Rhododendron Festival’s storied tradition just keeps growing

Published 7:22 am Monday, June 16, 2014

Tradition is one of the hallmarks of Roan Mountain’s annual Rhododendron Festival.

A host of activities are scheduled for the 67th Rhododendron Festival, but the star remains the prized blooms.

A host of activities are scheduled for the 67th Rhododendron Festival, but the star remains the prized blooms.

“It is such a tradition. I remember it from when I was a kid,” said Brian Tipton of the Roan Mountain Citizens Club, the organization that sponsors the event each year. Tipton said that many of those who attend the festival remember it from their youth and have attended the festival for their entire lives. “It is a great community event.”
The 67th annual Rhododendron Festival will be held this year June 21 and 22 at Roan Mountain State Park and includes a variety of music as well as food vendors as well as arts and crafts booths. Tipton said this year’s festival will include many of the favorite vendors from years past, but will also feature some new vendors as well.
“It has been such a great success,” Tipton said of the festival. “We have just tried to grow and enhance it.”
Tipton said the hats and T-shirts, which the Citizen’s Club sells for the festival, will include a new design this year.
“This is my favorite design yet,” he said. “It is inspired by mountain music.” The design features a guitar formed by the mountains as well as music notes and blooming rhododendrons.
According to the Citizen’s Club website, “This year’s design was inspired by the lively mountain music that spreads throughout the Roan Mountain area. Roan Mountain is home to music that has spread all over the world and entertained many along the way.”
The first Rhododendron Festival was held in 1947 after being organized by the Roan Mountain Citizens Club as a way to celebrate the natural beauty of the region. The Rhododendron Gardens atop the 6,327-foot peak of Roan Mountain cover an area of 600 acres and comprise the largest Catawba rhododendron garden in the world.
“The flowers are expected to be in full bloom the weekend of the festival,” Tipton said, adding that the rhododendrons at Carver’s Gap are expected to peak mid-week.
He said the festival is traditionally held the third weekend in June to try to hit the blooms at the height of their beauty.
The music schedule for the festival is as follows:
• 10 a.m. – Thistle Dew
• 11 a.m. – Roan Mountain Moonshiners
• Noon – The Winters
• 1 p.m. – Bass Brake
• 2 p.m. – Scholarship presentation followed by Art & Cathy
• 3 p.m.- Chickory Jam
• 4 p.m. – Tammy & Rick
• 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Open Mic for any gospel entertainment
• 1 p.m. – Young Family
• 2 p.m. – Joyful Noise Hand Bell Choir
• 3 p.m. – Greater Glory
• 4-5 p.m. – Open Mic for any gospel entertainment

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