Coy Lee Harris, Celesta Shelton and Judy Harris prepare food for attendees at the 34th Annual Ramp Festival on Saturday, May 11. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

The 34th Annual Ramp Festival took place on Saturday, May 11, and despite the rain, drew record crowds.

“We sold over a thousand plates,” Friends of Rocky Fork President and Unicoi County Commissioner Marie Rice said. “We had a lot of to go boxes, as well.”

Ramps, the main attraction, sold out this year. According to the Royal Botanical Gardens, ramps are classified as a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States.

According to Barbara Desso with the Flag Pond Ruritan, attendees enjoyed meals of ramp infused potatoes, bacon, cole slaw, cornbread, beans, dessert and a drink.

“Weather was no contender for the Flag Pond Ramp Festival,” Desso said.

In addition to the food, there were numerous vendors and entertainment throughout Flag Pond School. Vendors sold items such as watercolor original prints, soaps, journals, metal jewelry, kitchen utensils and wind chimes, essential oils and organic salves, bug spray, handcrafted birdhouses, wooden signs, coat racks, benches, wooden bowls and spoons, steel carving knives, coasters, wire art, Mary Kay, Avon products and vitamins, Thirty-One, handcrafted macramé jewelry, sea glass jewelry, lamps, sea glass pictures, and much more. Author Elizabeth Buttke was selling her book “Deep In The Holler,” as well as autographing copies.

The musical lineup included the Unicoi High School Band, The Dandy Line Dancers from Asheville, Sweetwater Church of God Singers, Spivey Mountain Boys, Mountain Melodies and The Flag Ponderer’s.

All proceeds from the festival will go toward community projects, scholarships, children’s Christmas gifts, Halloween party, festivals and numerous donations to other needs in Unicoi County.

“The planning for the festival begins several months in advance and would not be possible without the many volunteers that put in numerous hours of cleaning, maintenance of the grounds and children’s playset, pavilion, ordering of food and T-shirts, shopping, prepping, cooking, baking, serving, cashiers, etc.,” Desso said. “Festival goers got to enjoy the many musicians, dancers and singers throughout the day. Vendors brought their unique wares to sell and donated to the prize drawings that were held later in the day. Food was served on the lower level as well as in the gym. Vendors were also on the lower level and the majority chose to set up in the gym due to the inclement weather.”

Desso also said the Flag Pond Ruritan is appreciative of the efforts of many festival supporters.

“To each person/business sponsors/attendees that contributed in whatever way, a heartfelt thank you from the Flag Pond Ruritan Club for the time, energy and resources that have been donated,” she said. “ … Once again visitors came from many states, as well as local and nearby communities. The positive feedback with expressions of how many love the festival and look forward to it every year. Next year will be a milestone as it will be the 35th year for the festival.”

The Flag Pond Community Center, 110 School House Road, Flag Pond, will also be the site of the Fourth of July Community Parade, lawnmower races, and fireworks, which will be held on Saturday, June 29. More information will follow.

The Flag Pond Ruritan Club welcomes new members and meets every third Tuesday of the month at the Community Center (Old Flag Pond School) at 7 p.m. There will not be a meeting in May, but meetings will resume in June. For more information, contact President Richard Waldrop at 743-3430 or Vice President Judee Krom at 388-5503.