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Erwin board approves expanded schedule for Great Outdoors Festival

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 11, 2019 at 10:53 PM

ERWIN — Erwin’s Great Outdoors Festival is moving off Main Avenue to Union Street and Nolichucky Avenue and adding a Friday night kickoff to its traditional roster of Saturday activities.

On Monday night, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the 2019 festival’s schedule as Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4.

Organized by the RISE Erwin young professionals group to showcase the many outdoor recreational opportunities available in Unicoi County, the festival is now in its fourth year.

Jamie Rice, member of RISE Erwin and community relations coordinator for the town, told the board the festival has grown and organizers are excited to be expanding it to Friday night.

Rice said the festival’s focal point this year will move from Main Avenue to Union Street, where the music stage will be set up in the Mountain Commerce Bank parking lot and a smaller craft beer garden will be set up under a tent inside a fenced area in front of of Union Street Tap Room.

For the Friday night kickoff, Rice said, the new Erwin Outdoors Supply shop set to open this spring will host “a hikers welcome,” with a chilli cookoff to begin around 5:30 or 6 p.m.

Because the festival this year will tie in with the county’s annual Triple Threat triathlon of running, rowing or biking and obstacle course challenges, Nolichucky Avenue will also be closed for Saturday’s activities, beginning at 6:30 or 7 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.

The board approved the schedule and needed road closing by voice vote, with Alderman Michael Baker abstaining. Baker owns the Union Street Tap Room, which will provide beer for the festival’s beer garden.

The board tabled its consideration of a $5,500 allocation for three electrical supply boxes to be installed on Unicoi Street for use by festival vendors.

Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff said the boxes were part of a larger plan for a six electrical boxes to be located on downtown side streets for festival vendors.

Rosenoff said funding for three boxes is available in the town’s capital projects budget, but funding for all six boxes would be more difficult to provide.

Vice Mayor Mark Lafever, who presided over Monday’s meeting in the absence of Mayor Doris Hensley, asked if it would be possible to fund wiring to the three remaining box locations at this time so that the boxes could be installed quickly at a later date.

Town attorney Thomas Seeley Jr. suggested the matter be tabled until the board’s Feb. 25 meeting to allow Rosenoff time to research that cost.

The board approved $4,750 change order to add an irrigation system to the grant-funded renovations currently underway at The Gathering Place park downtown.

Rosenoff said the renovations include a large amount of landscaping that can be better maintained with a watering system. Rosenoff said funding for the system is also available in the town’s capital projects budget.

The board also approved a $44,216 allocation from the town’s 2018 bond series loan for the purchase of a slope mower for the public works department.

Rosenoff said the mower was requested for use on “extreme slope, intense labor” areas along the interstate and the new Linear Trail tunnel.

Lafever said the purchase was part of a broader plan to provide equipment that will move the town forward.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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