70th annual Rhododendron Festival set for weekend

Published 9:01 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

File Photo/Bryce Phillips Visitors of last year's Rhododendron Festival enjoy live music from one of the many bands that played during the event.

File Photo/Bryce Phillips
Visitors of last year’s Rhododendron Festival enjoy live music from one of the many bands that played during the event.

A timeless tradition in Roan Mountain is set to blossom this weekend.
The Roan Mountain Citizens Club is putting on the final touches to present 70th annual Rhododendron Festival scheduled for June 18-19 at Roan Mountain State Park.
“This is definitely a milestone,” said Kelsey Tipton, who works with Roan Mountain State Park as part of the Citizens Club. “Having an event that has happened over 70 years says a lot about the interest and the amount of work put in by the Roan Mountain community.”
Roan Mountain Citizens Club has been the sponsor for the event every year, helping orchestrate the multiple activities while assisting the community, with each just serving as volunteers, Tipton said.
The allure of the 70th anniversary has already caught the eyes of tourists. Tipton, who works in the state park, mentioned that living quarters offered at the facility are at max capacity for the tourists.
“You see all the different tags on the cars from different states,” she added. “All the cars coming through the area … it is a great thing for Roan Mountain.”
Donna McKinney, a worker with the park for 23 years, added it has been one of the busiest times of the year already in 2016.
With one of, if not the, largest crowds expected for this year, Tipton said that attendees will have their hands full with the activities offered at the event.
“This year we’re maxed out on vendors,” she added of the 160 vendors. “People will have their fill on the different arts and crafts vendors available.”
There has been an increase in food vendors, too, according to Tipton.
“One of the vendors we’re excited about is Noli Truck,” she said. “They have such a following in Johnson City and we would love to see some of that for this year’s event.”
Festivities on Saturday get underway at 9 a.m. and last until 5 p.m., with different musical performers taking the stage. The afternoon will feature the Citizens as they host a scholarship ceremony. The group provides financial opportunities for schools with money raised for the festival.
Along with a busy night that is headlined by Siam Symphony playing at 4 p.m., Tipton encourages individuals to stop by at noon, when a ‘special guest’ will take the stage.
“I can’t say who,” she said. “But we got it finalized today.”
Sunday’s portion of the event starts at 10 a.m. and will last until 5 p.m. with Greater Glory taking the main stage. Different events taking place include honoring past Rhododendron Queens.
“This is such a big time of the year for us,” McKinney said. “We have so many people coming through to see the rhododendrons. It’s such a busy time of the year for the area and a huge impact for our local economy.”
A schedule for both days can be found at roanmountain.com/rhododendron-festival online. For further information, contact the state park at 423-772-3303.

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