue Streaks, Appalachian Drive, and Raven Welch.

Arts, Crafts and Appalachian Demonstrations
The festival grounds will showcase numerous art and craft booths, and local artisans will be demonstrating their talents while visitors watch. Among the many unique demonstrations will be cornmeal making, antique farm equipment and cars as well as oil painting demonstrations, rug hooking and woodcarving.

In addition, visitors will have the chance to experience the area’s natural history at the Cades Cove Preservation and walk through a replica of an old Appalachian church. The church replica at this year’s festival will be sponsored by CHilhowee Area Ministries (CHARM).

Storytelling and Local Authors
Local storytellers will educate and entertain visitors of all ages at this year’s spring festival, delighting them with mountain stories that will paint a picture of Appalachian heritage.

The spring festival’s featured authors are Dr. Lin Stepp and Roy Oliver. Stepp, author of Daddy’s Girl and Oliver, author of Last Man from Tremont, will hold signings on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pets are no longer permitted on the festival grounds; and this will be strictly enforced for the health and safety of both people and pets.

Festival sponsors include Premier Sponsor: Dogwood Cabins; Silver Sponsors: Big Meadow Campground & RV, Great Smoky Mountains Association; Friends Sponsors: Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, Carriage House Restaurant, Keep Blount Beautiful; Media Sponsors: The Daily Times, WATE-TV.

For more information on the Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival and Old Timers Day, including updates on the schedule, please call the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority at (800) 525-6834 or (865) 448-6134 or visit

Published April 21, 2017

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