Make sure to mark the calendar for the region’s inaugural Meet the Mountains Festival presented by Ballad Health on August 24 and 25. Organizers aim to showcase Northeast Tennessee’s natural assets and to encourage residents and visitors to live healthy and active lifestyles.
“This festival will foster collaboration among various user groups that are passionate about the outdoors,” said Kayla Carter, Outdoor Development Manager with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. “The goal is to have this free festival serve as an annual coming together of the region’s outdoor community.”
Johnson City will serve as the basecamp for the festival as it’s easy to access mountain towns like Erwin and Elizabethton, where other off-site outdoor events will take place. The heart of the event will be held at Founders Park, which is also a short bike ride away from Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park and East Tennessee State University.
“We also want to encourage partnership by cross promoting existing or new events and competitions that take place throughout the region on this particular weekend,” Carter said. “We also welcome other businesses and organizations to apply as a vendor or support the festival by offering to host an information session.”
Organizers are planning for the park to host several vendors and outdoor brands as well as various non-profit groups that serve specific outdoor user groups. Vendor spaces will be organized based on which user groups they target.
“There will be three zones that serve to categorize all outdoor recreation activities,” Carter said. “Within these zones, festival goers will be able to experience activities like demo different brands of mountain bikes, try out paddleboards in a demo pool, test out fishing poles in Brush Creek or even sign up for an early morning yoga class.”
Festival activities will also include information sessions, music, food trucks, a kid zone and outdoor movies.
“I would say that it is really going to put the Tri-Cities on the map,” said Jamie Rice, Town of Erwin Communications Director. “All of the adrenaline junkies, day hikers and adventure seekers can come together to enjoy this festival.”
Activities and experiences bundled together through the festival will range from beginners to those who excel in a certain sport. At basecamp, the festival will present activities for all ages and all outdoor lovers alike.
“I’m really excited,” said Matt Moses with USA Raft and Mountain River Guides. “Even if one person discovers a new activity or a way to enjoy the outdoors, that’s a win.”
Organizers are encouraging any event creators to partner with the festival for cross promotion. Examples of events that the festival organizers would like to partner with are Unicoi County’s Nolichucky Triple Threat and the AllTrails Cycling Sugar Rush XC Mountain Bike Race and Sugar 6 Marathon Mountain Bike Race.
“I think it is a great way to showcase to visitors what our region has to offer as far as natural resources and outdoor events,” said Tonya Stevens, Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce Director. “It will also bring greater awareness of those resources to the folks that already live here.”