“I’m kind of new to this,” festival director Caroline Abercrombie said. “Last year was my first year being on the board. I wanted to see what I could do for the community and was surprised with how energizing it is.”
She revealed that an American Sign Language interpreter will work beside the main stage on Saturday from 5-10 p.m., and more handicapped parking and seating will be available. The Kids’ Zone will also return with inflatables, and a Ferris wheel will be back on site for a third year.
The rides and food will come at a price, but the Blue Plum won’t charge an entrance fee and will offer free parking at the Northeast State Community College parking garage on Buffalo Street the entire weekend.
“As usual, the Blue Plum is family-friendly,” Abercrombie said. “There’s going to be hands-on activities sponsored by the public library, firefighters and the McKinney Center. Pretty much, the entire festival is free unless you want to drink beer or purchase from one of the 51 vendors. It really does take a village to put on a music festival.”
Free events will include live entertainment from such popular bands as Big Daddy Love, The Hip Abduction, Honey Island Swamp Band and The Dustbowl Revival. The festival also will have a local flavor from such musicians as Ed Snodderly, Seth Thomas, Daniel Couper Band, Momma Molasses and Doctor Ocular.
Dancers who wish to jam to their own rhythm can join in on the silent disco, which the festival will host both nights. Between jam sessions and surging the dance floors, festival-goers can grab a bite at food vendors who promote both American favorites and international flavors.
This year’s Blue Plum 5K race moves to Saturday morning with a modified, faster course. Beginning in Founders Park, the adult run will start at 8, and the Little Plum Dash for kids 12 and under will begin at 9.
Abercrombie attributed the array of options to the Blue Plum’s many sponsors and the community. She said without others’ commitment to the annual project, it wouldn’t have become such a popular Johnson City festivity.
“The community really stepped up,” she said. “Vendors continue to come back every year. It’s nice for so many people to pitch in to make it enjoyable.”
The Blue Plum festival is still searching for more volunteers to help over the course of the weekend. Anyone interested in assisting can sign up on the Blue Plum’s website and pick out which four-hour shift to work. All volunteers will receive a free T-shirt and food.
“The reason the Blue Plum has grown so much is because of the big community and volunteer response,” Abercrombie said. “So, this growth is to be expected.”
Friday’s festivities will begin at 4 p.m., and Saturday’s recreation will start at 7 a.m. with the Farmer’s Market at the pavilion in front of Founders Park.