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Arts & Entertainment Town, county agencies designate funds for Folk Festival

This year’s Franklin Folk Festival is shaping up to be the biggest ever, say organizers, as the event has gained support from the Tourism Development Authority, the Franklin Main Street Program and the Tourism Development Commission (TDC). The July 16 event will be held on Macon County Heritage Day, and will celebrate the rich cultural history of the Appalachian Mountains.

Organizers said that the bulk of the festival’s budget is spent on advertising, through print, radio, and signage. Last year, the combined amount spent on advertising the event was $7,192 of $11,701 – 62 percent of their total expenses for the festival. Ads are put in surrounding city publications within a threehour radius. Regional radio ads run several weeks prior to the event in WNC and the North Georgia/Metro Atlanta area.

The eighth annual Folk Festival will be held at the Macon County Recreation building and park, as well as downtown Franklin. The festival functions around the theme of celebrating the historic culture of the region, with more than 125 demonstrations or booths exhibiting an aspect of Appalachian heritage. The festival also features live entertainment by regional bluegrass, gospel and “old-timey” musical groups.

The TDC unanimously voted to grant the festival $5,000, and the Main Street Program followed suit by providing $4,375 to the festival.

“We’ve always got a really good response from the community and visitors from around the nation,” said festival organizer Theresa Ramsey. “They come from near and far.”

Last year, visitors from 23 other states attended; Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

“Each year we always try to add something new, and each year more and more people seem to visit,” Ramsey remarked, citing a head count performed last year that numbered approximately 3,000 people. “We are expecting even more people to attend this year.”

Ramsey said that the festival is completely operated and organized by volunteers, requiring no administrative costs. Last year, the festival logged 7,253 hours of time put in by 565 volunteers.

Franklin’s TDA voted to approve the use of billboards, which they lease from Allison Outdoor Advertising to promote local events outside of Macon County. Members however did not vote to grant $2,000 in funds to the festival, and will vote on granting the funds next month.

The TDC unanimously voted to grant the festival $5,000, and the Main Street Program followed suit by providing $4,375 to the festival.

“We’re really wanting to move forward with our advertising, and our printing materials particularly,” said Ramsey, who said festival organizers estimated that advertising would cost around $7,500. “With the money we’ve been granted we can really get the festival going now.”

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