By Mariel Gambino
June 10, 2013. Saturday, June 15, marks the start of the 67th annual Rhododendron Festival. Held at the foot of Roan Mountain in the state park, the festival boasts a two-day span of food vendors, craft demonstrations and a variety of traditional music.
The Roan Mountain Citizens Club, established in 1946, was started by a group of local businessmen who highlighted the importance of stirring local development. Now, members of the community make up the club and work collectively to bring business together and help Roan Mountain prosper. The club has sponsored the free Rhododendron Festival for over fifty years, and they present a $1,000 scholarship to one Cloudland High School student each year.
“It’s one of the only clubs in town that’s working to keep the history of the community alive and help grow it for the future,” said Brian Tipton, vice president of the Roan Mountain Citizens Club.
More on the Roan Mountain Citizens Club can be found here.
Attendance is expected to be well into the mid-thousands with over 100 vendors of all varieties setting up shop in the amphitheater area of the park. Craft vendors at this festival are unique due to the rule that all crafts must be personally handcrafted and include a public demonstration, if possible.
Entertainment kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday with Chicory Jam, Bass Brake at 11 a.m., Rose in the Rain at 12 p.m., Tom Love at 1 p.m. and the scholarship presentation at 2 p.m. Roan Mountain Moonshiners pick up the musical pace once again at 2:05 p.m., with Mountain Rose following at 3 p.m. and Sound Traveler closing at 4 p.m.
Sunday’s first band, Gospel Grass, starts at 1 p.m. Royal Vision follows at 2 p.m. and Greater Glory closes out the festival at 3 p.m.
The Citizens Club is offering Roan Mountain cookbooks, auto tags, t-shirts and hats. These specific items can be found in a tent underneath the big oak tree. Cold canned drinks and water will also be available for purchase. All proceeds go to Roan Mountain community projects sponsored through the Citizens Club.
Parking is free and will be handled by the Roan Mountain Youth Club. Donations to the nonprofit organization are accepted.
Each day the festival will close at 5 p.m., or after the crowd departs. Pets are allowed at the festival and the weather for the weekend is predicted to be sunny and beautiful. For more on the festival, visit Roan Mountain’s website by clicking here.