The town of Unicoi’s annual Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival is set for May 17th. The festival was renamed in honor of the late Wayne Scott, who founded Wayne Scott Farms with his wife in 1959 and Town of Unicoi spokeswoman Linda March said was an “icon and pillar” of the community.
A grand kickoff for the festival will begin at 9 a.m. With a parade beginning at the parking lot of the Unicoi Funeral Home. The town of Unicoi will host a parade. Oh, and no need to worry — the trains that cross on Massachusetts have been halted for the duration of the parade.
The parade will feature a number of local groups and organizations, including the Unicoi County Shrine Club (with go-karts in tow), the Cherokee Hot Shots firefighters, the Unicoi Church of God, local Boy and Girl Scout troops, Rolling Thunder and bluegrass bands.
“It’ll give us an opportunity to showcase different elements of the community, the different organizations,” March said of the parade.
Following the parade, attendees can take to the field at Unicoi Elementary School for the festival’s events, which will include arts and crafts, a dunking booth which is likely to feature some local officials, a pie-throwing event, a cornhole tournament sponsored, strawberry recipe contest, and bluegrass and gospel music throughout the day. Opening ceremonies for the festival will get under way at 10 a.m. The location is ideal, March said.
“It’s like coming to Unicoi’s backyard and that just maintains the whole flavor of the festival itself,” March said. “We want you to be part of us, we want you to come and get to know us and want to welcome visitors to come see what it’s like in Unicoi.”
Students of Unicoi Elementary School can also take part in parade of their own by bringing their bicycles and registering at the stage when the festival begins. This parade will take place on the walking track around the school’s field. And one lucky boy and girl will come away with a new bike as those signing up for the bike parade will be entered into a random drawing for a new bike. The two prize bicycles are being donated by Ted Hopson of H & H Auto and James Howell of Howell Automotive.
Of course, the main attraction of the festival is the plethora of strawberry fare on hand. Folks can sample any number of strawberry desserts and try out some of the fresh-from-the-vine strawberries provided by Scott Farms.
“Once they get down there to the festival grounds, they’re probably not more than an hour or two old out of the field,” March said.
Not into strawberries? Well, there will be food vendors set up with various foods to satisfy any palate. Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said the vendors are made up of non-profit groups and organizations, which falls in line with the atmosphere of the festival.
“We’re trying to preserve the old-timey flavor of the festival,” he said. “We’re trying not to be so commercial with it, and that’s why we’re letting non-profits do the fundraising.”
Those wishing to register for the cornhole tournament sponsored by the Clinchfiled Senior Adult Center and Clinchfield Federal Credit Union may pre-register by calling 743-5111. The registration fee for a two-person team is $20. Pre-registration is suggested as registration on the day of the event will be limited. The winning team will receive $100 and plaques, while the second place team will receive ribbons.
Those wishing to place entries in the strawberry recipe contest must do so by 11 a.m. the day of the festival. Winners will be announced at noon.
By Brad Hicks