Scott’s Strawberries will again be a featured attraction at the 17th Annual Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival on Saturday, May 18. Above, Kaylee Nicholson sells strawberries at a previous festival. (Contributed photo)

From Staff Reports

The Town of Unicoi is preparing for the 17th Annual Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival which will be held Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Unicoi Elementary School field.

“Residents looking to get involved have a number of ways to join the festivities this year,” said Communications and Programs Director Ashley Shelton. “Whether you have a talent to share, a product to sell or just want to volunteer in your community, the Strawberry Festival has it all.”

According to a press release from the Town of Unicoi, the festival will feature approximately 100 craft vendors showcasing handmade items ranging from pottery to soaps, jewelry, home decor and more. Spaces are filling up fast so anyone interested in a booth should contact the Tourist Information Center as soon as possible. Craft spaces are reserved for handmade products, though commercial products may be placed on a waiting list in the event space becomes available.

Numerous food vendors are already confirmed and will be serving hamburgers, hot dogs, fried potatoes, tacos, tamales, kettle corn, strawberry funnel cakes, homemade ice cream and many more menu items. Food vendor spaces are restricted to non-profit organizations and applications are available on the town’s website.

A Strawberry Dessert Recipe Contest will be sponsored by the Mountain Harvest Kitchen, a food incubator in the heart of Unicoi. Contestants are encouraged to dazzle the judges taste buds as they compete for first ($75), second ($50) and third ($25) place prizes.

“People just love food, they want to put their own spin on things and that’s what this contest is all about,” said Lee Manning, director of the Mountain Harvest Kitchen. “We want to see something new, something that will have us all begging for more.”

Entries will be judged on taste, appearance and creativity and must include a copy of the recipe to qualify. Contestants may submit their desserts to the kitchen’s booth between 10-11 a.m. and an awards ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m. To register for the dessert contest, contact the Tourist Information Center prior to the festival.

In conjunction with the Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival, Little Miss Southern Sparkle Pageants will host the Miss Strawberry Festival Pageant from 9 a.m. to noon in the Unicoi Elementary School gymnasium. Those interested in participating may email Valerie Hendrix at director@southernsparklepageant@gmail.com or visit Little Miss Southern Sparkle on Facebook for more information.

While the musical line-up is almost complete, the planning committee is always on the lookout for new talent. Local musicians who think they have what it takes to please festival audiences may submit their band for consideration to fill spots at either the Strawberry Festival or other town-sponsored events including the upcoming Farmers Market opening the end of May and Freedom Fest in July. A link to video or audio recording is required for consideration and may be emailed to recreationaide@unicoitn.net with “Performance Request” in the subject line.

The Town of Unicoi organizes the annual Strawberry Festival and is assisted through sponsorships from local businesses. Festival staff is comprised of town employees, volunteers and local emergency services. Anyone interested in sponsoring the Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival or volunteering at the event should contact the Tourist Information Center at 735-0517 or email recreationaide@unicoitn.net.

Additional information is available online at Facebook.com/TownOfUnicoi/Events or on the town’s website, UnicoiTN.net. Both pages will be updated with the festival map, musical performance schedule and vendor list when released.