30 Oct A New Festival In The Works For Real. Wild. Unicoi County.
What may become one of the region’s premiere outdoor festivals is now in the planning phase by three organizations in Unicoi County. Termed the Tennessee Trails & Tunes Festival, the May 2024 event will celebrate one of the county’s assets for outdoor adventure, the Appalachian Trail, as well as its deep roots in music.
“We’re working with the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce and members of R.I.S.E. to create what we hope will become a festival that will draw visitors from a five-state region,” says Austin Finch, Executive Director of the Unicoi County Economic Development Board. The new festival will add the important element of music to the previously held Great Outdoor Festival in downtown Erwin. “It is a wonderful example of cooperation within the three groups,” Finch says.
The Rejuvenate. Invest. Support. Energize. (R.I.S.E.) is a group of business owners and those interested in promoting the county’s unique assets to build awareness and grow the local economy. The new festival, planned for May 4th, will add to the success of the county’s October Apple Festival that drew more than 100,000 visitors in 2023 by the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce.
“We will continue to celebrate outdoor adventure and welcome hikers along the Appalachian Trail to spend time with us downtown. By adding music to the mix, we will encourage greater attendance while maintaining our focus on Unicoi County’s position as the leader in outdoor adventure,” Finch explains. The latest economic figures released by the Tennessee Department of Tourism shows that in tourism spending in Unicoi County contributes more than $18 million annually to the county’s economy and generates $1.8 million in state and local taxes. Without the benefit of tourism in the county resident would have to pay an additional $240 each year on their own local taxes.
Current plans are to erect two music stages in Erwin’s downtown. There will be a kid’s zone that will include a petting zoo, inflatables, archery instruction and more. A food zone and an art zone along with fun, interactive activities in the outdoor zone of the festival. There visitors can engage in axe throwing, climb a rock wall and try their hand at kayaking in a demonstration pool.
“We’re in the early stages of planning the event, so there can be even more news about the event released in the coming months,” says Finch. “Our planning group shares the vision for making it one of the premier events in a multi-state region, so we are optimistic and focused in having another great event in our county.”