Sweet return for Unicoi’s Strawberry Festival includes expanded eligibility and a car show

Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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UNICOI — Vendor registration is now open for the Town of Unicoi’s 18th Annual Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival which will be held Saturday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Unicoi Elementary School. Eligibility requirements have been changed this year and retail vendors will now be allowed to participate alongside the handmade craft vendors. A vintage car show is another new addition planned for the festival’s return, as well as a few smaller surprises.
“We’re looking forward to a brighter year for our events,” said Town of Unicoi Mayor Kathy Bullen. “Pandemic numbers are coming down and vaccine rates are going up, so we’re excited to get back in the swing of things.”
The festival will feature live music and more than 100 vendors including crafters and retailers showcasing items ranging from pottery to soaps, jewelry, home decor and more, and food vendors filling the festival grounds with the sweet smells of delicious local favorites.
Interested vendors should visit ExploreUnicoi.com/events for more information and to download an application. Vendors may also register and pay through the EventBrite platform but will be charged a convenience fee through the platform itself. The registration deadline is May 12.
The East Tennessee Model-A Restorers Club will also be joining the festivities with a vintage car show along the far end of the field where vendor parking was previously located. Vendor parking will be relocated to the front lot of Unicoi Elementary School to make way for two rows of the beautiful antique automotive treasures.
“We’re pretty excited about the car show,” said Communications and Programs Director Ashley Shelton. “We want the festival to have something for everyone and I think this is another step closer to that goal.” 
There is no registration fee to participate in the car show, but interested individuals are asked to contact Mike “Model-A Mac” McIntosh at (423) 743-5085 for more information. Vehicles must be more than 20 years old to qualify.
The festival will also offer plenty of fun for children. The cow train ride will be chugging through the festival at regular intervals and the loading/unloading station has been moved to the Kids’ Inflatable Zone for more accessibility.  The Tennessee National Guard will be joining the Kids Zone this year and will display one of their military vehicles while giving children a chance to test their strength through push-up challenges.
“We know children have had a really rough time being cooped-up during the pandemic,” Shelton said. “So we’re looking for creative ways to expand the offerings in the Kids’ Zone and I think the National Guard will certainly be a neat addition.”
In conjunction with the Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival, Little Miss Southern Sparkle Pageants will once again host the Miss Strawberry Festival Pageant and awards will be presented on the main stage during the festival. Interested individuals may email Valerie Hendrix at director@southernsparklepageant@gmail.com or visit Little Miss Southern Sparkle on Facebook for more information.
As preparations for the festival move forward, coordinators are always on the lookout for new talent. Local musicians interested in playing at the festival may submit their band for consideration to fill spots at either the Strawberry Festival or other town-sponsored events including the Freedom Fest in July. A link to video or audio recording is required for consideration and may be emailed to recreationaide@unicoitn.net with “Performance Request” in the subject line. Prospective bands may also complete an online application at ExploreUnicoi.com/events/strawberry-festival. 
The Town of Unicoi organizes the annual Strawberry Festival and is assisted through sponsorships from local businesses. Festival staff consists of town employees, volunteers and local emergency services. Anyone interested in sponsoring the Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival or volunteering at the event should contact the Tourist Information Center at (423) 735-0517 or email recreationaide@unicoitn.net. Additional information is available online at Facebook.com/TownOfUnicoi/Events or on the town’s website, UnicoiTN.net. Both pages will be updated with the festival map, musical performance schedule and vendor list when released.
For more information, contact Patricia Bennett at (423) 735-0517 or email questions to recreationaide@unicoitn.net.

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