Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival
The Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival will give you a glimpse into the storied Appalachian tradition of fiber arts and crafts, from sheep to sweater. Come try your hand at Border collie sheep-herding or sheep-shearing, sit in on classes and workshops, and marketplace of vendors, and art exhibits. Hands-on, educational demonstrations of fiber arts processes, such as spinning, weaving, needlecrafts and dyeing will take place for all ages to enjoy. 800.525.6834. April 19-20, Smoky Mountain Visitors Center at Townsend, Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, and other locations.
Outdoor Knox Fest brings together outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes to swap stories and get into the urban wilderness. The weekend-long festival will feature hikes, bike rides, trail runs, boat trips for paddlers, a disc golf clinic, and a range of other workshops and events for outdoorsy types of all ages. The program is not only a celebration of outdoor life, but also a fundraiser for the Legacy Parks Foundation, a group looking to make East Tennessee the southeast’s recreational destination. outdoorknoxville.com or 865.525.2585. April 19-21, Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center, Knoxville, Tenn.
Cherokee Summer Kickoff Trout Tournament
Anglers take note, for just $11 you can try your hand at the Cherokee Summer Kickoff Trout Tournament. The Cherokee Indian Reservation, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is also home to miles of pristine fishing, and this weekend, $10,000 in tagged fish will be poured into the reservations rivers, redeemable for prizes from $20 to $500. All ages and (legal) fishing methods are welcome, so grab your waders and tackle and throw out your line in the beautiful Cherokee mountains. fishcherokee.com. April 26-28, Cherokee Indian Reservation, Cherokee, N.C.
Townsend in the Smokies
Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival and Old Timers Day celebrates its 21st birthday this year, with a two-day fete dedicated to Appalachian history and culture. Bluegrass concerts and jam sessions will be in plentiful supply, with the Young Pickers Talent Contest as a highlight. For those inspired to take a turn around the dance floor, you can also catch performances from talented regional cloggers. Other aspects of Appalachia will be on display, including wildflower walks, storytelling, arts and craft demonstrations such as cast iron cooking savory Southern barbecue. It’s great opportunity for hands-on experiences of Smoky Mountain heritage. smokymountainfestivals.org or 800.525.6834. May 3-4, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Smoky Mountain Visitors Center at Townsend, Townsend, Tenn.
Damascus Trail Days
Each year, locals celebrate with Damascus Trail Days, a three-day festival homage to the trails, the town and the Appalachians. There will, of course, be plenty of hiking and biking for all skill levels, workshops and classes, camping, a parade, vendors, culinary offerings and music from Sons of Bluegrass, The Contrarians, Brother Gravity and The Farmhouse Ghost and even a trout rodeo. traildays.us. May 17-19 in Damascus, Va.
Smoky Mountain Highland Games
A lauded mountain tradition, Highland games have been drawing crowds to the Smokies to honor the region’s Scottish heritage, listen to a bagpipe or two, and welcome the summer by watching some good old fashioned feats of strength. The East Tenneessee incarnation, Smoky Mountain Highland Games, will provide traditional Scottish music and fare along with the chance to learn about the ancient clans that come together for the games. Then of course there’s the games themselves, dancing, a dog show, balladeers, and let’s not forget, a wide variety of Scotch to aid the enjoyment. smokymountaingames.com or 865.448.6134. May 17-19, Maryville College, Maryville, Tenn.
Tennessee HOG Rally
At the Tennessee HOG Rally, 2,500 riders are expected to come together in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains for food, fun and entertainment, and to enjoy some of the areas challenging and fun motorcycle routes. tnstatehogrally.com or 615.255.3442. May 28-June 1, Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson, Maryville, Tenn.
Swain County Heritage Festival
Mountain music styles merge at the Swain County Heritage Festival, where old-time gospel, classic country, bluegrass and more blend with clogging, Indian hoop dancing and a plethora of local arts, crafts and can even you can test your lumberjack prowess at a log-sawing contest. greatsmokies.com. May 24-25, Riverfront Park, Bryson City, N.C.
Secret City Festival
Oak Ridge, Tenn. and its storied history are the focus of the Secret City Festival, a two-day event that highlights the town’s role in ending World War II and the role it played in ending World War II. Historic displays walking through the town’s past and period living history demonstrations will please the history buffs, while tours of original Manhattan Project sites, including the Graphite Reactor and the Y-12 National Security Complex, will enteratin almost anyone. A full lineup of kid-friendly activites such as a petting zoo, water slide, rock climbing and more will be on hand for younger patrons. Like any good festival, you can also find arts and crafts vendors, antiques, food, music all day and 9 p.m. headliners. secretcityfestival.com or 865.425.3610. June 21-22, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Northeast Georgia Arts Tour
Meet over 100 local artists-painters, potters, jewelry makers, fiber, glass, metal artists and more – and see them bring their craft to life at the Northeast Georgia Arts Tour. This multi-county self-driving art tour covers four north Georgia counties – Habersham, White, Rabun and Towns – and galleries and artisans across the region swing their studio doors open to visitors for a weekend in June. www.artstour.org. June 7-9, Northeast Georgia.
Appalachian Lifestyle Celebration
The Downtown Waynesville Association’s third annual Appalachian Lifestyle Celebration showcases traditional mountain craft, food, and entertainment. Demonstrators will showcase Appalachian art and crafts like basket making, blacksmithing, quilting, weaving, pottery, wood working and painting. Also featured are Appalachian life skills such as lumberjacking, butter churning, soap making, storytelling, native plants, and food preservation. Saturday, June 8, in downtown Waynesville, NC. 828.456.3517 or www.downtownwaynesville.com.
Taste of Scotland
If you’re still yearning for all things Scottish during the lull between Highland games, look to downtown Franklin for Taste of Scotland weekend. You’ll find traditional Scottish entertainment, clans, authentic Scottish foods, music and dancing in addition to Pipe & Drum bands, a parade, Border Collie demonstrations, crafts, a shortbread contest, children’s Highland games and many other contests. tasteofscotlandfestival.org or 727.424.890. June 13-16, downtown Franklin, N.C.
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
The granddaddy of all Highland games, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, is celebrating its 58th year with everything that’s made it famous over the last five decades. Set atop the iconic mountain in full summer bloom, the sprawling festival taps the deep Scottish roots of Western North Carolina with tasty food and drink, handcrafts and demonstrations, highland dancing, pipe and drum and bagpipe tunes, kilts as far as the eye can see, and of course, the legendary games. From the caber toss, where competitors try to sling logs the size of trees, to children’s highland wrestling—really—from dance to fiddle, there are a multitude of competitions in the art and athletics of being Scottish. And for the thousands more who just come to watch, the experience alone will let you walk away feeling like a true Scotsman. For more information, visit gmhg.org or call 828.733.1333. July 11-14.
Folk Life Festival
Take a step back to the roots of Appalachia at the Folk Life Festival, where heritage arts like spinning, candle dipping and blacksmithing come back to life. Concerts will feature Traditional Appalachian and old time mountain music and visitors can get a taste of mountain skill displays, old fashion games and some community dancing. georgiastateparks.org or 800.573.9659. July 26-27, Unicoi State Park, Helen, Ga.