27th Annual Newport Harvest Street Festival
NEWPORT – When thousands of folks gather on the streets of Downtown Newport the first weekend in October, organizers hope they will enjoy the traditions that have helped make the Newport Harvest Street Festival the ” best community festival.” Long-standing favorites like arts and crafts, regional food and drink, beauty pageants and old-timey demonstrations are just a few of the showcased activities that have returned year after year. The festival committee continually looks for ways to expand and improve the ever-changing festival, while still paying homage to the culture and heritage of the area.
The festival began in 1986 when then-Chamber of Commerce director Richard Parrott gathered a group of folks to create the festival as one of the “Tennessee Homecoming” celebrations. Tennessee Homecoming was a state-wide, year-long celebration providing communities the opportunity to rediscover the past, identify their uniqueness and to celebrate it.
In the late 1980s, Bettye Carver, along with her team of more than 32 volunteers, chaired the project for the next decade. Those celebrations had a definite hometown flair featuring local artists and crafters and musicians, downtown history and even a talent show.
In the late 1990s the Newport/Cocke County Chamber of Commerce again took over the reins and expanded the festival by adding commercial booths and creating the popular ” Kiddie Land.”
“We think this will be the best festival ever,” said Cocke County Partnership Chamber of Commerce Director Valerie Fancher. “More than 100 artisans and crafters will be displaying their wares. We are happy to have some of our “old friends” returning and some unique new vendors joining us.
“Children will once again be able to take a ride around the festival on the ever-popular Kiwanis Train,” she continued. “ Our beauty pageant is “new and improved” with scholarship money from Aaron’s and Kiddie Land will be back with several new inflatables !”
Bluegrass Band Mountain Edge will once again headline the Courthouse Jam at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“Mountain Edge has such a following,” said Tourism Director Linda Lewanski,” and deservedly so. We invite folks to bring their lawn chairs to the parking lot at the Courthouse and enjoy two hours of some fantastic toe-tappin’ bluegrass music.
“We hope folks will come early, enjoy the festival’s food court and step back in time with us on the Main Street side of the Courthouse . Our Old Timey activities will include a jam session, organized by the Tourism Council’s David McClary, Brenda and JD Wilburn will demonstrate clothes washing and corn shucking, Keep Cocke County Beautiful will host a “Grandma’s Attic” with reusable and recyclable treasures and the East Tennessee Overhill Cherokee Descendants will present traditional drumming, dancing, singing and crafts. Wood carving artist Eugene Orick and knife maker Rick Ramsey, back by popular demand, will demonstrate their art.”
And new this year is the Tourism Council sponsored play “Sunset is Coming.” Written by Council Vice- Chair, historian and journalist Duay O’Neil, this production is one of many projects presented in celebration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Performances will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7 p.m at Newport Grammar School with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each but theater-goers can receive a discount of $2.00 off for Saturday and Sunday’s performances if they purchase their tickets at the Partnership booth at the festival.
For more information, contact Fancher, Lynn Ramsey or Susan Ball at the Chamber office – 423-623-7201.