Erwin Prepares for Festival Influx Friday and Saturday

John M. Dabbs

Erwin officials and Unicoi County leaders are preparing for a large influx of visitors this Friday and Saturday. The Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce will hold it's annual Apple Festival on schedule. Last year's festival was cancelled at the last minute due to COVID-19 Pandemic concerns. Recent trends with local spikes in COVID-19 cases had many wondering if the festival would be cancelled again. Fortunately, after the announcement was made that it would go on as scheduled - with mitigation efforts- the number of cases in the region have decreased.

Apple Festival

This will be Unicoi County's 44th Apple Festival. Traditionally held the fist Friday and Saturday of October, this year's event will be October 1 and 2. The festival will feature a 4 mile race, the Miss Apple Festival pageant, a baking contest (apple recipes), an apple dumpling contest, arts, crafts, live music and lots of activities and crafts for kids of all ages. Did I mention there will also be food vendors? Food trucks and food concessions will be available on site, and sometimes they also set up along the periphery too.

The festival draws crowds from all over the Tri-Cities region, and adjoining states. You can expect to find plenty of apple related recipes and good for sale at the event. With a name like "apple festival", you should expect it. Be sure to grab some apple butter from the ruritan or other groups. The recipe is not quite what you'll find in the grocery stores.

Attendees and vendors

Roughly 110,000 people flock to the streets in the small town of Erwin each year for the festival. It has been routinely ranked as one of the top 20 festivals in the Southeastern United States by the Southeast Tourism Society. The event coordinators expect the numbers to be skewed someone this year due to COVID, but are optimistic with all of the enthusiasm generated by the event's return this year.

Vendor spaces have been slightly reduced for mitigation efforts toward social distancing. Many of the vendors will still be here, but spread out more than in the past. Vendors come from local talent, regional artisans, and out-of-state to share in the regional spirit and tradition of the community.

The Southern Appalachians are well represented in the arts, crafts and foods within the festival. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't enjoy coming and enjoying the festival. The best part is the admission price. The event is free to everyone. The hours run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Only vendors are allowed in the vendor areas after hours, as they'll be restocking their booths and securing their wares.

Your schedule

Maybe you should add the festival to your family's schedule. You'll see around 350 vendors from across the country. Artisans showcase their talents and goods, to include:

  • blown glass
  • jewelry
  • metal crafts
  • painting
  • photography
  • sculpting
  • wood-working

You'll find live music across three stages in the venue, along with a children's area containing rides and activities just for them. The competition is friendly, but fierce. Enter or watch the NFS 4-Mile Race, the Farm Bureau Tennis Tournament, the Erwin Record's Photography Contest, or show off your cooking talents at the Chamber of Commerce's Cooking Contest or Apple Dumpling Contest.

Don't just take my word for it. For a free event, you can afford to check it out and see even more.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN
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