For the last 20 years, the Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day has brought visitors and East Tennessee natives together to celebrate fall and the Appalachian heritage that is still alive today in the Great Smoky Mountains. Scheduled for September 28-29, at the Townsend Visitors Center, the heritage festival provides an atmosphere where family and friends can partake in time-honored Appalachian music, crafts, food and other activities unique to this mountain region.
“The festivals provide a glimpse into our regional heritage, which can be an entertaining experience for locals and visitors alike,” said Carolyn Roach, chair of the 2012 Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day. “It’s a special event that has shared Appalachian life, heritage and culture for two decades, and it truly exudes the personality of the region that makes the Smoky Mountains so special.”
An event for all ages, the heritage festival will focus on traditional and contemporary bluegrass and mountain music; along with traditional dances, such as clogging and square dancing; art and craft booths; numerous Appalachian demonstrations; old-fashioned kids’ games; Southern food, such as BBQ and kettle corn.
Additionally, this year’s heritage festival will feature free Wi-Fi access on the festival grounds, as well as a free shuttle service to transport festival visitors to and from various places throughout Townsend. The shuttle’s stops include the Townsend Visitors Center, Trillium Cove, the Little River Railroad and the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center.
Music and Dancing
There are scheduled musical performances on-stage, as well as numerous impromptu jam sessions in all areas of the festival grounds wherever musicians gather. Visitors are welcome and encouraged to bring lawn chairs to sit back, relax and enjoy the music all day on September 28 and 29. Clogging will also take place in front of the stage as a perfect complement to the toe-tapping sounds of bluegrass and mountain music. Festival-goers will have a chance to partake in clogging lessons.
A tradition of the annual heritage festival is to highlight and showcase music with Appalachian roots. This year’s festival will present the unique sounds and musical talent of bands, including Appalachian Bluegrass, Blue Streaks, Carolina Bluegrass, Chatooga Ridge, Jay Tipton Band, Larry Hobbs & Company, Lonesome Road Bluegrass, Mike Clemmer, Notchey Creek, Pleasant Valley Boys, South of the River Boys, Steve Jordan & L.B., and Thankful Heart.
Art, Crafts and Appalachian Demonstrations
The festival grounds will showcase numerous art and craft booths, and local artisans will be demonstrating their talents while visitors watch. Traditional Appalachian demonstrations will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Among the many unique demonstrations will be cornmeal making and oak shingle making. Visitors will get a feel of Smoky Mountain heritage and learn the area’s history by observing the talent and skill of these artisans and craftsmen.
In addition, visitors will have the chance to walk through a replica of an old Appalachian church. The church replica at this year’s festival will be sponsored by Chilhowee Area Ministries.
Storytelling and Local Authors
Local storytellers will educate and entertain visitors at this year’s heritage festival. They will delight festival-goers of all ages with mountain stories that will paint a picture of Appalachian heritage.
The heritage festival’s featured author is Roy Oliver. Oliver will hold a book signing for his book, Last Man from Tremont, on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day, Sept. 28-29, takes place on the grounds of the Townsend Visitors Center, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, in Townsend, Tn. The event is free and family-oriented. Pets are no longer permitted on the festival grounds; and this will be strictly enforced for the health and safety of both people and pets.
Festival sponsors include Knoxville Coca-Cola, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, Townsend IGA, The Daily Times, WIVK Radio, and Keep Blount Beautiful.
For more information on the Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day, including updates on the schedule, please call the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority at 800 525-6834 or 865 448-6134 or visit smokymountains.org or smokymountainfestivals.org.