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Ramp Festival set for Saturday, May 9

A yearly tradition will be held once again in Unicoi County this weekend.
The 30th annual Flag Pond Ruritan Ramp Festival will take place on Saturday, May 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the old Flag Pond school.
“The festival has been a mainstay in Unicoi County and neighboring North Carolina,” said Anita Leger, secretary with the Flag Pond Ruritan Club. “It is the first festival of the season, ushering in a multitude of spring, summer and fall festivals in the area.”
Activities will be going on the entire duration, rain or shine, Leger added.
Ramps will be the mainstay of the event. The wild, pungent, and iconic, onion-like plant has been the focus of the event over years. The festival honors the history the native vegetable has with the area.
“Old timers celebrated spring with a meal of ‘branch lettuce and ramps,’ two of the earliest signs of the end of winter,” Leger said.
Tradition held that the meal of branch lettuce and ramps was said to cleanse the blood, Leger added.
While it may be the focus of the event, it could be rough sailing to eat a ramp by itself. The plant is typically cooked and eaten with beans and potatoes.
Participants will be able to purchase a meal ticket for $8. The purchase includes a plate for beans, cornbread, bacon, ramps, potatoes, dessert and a drink. Hotdogs and hamburgers will also be available.
On-goers will have their appetite met along with a different amount of entertainment.
Different bands will be playing during the festival, including the Unicoi County Bluegrass Band, the Spivey Mountain Boys, the Miller family and the line dance group, the Dandi-lines.
The Flag Pond Ruritan also stays busy throughout the year. The civic organization provides assistance to families in and around the Flag Pond community and sponsors different youth activities through the Unicoi County school system.