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Townsend Spring Festival showcases Appalachian history, culture, Smoky Mountain backdrop

TOWNSEND, TN – The foothills of the Smoky Mountains come to life with bluegrass music, arts and crafts, time honored traditions and Appalachian cooking at the annual Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival.

  townsend spring festival
Townsend Spring Festival. Image by Jeaneane Payne

Scheduled for May 4-5, 2018, the Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival provides an atmosphere where family and friends of all ages can partake in time-honored Appalachian traditions at the free community event. The festival is held at at the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy in Townsend. Parking is $10 per day with proceeds benefiting the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department. Two-day parking passes are available at the Visitors Center for $15.

For everyone’s convenience, a free shuttle service provides transportation to and from the different Townsend sites participating in the weekend’s festivities from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm both days.

“The spring festival provides an opportunity for our community to share the area’s history and heritage with families, friends and visitors. We all cherish our traditions, and there is no better way to celebrate them than to showcase them during the beautiful spring weather at the festival,” said Jim McBride, festival chair.

An event for all ages, the spring festival will feature traditional and contemporary bluegrass and mountain music; clogging and square dancing; art and craft booths; numerous Appalachian demonstrations; old-fashioned kids’ games; and Southern food, such as fried pies and kettle corn.

In addition to all that will be taking place at the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center in Townsend, the Tennessee Pottery Festival at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (123 Cromwell Dr.) will be on May 5.

Festival-goers can also take the opportunity to enjoy an interactive walking tour featuring a full-sized engine, coal and water tank at the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum, as well as a unique shopping experience at Townsend’s downtown – Trillium Cove.

Whether you are searching for an Appalachian piece of artwork for your home, hungry for some delicious barbeque or just looking to enjoy the many bluegrass performances, there is just about something for everyone to enjoy at this special two-day event.

Music and Dancing
On Friday and Saturday from 11:30 am until after 9:00 pm, musical performances are scheduled on stage inviting locals and visitors to bring lawn chairs from home and sit back, relax and enjoy the toe-tapping, mountain tunes. Bluegrass music will also resonate from impromptu jam sessions in all areas of the festival grounds. Festival-goers will have the opportunity to enjoy an evening square dance on Saturday at 8:10 pm.

A tradition of the annual spring festival is to highlight and showcase music with Appalachian roots. This year’s festival will present the unique sounds and musical talent of bands, including Notchy Creek, Jay Tipton Band, Carolina Bluegrass, Hot Water, Wilson Family, Blackberry Jam, High Point Quartet, Steve Jordan Band, Jones Brothers, Mike Clemmer, Gravel Road, Lost in Tyme, Saving Grass, Muleskinners, Blue Streaks, Appalachian Drive, and Raven Welch.

Arts, Crafts and Appalachian Demonstrations
The festival grounds will showcase numerous art and craft booths, and local artisans will be demonstrating their talents while visitors watch. Among the many unique demonstrations will be cornmeal making, antique farm equipment, raptors and apple and peach butter making.

In addition, visitors will have the chance to experience the area’s natural history at the Cades Cove Preservation and walk through a replica of an old Appalachian church. The church replica at this year’s festival will be sponsored by Chilhowee Area Ministries (CHARM).

Storytelling and Local Authors
Local storytellers will educate and entertain visitors of all ages at this year’s spring festival, delighting them with mountain stories that will paint a picture of Appalachian heritage.

The spring festival’s featured author is Roy Oliver, author of Last Man from Tremont. He will hold signings on Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival, May 4-5, 2018, takes place on the grounds of the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center in Townsend, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway. The event is free and family oriented. Pets are no longer permitted on the festival grounds; and this will be strictly enforced for the health and safety of both people and pets.

Festival sponsors include Wild Laurel Golf Course, The Chocolate Bar, The Daily Times, WATE-TV, Big Meadow Campground & RV, Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, Carriage House Restaurant and Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing.

For more information on the Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival and Old Timers Day, including updates on the schedule, please visit The event is sponsored by Wild Laurel Golf Course, The Chocolate Bar, The Daily Times, WATE-TV, Big Meadow Campground & RV, Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, Carriage House Restaurant and Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing.

About Blount County, Tennessee
Blount County, Tennessee is located just south of Knoxville at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The communities that make up Blount County—Townsend, Maryville, Alcoa, Friendsville, Louisville and Rockford – provide visitors with an abundance of outdoor activities, attractions and regular celebrations of the region’s rich Appalachian heritage and culture. Blount County is also home to the nation’s most visited national park—the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

For more information about Blount County, please contact the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority at 800-525-6834 or visit Follow the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority and

If you are in the area, please stop in to the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center at Townsend, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, or the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center at Maryville, located at 201 South Washington Street, for more information.

Published April 13, 2018

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