Nice Outside Pageant set to return Could 7

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By Richard Rourk

Contributed photo by USA Raft Adventures Resort • A large pool allows participants to try their hand at stand-up paddle boards and kayaks.

The city of Erwin is starting spring with the return of one of its most popular festivals.

Erwin is scheduled to host the fifth annual Great Outdoors Festival on Saturday, May 7th from 10:00am 17 o’clock

“We are delighted to once again host this wonderful event,” said Jamie Rice, Town of Erwin Communications Specialist.

This spring event celebrates all that Unicoi County has to offer and welcomes hundreds of Appalachian Trail hikers who roam the area.

“We’re an outdoor recreation center and we love to see familiar faces come back to town,” said Rice.

Rice was delighted to see this event return after the last few years of COVID-19 restrictions.

This year promises to be even more special. A project that has been in the works for the last few years is finally ready for its public unveiling.

“The highly anticipated Unaka Bike Park will be open to the public and local mountain bike organizations will be on hand to offer group rides and free giveaways,” said Rice.

Offering both mountain bike trails and hiking trails, Unaka Bike Park will open on May 7 to coincide with the festival.

East Tennessee’s old-time music program will fill the streets with casual busker-style performances on the sidewalks of every downtown block.

USA Raft sponsors a large demonstration pool that gives festival-goers a chance to try out a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.

Local businesses are coordinating their efforts to sponsor a free children’s zone, including live animals, burial pits and archery.

Nature-inspired craft vendors and food trucks will line the streets.

Although the Great Outdoors Festival will offer both new and old features, the festival will be missing one of its most popular attractions.

“Unfortunately, we won’t have our herd of elephants,” Rice said. “Not sure when or if we’ll get our elephants back.”

The herd of elephants consisted of several elephant statues that were hand-painted by local artists and displayed on the streets of Erwin from spring to autumn. Sponsored by local businesses and residents, the elephants were then auctioned off in the fall. Proceeds from the auction went to various charities. The first revival partnered with Elephant Parade and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee to raise money and raise awareness for rescued elephants in memory of Mary, the five-ton Asian elephant who died on the Clinchfield Railroad on September 13, 1916 Yard in Erwin was executed.

For more information on all the festival celebrations, please follow the town of Erwin on social media.