By Richard Rourk
Fall festival season will hit its peak in East Tennessee this weekend as Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce hosts the 42nd Unicoi County Annual Apple Festival.
The festival will be held on Friday, Oct. 4, and on Saturday, Oct. 5, with more than 350 vendors and two music stages set up for the event. The festival will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
According to Chamber Executive Director Amanda Delp, the organization has high hopes for the 42nd staging of the popular event.
“We are expecting this year’s Apple Festival to be a huge success,” Delp said. “As you know, last year was extremely successful; everything clicked, including weather, and we are hoping for a repeat of that success this year.”
Delp acknowledged that the annual event draws close to 110,000 attendees and is considered to be Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 events in the southeast and is a four-time winner of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association’s Pinnacle Award.
“The premier two-day event offers something for everyone, including handmade crafts, antiques, entertainment, a large children’s area, a Blue Ridge Pottery show and sale, contests and a smorgasbord of food,” Delp said.
One major difference in this year’s festival compared to past festivals is the location of the food vendors.
“In the past, we had three different food courts, and this year we decided to combine all of our food vendors into one really large food court with tents and covered seating at a central location,” Delp said. “All of our favorites are coming back and we have added new ones as well. The new location will be directly behind the Unicoi County Courthouse in the parking lot.”
According to Delp, the old food court that was located adjacent to the Unicoi County Courthouse will now house all of the sponsors of the Apple Festival.
“Our wonderful sponsors will have promotions and giveaways,” Delp said. “Our sponsors will be Neighborhood Ford, Champion Windows, Russell Cellular, BWXT Nuclear Fuels, Lee Filter, Select Seven, Grand Rental Station, Ballad Health, Integral Chiropractic, Bath Fitter, Hubs Paint and Design and Holston Distributing. They will be located adjacent to the courthouse.”
The food court that was at the gospel stage located on the corner of South Main Avenue and Love Street will be home to more craft vendors.
“We actually opened up space for more than 35 additional craft vendors this year by consolidating the food courts,” Delp said.
The 42nd Annual Apple Festival will again feature two main entertainment stages.
“The two entertainment stages are the Love Street Stage and Tucker Street Stage,” Delp said. “On Friday and Saturday, the Love Street Stage will feature Christian artists and Southern Gospel groups from around the region. The Tucker Street Stage is a pro-touring stage that will feature headlining concerts.”
Headlining this year’s Apple Festival will be Southern Rebellion. Southern Rebellion will be playing the Tucker Street Stage on Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m. According to Delp, Southern Rebellion is a high-energy country music band from Johnson City.
“Their original music, which can be found on their debut album ‘Southern Man,’ is the perfect combination of Country Music and Southern Rock,” Delp said.
According to Delp, the festival will still feature numerous activities for the younger crowd.
“The festival will also contain a large children’s area with games and rides for the young and young at heart,” Delp said.
The festival spans across a 5-block section of downtown Erwin and includes adjoining side streets. From Interstate 26, take Exit 37 into downtown Erwin. Several parking areas around Exit 37 have been secured for festival attendees.
To ensure the safety of the large number of attendees, festival organizers ask that you please do not bring pets onto the festival grounds. Bicycles and skateboards are also not permitted on the festival grounds.
Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce will again have one of kind Apple Festival T-shirts for sale. For more information and a map of the festival, please see The Erwin Record’s special Apple Festival supplement included in this issue.
For more updates about the 42nd Apple Festival and the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, follow Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce on Facebook.