For more than two decades, Townsend has brought visitors and locals together to celebrate the fall season and the Appalachian culture that can still be seen today in the Great Smoky Mountains at the Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day. Scheduled for Sept. 27-28, this year’s event will once again showcase bluegrass music, clogging and square dancing, arts and crafts, demonstrations, and Southern cuisine at its finest.
“The festival is a timeless event that shares our local heritage, long-standing customs and old-fashioned fun that makes the Smoky Mountains so special,” said Carolyn Roach, chairwoman of the 2013 Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day. “The whole town celebrates this weekend, and there are many events happening throughout Townsend that complement the festival and share different aspects of Appalachian culture.”
Additional events include Old Timer’s Day in Cades Cove, the Blue Ribbon Country Fair at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, Railroad Days at the Little River Railroad Museum and Trillium Cove shopping.
The events open to the public, and a free shuttle service is offered to transport festival visitors to and from various places throughout Townsend. Shuttle’s stops include the Townsend Visitors Center, Trillium Cove, the Little River Railroad Museum and the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center.
Music and Dancing
The heart of the festival is Appalachian music, and this fall more than 20 bands will perform on stage including Appalachian Bluegrass, Blue Streaks, Carolina Bluegrass, Jay Tipton Band, Larry Hobbs & Company, Mike Clemmer, Notchey Creek, Pleasant Valley Boys, South of the River Boys, Steve Jordan & L.B., Broke String Ramblers, Circle of Friends, Mule Skinners, Walking in Tradition, Blue Streaks, Thankful Heart, and more.
There will be clogging and square dancing in front of the stage, and countless impromptu jam sessions throughout the festival grounds where musicians gather.
Young Pickers Competition
On Sept. 27, from 6-9 p.m. at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, young musicians ages 18 or under will compete in the five accustic categories of Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Fiddle, and Open. Following the competition, an informal discussion on what judges look for, led by 2012 National Champion and former Young Pickers winner Sarah Morgan, will include a Q&A for the audience to understand how the winners are chosen.
Art, Crafts and Appalachian Demonstrations
The festival grounds will showcase numerous art and craft booths, and local artisans will be demonstrating their talents while visitors watch. Traditional Appalachian demonstrations will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visitors will be able to experience the real Smoky Mountain heritage though demonstrations such as cornmeal making and beekeeping.
Roy Oliver will join the celebration this year with a book signing. Bring Your copy of “The Last Man From Tremont” and meet the man who captivated you with his words.
The Cades Cove Preservation Associate will share insight into Appalachian Heritage, and visitors can meet the decedents of Cades Cove and gain insight into their lives.
For the automobile lovers, there will be an antique tractor show that will showcase tractors and engines from the Foothills Tractor Club. Also, festival-goers can join the Smokey Mountain Thunderbird Club to discuss mutual admiration. Lastly, there will be an Electrical Vehicle Demonstration and Solar Display with expert Bob Harris.
In addition, visitors will have the chance to walk through a replica of an old Appalachian church sponsored by Chilhowee Area Ministries. Walk inside a miniature church, look at old photos, and hear stories about the olden days in local churches.
About the Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day:
The Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day, Sept. 27-28, takes place on the grounds of the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center at Townsend, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway. The event is free and family-oriented. Pets are not permitted on the festival grounds due to health and safety regulations.
Festival sponsors include Premier Sponsors: Laurel Valley Resort, The Daily Times, Knoxville Coca-Cola, Erie Insurance, and WIVK; Silver Sponsor: Great Smoky Mountains Association, Big Meadow Family Campground, and Cades Cove Cellars; Friends Sponsors: Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, Townsend Great Smokies KOA, CBBC, Pioneer Cabins & Guest Farm, Townsend Shopping Center, Keep Blount Beautiful, Jeepism, Ingram, Overholt &Bean P.C., and Carriage House Restaurant; Tent Sponsor: Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop.
For more information on the Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day, including updates on the schedule, please visit smokymountains.org or smokymountainfestivals.org or call the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority at 800 525-6834.