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Great Outdoors Festival exceeds expectations

Sue Guinn Legg • May 6, 2018 at 3:41 AM

ERWIN — With a little help from Mother Nature, Saturday’s Great Outdoors Festival in downtown Erwin turned out to be the most successful in the festival’s three-year run.

The 80 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms forecast for the day held off until late in the afternoon and organizers reported well over 2,000 people had made their way through town to take in the festival’s many outdoor activities, vendors and attractions.

“We’ve had a wonderful turnout, several thousand,” said Kristin Anders, a member of the RISE Erwin young professional group, which organizes the festival.

“The band lineup was great. The animals were a big hit. The kids loved the fishing. Here in the Kid’s Zone, it was really a joy to see the kids of our community enjoying all our free activities.”

Rainbow trout from the Erwin National Fish Hatchery were stocked in four catch-and-release pools provided by Bass Pro Shops of Bristol.

Bass Pro Shops and Evergreen Church volunteers helped the kids get their lines into the water, reporting that the fish were biting well early in the day, but became more difficult to land as the afternoon went on. By evening, Anders said, all the trout would be released into area streams.

Bays Mountain Park Ranger Bob Culler brought several of the park's birds of prey to the festival, including Whoo-dini the Great Horned Owl and Wags the Red-tailed Hawk, and  kept crowds gathered around to hear stories of the birds’ abilities and how they came to live at Bays Mountain.

Trout Unlimited’s International Fly Fishing Film Festival’s afternoon playing at Capitol Cinema brought the more-serious anglers indoors for a couple hours.

And the festival’s all-day lineup of live musical performances kept the food court hopping right up until the first drops of rain and rumbles of thunder rolled in.

All in all, Anders said, “It’s been a wonderful day. We could not be more pleased.”

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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