As it’s said of spring, “April showers bring May flowers,” and boy did it shower on Saturday, April 27, at the 16th annual Greening Up the Mountains festival in Sylva. Despite the rain, many people still showed up to celebrate the arrival of spring in the mountains.
The festival kicked off at 9 a.m. with a 5K race sponsored by the Jackson County Greenways Project. Of the 93 participants, the overall male winner was Evan Grant with a time of 18:35. Traci Long, Sylva, N.C., was the overall female winner with a time of 24:59.
Sylva’s historic downtown is home to the festival, where vendors lined the streets and people gathered to celebrate local artists, businesses and civic groups. Music could be heard from two different stages and there was no shortage of activities, food and fun.
Bethany and Annette Holland, both residents of Franklin, had a great time in spite of the weather.
“It’s awesome,” said Annette, a first timer at the festival.
Bethany, who came to watch her boyfriend play in one of the bands, said she likes the local representation.
“Normally, there’s the Jackson County farmers market that happens around this time on Saturdays, so I like to see some of those vendors here because it’s nice to get local soaps and perfumes,” said Bethany. “I like that the churches are represented, as well as some of the mental health services, like Meridian this year ... it’s a good event for everyone to come out and listen to music, but also see what’s in the community and talk to people.”
Duane and Ann Singletary, also of Franklin, have been vendors at the festival for the past five years. They didn’t let the rain get them down either.
“We never say never on the rain because we remember the dry years. So it’s okay, we weather it,” said Ann.
“It’s my knowledge that fish start biting when it rains; people for some reason want to snack on whatever snack foods they can find when it starts raining too, so we never close it,” Duane jokes of their kettle corn stand. “It’s a great festival.”
The Singletarys did, however, notice the weather’s effect on the event’s turnout.
“It’s disappointing for the folks who put this together because they work hard all year ... we usually have around 10,000 people, the streets are packed,” said Ann.
A first time art vendor this year, Melanie Sellers, of Ridge Spring, S.C., only made a few sales before having to pack up because of the storm, but she did have some luck networking.
“I’m looking to move up to the area, around Asheville. So I’ve been trying out different festivals to see which is a good place for selling art,” said Sellers. “We’ve met some people today from other festivals who have invited us to show there as well, so it’s been good.”
While it may have been a wash out for some of the vendors this year, Sylva’s First Baptist Church showed their appreciation for all those who faced the storm by providing free hot chocolate and shelter from the rain.
“I am really surprised by how many people have come out. We’ve done hot chocolate like crazy because it’s so wet,” said Pearl Hall, a member of the church. “It’s a good thing for people to get together and share their art crafts.”