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On the Roan again: Rhododendron Festival returns this weekend

June 18th, 2014 11:50 am by Staff Report

On the Roan again: Rhododendron Festival returns this weekend

ROAN MOUNTAIN — One of the region’s oldest festivals will be held this weekend, as the Roan Mountain Citizens Club presents the 68th Annual Rhododendron Festival.

The event will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Roan Mountain State Park. Admission is free and the festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

This year’s festival will feature new musical acts and new arts and craft vendors displaying their handcrafted items.

The entertainment gets started promptly at 10 a.m. on Saturday with an open mike. The Roan Mountain Moonshiners had originally been set to entertain on Saturday morning, but have had to cancel their appearance due to sickness. Thistle Dew will perform at 11 a.m. Dividing Ridge will begin at noon. From 1-2 p.m. it will be Bass Brake. Following Bass Brake, the announcement will be made of the scholarship award to worthy Cloudland High School graduates. Proceeds from the festival go to the funding of the scholarship.

Following the awarding of the scholarship, Art and Cathy will take the stage.

Chickory Jam is set to begin at 3 p.m. and Tammy and Rick will close out the first day of entertainment, starting at 4 p.m.

On Sunday, things begin with an open mike from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for any gospel entertainer. From 1-2 it is the Young Family. From 2-3 it will be the Joyful Noise Handbell Choir. At 4 p.m. there will be another open mike for any gospel entertainer.

The Citizens Club will be raising money for its scholarship program by holding mini auctions between performances. The items for sale have been donated by vendors and local businesses.

In addition, the Citizens Club will raise money through its own tent. Items the club are selling this year include a newly designed festival t-shirt featuring the music of the area for $12; festival hats for $8; Citizens Club cookbooks or $10; license plate tags for $8 and ice cold Pepsi products for $1.

Emma Ruth Shomaker said the club also uses proceeds to make donations to the Roan Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, the two Cloudland public schools, Christmas in the Village events and dinner for the Overmountain Men during their annual stay at the Sheltering Rock on their passage to King’s Mountain National Battlefield.

Shomaker said there are about 60 arts and craft vendors, bringing many talented people to the festival. There are about 20 food vendors.

There will be several new vendors this year, including an artist from Cherokee, N.C., who makes dreamcatchers and other carvings from wood.

Some of the local vendors include the Roan Mountain Young Outdoorsman, who make bird houses and other crafts, a hot wax blower, and several vendors selling homemade items such as jams, jelly, honey, soaps and scents.

Among the local food vendors is a man who makes wood-fired pizzas and a woman who will be at the festival on Sunday selling all kinds of produce, including heirloom tomatoes such as Cherokee red and German pink tomatoes.

Shomaker said author Robert Sorrell will be selling and autographing his new book on Roan Mountain, which was released on Monday.

The festival was started by the Citizens Club in 1947 and scheduled for the third week in June to celebrate the peak time for the annual blooming of the Catawba rhododendron on top of the Roan at over 6,000 feet in elevation. The mountain is said to have the largest growth of Catawba rhododendron in the world.

For the first two decades, the festival was held at the top of the mountain. After the state park was established, the club began holding the festival there.

Just because the festival is no longer held in the rhododendron gardens doesn’t mean the average festival goer doesn’t drive to the top of the mountain to get a glimpse of the splendid blooms.

Shomaker said prognosticators say the rhododendron reached their peak last weekend at 5,500-foot Carvers Gap. This weekend should be the peak time for the rhododendron in the gardens.

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