A celebration of springtime in the mountains and the many outdoor recreation opportunities the region has to offer, the festival will feature a diverse variety of interactive activities for nature lovers of all ages.
Set for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the roster will include a catch-and-release trout pool for kids and a fly casting pool for older anglers, an archery range with instructors from the Appalachian Christian Camp on Buffalo Mountain, a paddle board pool from USA Raft and live demonstrations of the birds of prey from Bay Mountain Park.
There will be a petting zoo, a climbing wall and a pellet gun range for kids, a greenhouse plant sale for gardeners, an outdoor-themed craft bazaar, food trucks and a beer garden for those in need of a moment to sit and soak it all in.
Trout Unlimited will be showing its world touring International Fly Fishing Film Festival at 2:30 p.m at Capitol Cinema on North Main Avenue. And an all-day lineup of live music will be performed from the festival’s outdoor stage.
The music will start at 11 a.m with Grateful Dead classics by Ripple. Folk Soul Revival will play at 1 p.m followed by the the Unicoi County High School Bluegrass Band at 3 p.m. and the alternative folk band Annabelle’s Curse at 4:30.
The festival’s headliners 49 Winchester — a regular at Bristol’s annual Rhythm and Roots Festival — will wrap up the day’s entertainment with its Appalachian folk, country and blues performance starting at 6.
The Great Outdoors Festival will also feature a variety of hiker-friendly activities, including free chair massages for Appalachian Trail travelers who will be making their way through Unicoi County en route to the annual Trail Days gathering coming up later in just a few weeks in Damascus, Virginia.
Jamie Rice, president of the RISE Erwin professional group, which organizes the festival, said the hope is that the AT hikers will come down from the trail for a taste of Erwin hospitality during the Great Outdoors Festival and spread the word about the little town along the trail when they go.
The May 5 festival will also mark the arrival of a new herd of baby elephant statues on the streets Erwin.
In a continuation of RISE Erwin Trunk Project that last year raised more than $8,000 for the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, eight new baby elephant statues uniquely painted by a local artists will make their debut at the festival before being placed on temporary display throughout the town.
Like their predecessors, Rice said the statues will later be auctioned away, but this year will benefit not only the elephant sanctuary but the nonprofit organizations of the sponsors’ choice.
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