Merchants blossom at festival

Published 8:33 am Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden Ronnie and Pat Rader, owners of Gooseberry Patch in Greeneville, took part in their 15th trip to the Rhododendron Festival over the weekend.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Ronnie and Pat Rader, owners of Gooseberry Patch in Greeneville, took part in their 15th trip to the Rhododendron Festival over the weekend.

An economic boom for the Roan Mountain was felt by local businesses, and vendors inside Roan Mountain State Park.
During the 70th anniversary of the Rhododendron Festival, held this weekend, the community felt a tremendous impact of commerce with thousands riding to the top of the mountain, according to Roan Mountain Citizens Club present Brian Tipton.
From buying locally food and items to lodging over the weekend, Carter County received a positive impact for individuals across the United States.
While the county received a boost, so did the Roan Mountain State Park campgrounds.
The record-setting attendance for the festival was complemented with over 130 vendors lined up through the premise.
History of the festival keeps reeling merchants back in, like Ronnie and Pat Radar, owners of Gooseberry Patch in Greeneville.
For 15 years, the arts and crafts booth has set up shop at the festival with high marks from attendees.
Gooseberry Patch features enough for the lover of handmade crafts.
“We do the birdhouses, my husband makes them,” Pat said. “I do all the painting.”
While going through the tent, Pat showcased the different pieces she worked on, including painted Santa faces made from cottonwood trees.
“The birdhouses are also made from sawmill lumber, we buy locally,” Pat added.
“We have a lot of return customers,” Pat said. “A lot of the people buy the birdhouses for gifts.
It’s the small-town atmosphere and staying local that had the allure of bring back the married couple.
“I try to do windows with rhododendrons, but they sold out quick yesterday,” Pat added with a laugh. “This event is so great and we love coming back here each year.”
Different arts and crafts were available to the public this weekend, but the festival saw an increase in food vendors, Tipton said.
New vendors made the trip to Roan Mountain, including the popular Noli Truck food truck from Johnson City. Even with the new additions, the main stays enjoy their time at the state park.
Alexis Chronis is no stranger the area, and the attendees made that apparent. Over the two-day event, individuals lined up around his tent to chow down on what was offered.
“I have a restaurant in Greece,” Chronis said. “I’m here from March until November. I travel to different cities and this is one of my favorite places to come to with my Greek food. We provide authentic food and the people seem to love it.
Chronis travels back to Greece while managing success locally. Even with his roots out of the county, Roan Mountain has become a second home, he said.
“This has become a family place for me,” Chronis added. “The people love my food, and I love the people. I hope I have the good health to come back year after year. I just love it here.”
The development of the festival is a positive for the years to come, Chronis said. Being part of the 70th anniversary added to the hype and he said he can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year.
“Every year, the festival improvements,” he said. “We had the best day yesterday than we’ve had over the past 11 years. I know the (RMCC) will do a good job year after year to bring people back.”

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