It takes a lot of work money and commitment to keep an event going through so many years that included two world wars, a great depression and a century’s worth of other economic and technological upheavals.
This small Western North Carolina town is known for its paper mill, and that was that industry, the Champion Fibre Company, that started the festival in 1906 to recognize its dedicated workforce. Now a subsidiary of Evergreen Packaging, the company has continued the tradition.
In addition to the plant, several sponsors and partners signed on to help defray the costs, including Ingles grocery stores, Champion Credit Union, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo Insurance, and Haywood Regional Medical Center. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort was the entertainment sponsor.
The city also was involved in the downtown event with police officers directing traffic and making sure everyone could safely cross the busy street between the parking lots and event area.
While I was mainly there to hear – and see – the excellent local and regional bands, the two-day event also features vendors, a classic car show and a parade. The event also afforded me the opportunity to browse the downtown and check out some of the shops, which I’m sure the local Chamber of Commerce appreciates being a byproduct of such festivals.
But the main attraction for me is always the music. You can’t beat festivals for the opportunity to hear a variety of acts up close and personal.
Haywood County’s own Balsam Range was the musical headliner on Monday. I attended on Sunday where Lyric, Joe Lasher Jr. and Yonder Mountain String Band were among the groups to take the stage.
It was well worth the drive and here’s hoping that the tradition will continue for another century or two.