Vendors share thoughts from Rhododendron Festival

Published 10:10 am Tuesday, June 20, 2017

For over 70 years, Roan Mountain has been able to provide a vital economic boost for Carter County and across the region.

While businesses see a bit of foot traffic during the weekend of the Rhododendron Festival, small businesses that take part in the festivities have the opportunity to showcase their abilities to a customer base of thousands.

“We’ve had some new food vendors come in, and they’ve done very well,” Roan Mountain Citizens Club President Brian Tipton said. “We’ve had a few new craft vendors … basket makers and different stuff like that. All of the crafts are handmade. But the best thing is the crowd seems to love all the new additions and our regular vendors.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

While regulars continue to experience success, some newer vendors have also enjoyed their experiences at Roan Mountain State Park.

Since retirement, Geri Pierce and James Crawford have looked forward to taking part in the event as a vendor following numerous years of attending as guests.

The duo from Hampton operated the Joc’s Tennessee Handcrafted Leather booth and shared sentiments from their second year at the festival on Sunday.

“We’re close by and there are a lot of nice people,” Pierce said with a smile when asked about why they attended the festival. “The weather’s great. There’s swimming pool on site, you can take walks through the rhododendrons, you can’t beat it.

Crawfords dabbles with leather can crafts various items that are exclusive to the area.

“Everything he does, come straight from the hyde,” Pierce said. Everything is done by hand, individual designs, can’t find anywhere else. There’s a lot of different things. We don’t sell online.”

Crawford also sung the praises of the festival.

“It seems like every year, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “It’s always a great time when we get a chance to come.”

Anyone looking to purchase specially-made leather items can contact the business by calling (423) 297-2367.

While some vendors are within the state, Woo’s Q Brew of Virginia saw a perfect opportunity when looking at different venues to showcase their sauce.

“When I was investigating venues early on, I found out about this event on a festival website,” Mary “Woo” Hartung said Sunday.

While it was the first time at the event for Mary and her husband, Larry, they expressed interest in coming back in the future.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “I’m going tell my daughter. Her fiance and two kids haven’t been camping yet so this is the best spot for them. This state park is amazing.”

Woo’s Q Brew’s barbeque sauce is made of five different region sauces and was heavily popular with attendees. During Sunday’s discussion with the Elizabethton Star, various attendees stopped by the booth to try samples.

For more information on the business, the Hartung’s encourage the public to search Woo’s Q Brew online.