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Annual fiddlers fest draws crowd

Music enthusiasts from across the area joined together in the Town of Unicoi for the 20th annual Fiddlers & Fiddleheads Festival at Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens on Saturday, April 25.
Individuals in attendance were greeted with soulful sounds of bluegrass, country and gospel music along with a vintage car show, art and refreshments during the all-day event.
The threat of inclement weather loomed over the horizon, but a break with sunny skies allowed participants to have a festive time locally, said Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch.
“Thanks to the weather clearing up a little bit, it turned out pretty good,” he added. “We got a lot of good, new musicians this year and we got, I guess you could call it, an abbreviated car show from what we usually have since they don’t like to get out in the rain. But we’re tickled to death to be able to pull this off again and the weather gave us a break to where we could do it.
“It is just one of those events where everybody comes and has a good time. It isn’t a money-making event; it’s a musical, historical event that lets everyone, not just from this community, come over and have a nice outing and enjoy the outdoors, the music and each other.”
Amelia Osborne, gallery coordinator with the Violin Shoppe in Charlotte, has roots from Unicoi County and enjoyed the opportunity to come back for the festival, along with the model hill climb the day before.
“All my favorite things came together that day,” Osborne said of the hill climb. “From my family, my mom, my dad, my brother, my nephew, my very dear and closest friend Mike McIntosh … it was just a day to celebrate what we worked for all year long and it was just wonderful. It was especially nice, but Mike set it up to where I could run the 1932 BB Express truck. I never was in a hill climb before, I had the opportunity to race in other events, but the hill climb was an incredible experience.”
A piece of artwork, which Osborne’s forte, was on display – a watercolor drawing on McIntosh’s father.
“I paint for a living,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl, my dad and I would sit around and sketch and draw. Then we’d go out into the garage and wrench and then go to church to sing. We just celebrated life and loved it. Everyone who is here for the festival is like-minded and like-hearted, so we just come together in the community to celebrate the life, the music, the cars and the time together.”
Over the 20 years of the event, the Fiddlers & Fiddleheads Festival has even brought down celebrities, including Popcorn Sutton, a car-lover in his own right.
“I was driving through Erwin and across from Clinchfield Credit Union was a fabric shop,” McIntosh shared in a story of meeting Sutton. “I saw a Model A Tudor Sedan and didn’t recognize it so I turned, came back in to see who owned it and, son of a gun, it was Popcorn Sutton. He and his girlfriend had stopped at the store and we’ve been friends since.
“He’d buy Model A parts from me. He had two Model As, the sedan and a pickup that had the moonshine still in the bed of the truck, that he would take from event to event. He brought the truck up to the festival and that was about 10 years ago.”