Bigger and better: Mountain City Sunflower Festival expands its footprint
By Dan Cullinane
The Mountain City Sunflower Festival, an annual celebration of the Appalachian spirit through arts, crafts, food and music, returns to Main Street on July 17, and it’s bigger than ever.
“The county has always been 110% behind the Sunflower Festival,” said Renee Profitt, co-organizer with Misste Phillipi of the annual street fair. “There is so much talent all over the Appalachians, and I am so grateful that we can introduce it to everyone who has been patiently waiting to take advantage of it.”
Lots of talent, that’s for sure. Almost double the number of craft vendors and food stalls, nonprofits and live performers means this year’s festival will not end at the courthouse but will expand to one end of the main street to the other. “Our biggest year, we had 100 suppliers,” Profitt said of the expansion. “This year, we have over 175 suppliers and we are fully booked. “
Wide distribution in the eastern Tennessee area has paid off, and artisans from as far away as Knoxville will showcase pottery, jewelry, woodworking, metal crafts, soaps, candles, t-shirts and other handcrafted items to enthusiastic shoppers on Saturday. Pop-up boutiques including Vintage and Vogue and Abingdon General Store will be set up along Main Street, while local service organizations including The Hometown Service Coalition, The Pregnancy Crisis Center and Partnership for Stronger Communities will be on hand to talk about their important work.
“You must be hungry,” Profitt said of the 19 record-breaking food vendors this year.
Local favorite Monsoons will serve up Mel’s legendary spring rolls and wontons for the first time, and food truck Phenom, Hungarian Sausage King and Appalachian Beauty will have a huge presence of their signature items. Of course, no street fair would be complete without Rick Norris’ Kettle-Licious, where Profitt will stop first for a bag of kettle corn.
Musicians, starting with Johnson County’s Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) and ending with Abingdon’s Yates family band, will perform on the porch of the former Family Prescription Center. Local Favorite Classic Highway will rock the streets, and Kingsport’s Twirling Twins will perform acrobatic feats along the Main, where the Allen Lipford Memorial Show of Cars, Trucks and Bikes will also stretch end to end.
Kids can head to the Fun Zone, sponsored by Parkdale Mills, and enter the Mr. and Miss Sunflower pageant which is held on the courthouse lawn. Profitt gives a lot of credit to the 18 local sponsors who make the festival possible.
“We need things for our community to do. For our children to do. And we’re so lucky to have good people in this county willing to put stuff like that.
The Sunflower Festival starts at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday July 17 and continues until 4:00 p.m.