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From the Publisher's desk: My plate is full from local bounty

by Keith Whitson
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It is time to pick, dig, grill and eat. I am talking about all of the great happenings right here in
our county that are taking place or getting ready to. I attended the viewing of “Ramps & Ruritans: Tales of the Revered and Reeking Leek of Flag Pond, Tennessee” last week. This is a video of the famous ramp festival held each year in Flag Pond and the fame the small plant has brought to that community. The video, made by East Tennessee State University public relations staff members, Fred Sauceman and Larry Smith, was shown to a crowd of about 30 people at the old Flag Pond School. Although I truly enjoyed the film, I enjoyed even more the fellowship with some of Flag Pond’s finest. I was quickly reminded of how genuine, caring and neighborly those wonderful folks are. They had plenty to eat for the video preview and insisted that I join right in. It didn't take a lot of arm twisting. I do think I am going to have to do some belt loosening before it is all over.

I plan on attending the Ramp Festival scheduled for Saturday, May 12, to get another taste of their amazing cooking and an extra helping of their wonderful hospitality. In spite of the rain this past weekend, the Unicoi County Chamber’s first Nolichucky 5K River Run event drew a large crowd of participants. The Chamber staff worked hard to produce this new event mingled with great food and entertainment from the band Spank.

Runners came from far and near to compete and enjoy our beautiful scenery here in the county.
Sunday’s rain didn’t slow down the attendance for the Chillin’ & Grillin’ event held at Farmhouse Gallery in Unicoi. The event raises money for the Children’s Advocacy Center.

I was fortunate to receive tickets from a dear friend Linda Bailey. Although the event brought folks from throughout the area, I knew many faces from our county who came out to support the wonderful cause.

It was so good to see Linda and her husband Roland Bailey, who both insisted that I have plenty to eat. With a wide variety from pizza to barbecue to steak, I was able to once again walk away stuffed. I see a pattern developing here and I think it is one made from a larger size in pants. I guess it just comes along with the job. After all, I need to attend these functions on behalf of our loyal readership. But the goodness doesn't stop there.

As many of you have noticed, those juicy, ripe strawberries are coming in from Scott’s Farms. I look every time I pass their trailers to see if the sides are open and filled with boxes of berries. You just can’t get enough of them before the season is over. With this year’s early spring, we are experiencing an earlier crop of the delicious fruit. The crop will be at its peak soon when Unicoi welcomes in another Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival. This is also an event you don’t want to miss. Filled with plenty of crafts, games and entertainment, the festival offers a wide variety for everyone. Spotlighting the event and many of the dishes will be the famous Scott’s Strawberries, bursting with flavor. It is great to live in such a wonderful county that is honored for its amazing crops produced by some of the greatest neighbors around.

I am proud that we can highlight our best and share it with outsiders who know a good thing when they see it. With some cold weather recently, we are all holding our breath to see if the apple crop pulls through. But, in spite of the abundance produced, Unicoi Countians will fi nd plenty to celebrate come October at the Annual Apple Festival. This past weekend’s rains were a sure indication that folks around here don’t let a little messy weather keep them from celebrating the abundance of our land and the opportunity to get together for a good time or a good cause. I might as well forget that diet I was planning on starting. It is festival season.

Besides that, I got an invitation from my dear friend Daphne Linville to attend the Hospital Auxiliary’s luncheon next week. I think I told you about that last year in a column. Those women are just amazing cooks. I am getting excited just thinking about it. I will see you at the events. I will be the one in the oversized sweat pants.