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From the Publisher’s Desk – County offers great ‘pick’ of music

By Keith Whitson

There were a lot of things going on Saturday to take “note” of. Unicoi County took the stage as star attraction for musicians and music lovers. With an event being held in Unicoi, Erwin and Flag Pond, the weather contributed harmony to the trio.

The Town of Unicoi had a very successful showing for its Fiddlers and Fiddleheads. The event, held at Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens, the home of Mayor Johnny Lynch and wife Pat, has one of the best host settings in Unicoi County.

After crossing the covered bridge entrance, guests wind around into view of the festivities. A pond, peacocks, nostalgic, rustic buildings and lush fields surrounded by the mountains provides the perfect stage for the event.

Bands performed in the pavilion, on the porch and gathered with friends under the shade of a tree, throughout the day. Attendees could also stroll along an assortment of vendors and enjoy crafts and delicious food options as well. An antique car show brought many classics together for enthusiasts to explore.

Stopping back in Erwin, a new event offered a chance for musicians and those with interest to check out the East Tennessee Guitar and Music Show at the National Guard Armory. A large turnout throughout the day almost guarantees this to become another annual Unicoi County event.

From the inside to the outside, dealers and private collectors had their goods set up for show and for sale.

The offering ranged from amplifiers, parts and  memorabilia to a multitude of guitars. Instruments were available in every price range from a few hundred dollars to one model with a price tag of over $130,000. You had to ask the dealer for the price, because the attached tag only had the word “Expensive.”

That particular guitar is from the 1930s and shows plenty of use and wear. I don’t know much about guitars, but I do know that there are qualities which musicians can pick up on. This makes some stand out above the others and apparent usage is a good indicator of that.

There were vendors from Georgia, South Carolina, Kingsport and even an Erwin enthusiast who brought some of his guitars out for show and ended up selling a few.

The Kingsport vendor makes electric guitars from start to finish. The process takes months but results in a beautiful, pristine sounding instrument.

You could catch attendees trying out the instruments while strolling along the displays. A stage was set up outside where bands to perform throughout the day. There were musician workshops, food vendors and door prizes as well.

Those involved with the show, coordinated by the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, said they were very surprised and pleased with the turnout and response.

Flag Pond also had a first Saturday with the Upper East Tennessee Fiddler’s Convention held on the grounds and gym of the former Flag Pond Elementary School.

Over 75 bands competed throughout the day as judges kept narrowing the best down to their top choices.

Awards were as unique as the entertainment and went to such categories as fiddlingest fiddlers, top banjo pickers, hottest string bands, finest singers and dancingest dancers.

There were some cash prizes as high as $350, but the unusual awards were surely some that would be remembered forever. The prizes included a plump laying hen, a peck of fine potatoes, a bushel of apples, a pair of galluses, a bottle of cod liver oil, a box of salted crackers and various other items of days gone by.

The plump laying hen was featured to the right of the stage. Sitting in her cage, atop a stand, she seemed to enjoy the music. At one point she “set” her approval and showed her worth by laying an egg.

Unicoi County has much to offer and we are just getting started. This Saturday will be the Second Annual Great Outdoors Festival in downtown Erwin. Next Saturday it is back to Flag Pond with the Annual Ramp Festival. Unicoi holds the stage on Saturday, May 20, with the Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival.

Everything in Unicoi County ties into great music, great food, good times good people and lots of wonderful memories. I look forward to seeing you  out enjoying them.