Discover Festival Season – Taste, Listen, Experience, Enjoy!
The 9 Lakes Region is your festival destination in late spring and early summer. In every county, you will find events celebrating the music, foods, and arts of East Tennessee. Go on a cultural tour of the 9 Lakes, and sample the variety of events and adventures waiting for you.
Taste Appalachian cuisine is defined by locally found foods native to the region and these same native foods were introduced to early pioneers by the indigenous Cherokee people. The pungent spring ramps were an important food staple for early settlers, used as a spring tonic after a winter of deprivation. There are two festivals featuring ramps in the region. On April 21, the annual Ballplay Ruritan Ramp Festival in Tellico Plains will be serving up ramps, fried potatoes, streaked meat, pinto beans, and cornbread. A second ramp serving will be held on May 11 when the Annual Newport Kiwanis Ramp Festival will provide another opportunity to taste a traditional ramp meal served up with sides of music and local crafts. The event is being held at the Cocke County Fairgrounds.
An important cottage industry of early settlers was the making of wine and cider. Prohibition effectively ended the “spirits” industry in East Tennessee, but a revival of wine and cider production over the past several years is creating an economy of local vineyards and award winning wines. The Nine Lakes Wine Festival is a celebration of Tennessee’s best wines produced in the 9 Lakes region! The event features more than 100 wines and craft ciders from 20 Tennessee wineries! Plus you’ll enjoy live entertainment and great small plate foods as well. Chat with winemakers in one of our many free wine seminars throughout the day. The May 17-19 event is held at Melton Hill Lake Park in Oak Ridge.
Listen– Music is known as a universal language and very much celebrated in the 9 Lakes. The music of Appalachia influenced many genres of modern music in America. Traditional bluegrass and gospel is the focus of the Townsend Spring Festival to be held on May 4 and 5. The festival serves to honor the history of roots music and honors the history of the region.
On May 20, the traditions of Appalachia are celebrated at the annual Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival in Wartburg. Each spring, the town square hosts a display of traditional Appalachian fare, music, and arts. The festival features guided hiking tours to view the beautiful blooming laurel in nearby Obed Scenic River National Recreation Area. Wartburg is the only trail town on Tennessee’s first linear state park, The Cumberland Trail, a scenic footpath crossing 11 counties in Tennessee. Tie up your shoes or bring your kayak; a day in Wartburg is an outdoor adventure!
Music also brings visitors to the City of Oak Ridge’s annual Secret City Festival. Along with national headlining bands, the festival celebrates the diversity of the community’s- history, people, and future. It is not surprising that the event boasts a schedule that includes a robotic competition alongside a juried arts show. The Secret City’s rich history has created a community that has been shaping the future of this country for many, many years. The June 8 and 9 festival will be held in A.K. Bissell Park in Oak Ridge.
Experience– Early settlers to the 9 Lakes brought their native traditions, foods, music and mores to the region, and these customs began merging with other settler’s customs, such as the Germans, Swiss, and Africans slaves, into what is now called Appalachian Culture. The Scots-Irish were the largest in-migration during the 18th century settlements of this new frontier. Each May, Maryville is home to the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games, one of the oldest Scottish Festivals in the country. This May 19-20, event is a premier celebration of Scottish culture and history.
Another unique festival to experience is the annual Medieval Faire held the last 2 weekends of May and the first weekend of June. A medieval fair is a community street festival honoring tradition, pageantry, and customs of the Anglo Saxon people who celebrated spring markets and “maying” after the long days of winter. Games, entertainment, crafts, music, and food are all part of the event are all part of the magical village hosted in Harriman on May 19, 20, 26, 27, 28 and June 3-4.
Enjoy– The Bike, Boat, Bark and Brews is a 2 day festival on June 2 and 3 celebrating the vibrancy and recreation of downtown Knoxville. In addition to hike and bike, pet and craft beer activities, the weekend line-up includes the Visit Knoxville Powerboat Classic, featuring some of the fastest Super league Race boats in the world racing on the Tennessee River. Vendor crafts and booths will be set up at Volunteer Landing on the river.
With so much to do, you will want to schedule that extra day to RELAX!