Applications being accepted for Rhododendron Festival

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, February 4, 2015

File Photo

ROAN MOUNTAIN — Vendor applications for the 69th Rhododendron Festival are now being accepted. The event will be held the third weekend in June.
The festival will be held June 20-21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the area between the amphitheater and the swimming pool in the state park.
The festival got its start back in 1947 when it was held at the top of Roan Mountain to take advantage of the blooming rhododendron gardens that are present there.
Roan Mountain Citizens Club President Jo Buchanan said the club has been hosting the Rhododendron Festival since it first began. The Citizens Club was first started in 1946 by a group of Roan Mountain businessmen who were concerned about the local economy.
The following year, the first Rhododendron Festival was held to memorialize and help perpetuate the natural flower gardens that grow on Roan Mountain. The Miss Rhododendron Pageant was held every year from 1948 until the mid-1970s. That event was originally held in the Rhododendron Gardens on top of the mountain but was later moved to the state park.
The festival started as a combined effort between citizens of Roan Mountain and a neighboring community in North Carolina, but over the years the festival became a Roan Mountain project and the North Carolina citizens started to host their own festival.
The Rhododendron Festival will have more than 100 arts and crafts and food vendors offering their wares for the visitors’ consideration.
“The festival has a large variety of fine arts and crafts,” Buchanan said. “We have a lot of returning vendors and some new ones. There is always a good selection.”
In addition to the vendors, the festival will have entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and on Sunday afternoon.
Over the past few years, the festival has had an average attendance of more than 20,000 people from all over the Southeastern United States.
They have also come from as far as California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Canada and Scotland.
“We have a very good turnout for our festival,” Buchanan said.
One of the Roan Mountain Citizens Club’s early and most meaningful accomplishments was acquiring a two-lane highway to the top of Roan Mountain.
State Route 143 was completed in 1952. The road to the top was previously a narrow, one-way passage. The state park, accessed by the highway, was created in the 1950s and developed in the 1970s.
Park visitors can enjoy tent or RV camping in the campground or rent one of 30 cabins. The park also features picnic shelters, a swimming pool, tennis courts, children’s play areas and extensive hiking trails.
Trout fishing on the Doe River, which flows through the park, is another highlight. A convention center was built within the park in 2000.
Applications can be found at or by calling 772-3154.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox