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Fiddlers & Fiddleheads Festival combines music, cars, food

Karen Simmering and Mike McIntosh pose with a cutout of Popcorn Sutton. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Curtis Carden)
Karen Simmering and Mike McIntosh pose with a cutout of Popcorn Sutton. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Curtis Carden)

By Curtis Carden

Spring has sprung in more ways than one in the town of Unicoi and a host of annual festivals have made their way to the area.

The town hosted the 21st annual Fiddlers & Fiddleheads Festival on Saturday, April 30, at Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens with numerous individuals taking in the sights and sounds of the festivities.

The event featured exhibits, along with music, food and vendors; the premise was also overflowing with antique vehicles on display. An ideal weather situation helped the event go off without a hitch.

“Did you notice the blue sky,” Karen Simmering, with the Model A Restorers Club of East Tennessee said with a laugh. “We’re always worried about cloud cover and when the rain might come. It’s sounding like tonight, so it’s wonderful to get by it.”

Simmering was just one of a handful of individuals that take part in the event. The Model A club has attended the festival for 10 years and Simmering, who attended on Saturday with members as well as her husband, Dave, said the group has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

“This is one of our favorite meets,” she said. “We moved from New Hampshire and this has turned into one of our favorite events. It’s lowkey, people just drive in with their cars, they drive in with their guitars and it’s just a wonderful, laid back event.

“We have a lot of Model As here from our Model A club,” Simmering said. “One of the Model A clubs from Asheville is here and there’s a number of people here from the Model A club from Hendersonville, N.C., are here, too. We’ve got T Models, a few hot rods … there’s a wide variety of things and a little bit of everything for everybody.”

Each year has seen the festival grow, and organizers liked what they got out of the 2016 event.

“We have a really good turnout today,” Mike McIntosh, with Model A Macs, said. “This is the 21st annual event and I’ve been lucky to be here for each of the 21 years. We’ve had people from South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama. So far the weather has been great and, hopefully, we’ll be able to do it again next year.

McIntosh, who helps coordinate the event, thanked various individuals for their assistance.

“We have a lot of spectators and a lot of fantastic bands here today,” he added. “We have the hit-and-miss engines here today and I want to thank everybody who brought the antique tractors and lawn mowers here.”

Each car provides a story and the festival proves to be a reunion, of sorts, for people across the southeast, McIntosh said.

“Some of the cars and people that are here … it’s not only people that relate to different generations with their family members, but the car is passed down from one generation to the next,” he explained. “There were two men here, one’s name was John Lingo, the other man’s name is Bobby and they have a story. Mr. Lingo’s father bought a 1910 Maxwell and he sold it to Bob’s father back in the 1950s. John lived in Greeneville and Bob lives in Weaverville in North Carolina, so I introduced the sons today. They knew the story, but haven’t seen each other in years. It was like a car reunion and a family reunion.”