UNICOI — With summertime approaching and strawberry season in full swing, it’s that time of year again in the Town of Unicoi.
The town will hold its annual Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival this Saturday beginning at 10 a.m on the field next to the Unicoi Elementary School. In 2009, the festival was renamed in honor of the late Scott, founder of the Unicoi-based Scott’s Strawberry & Tomato Farms.
For the third straight year, the festival will kickoff with a parade beginning at 9 a.m. The parade will begin near the Unicoi Funeral Home, located on Unicoi Drive, and will travel down Unicoi Drive before veering onto Massachusetts Avenue to get to the school field.
The parade will again showcase a number of area organizations, including the Jericho Temple Shriners and Rolling Thunder. It will also feature the town’s unofficial mascot, Mary the cow, with heifer Annabell. David Browning, who portrays the Mayberry Deputy, will once again make his way to Unicoi to serve as the parade’s marshal.
The opening ceremonies for the festival will begin at 10 a.m., and musical entertainment, which will take place throughout the day, will begin shortly thereafter. Acts this year include the Red Barn Band, Jessica Nixon and River Run, Daisi Rain and The Dandy Lines line dancing group.
The event will also feature a number of arts and crafts and food vendors. These vendors are primarily made up of local non-profit groups and organizations, such as the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center, the Town of Unicoi History Committee, Unicoi United Methodist Church and the Unicoi Ruritan Club. The festival, Lynch said, acts as a fundraiser for many of these organizations.
This year’s Strawberry Festival will also once again feature other attractions, such as rides and inflatables for children, a dunking booth, a pie-throwing event, and a hit and miss engine show throughout the day.
“So there will be something for everyone,” Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said. “And, like I say, we try to keep the hometown, country festival-type theme down there and try to keep it as low-key as we can, just a laid-back, enjoyable event that you can go to, not have any pressure on you, and just enjoy everything.”
The main attraction of the festival is, of course, the strawberries. Vendors will be selling a number of strawberry-related desserts, and festival attendees will have the opportunity to purchase freshly-pcked Scott’s Farm strawberries. From all indications, there will be plenty of strawberries available at this year’s festival, Lynch said.
“The last update I got from the Scotts came yesterday,” Lynch said Tuesday. “They talked to Danny, our maintenance man, and they told him they’ve already picked more berries this year than they picked last year altogether. So evidently, they’re having a real good season.”
Admission to the Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival is free, and Lynch said all are encouraged to attend.
“It’s just a good, old-fashioned festival,” Lynch said. “We’re just glad to be doing it. It’s just a good community event, and we hope that everyone can come out and enjoy it.”
The Unicoi Elementary School is located at 404 Massachusetts Ave. in the town of Unicoi. For more information on the festival, contact Unicoi Town Hall at 743-7162.