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Complaints prompt City to review festival location

The 17th Annual Sunflower Festival was the largest it has ever been in both vendors and attendees. After a few business complaints, the Town of Mountain City is taking a “strong look” at moving the festival off Main Street. File photo.

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

The 17th Annual Sunflower Festival held last month in Mountain City has proved to be the biggest and most attended by far. The event turned the town into a coveted destination spot after it brought in vendors and guests from all around the Tri-Cities.But now, city officials are discussing displacing the festival from its current position on Main Street because of complaints that reportedly came to the attention of City Mayor Jerry Jordan and the rest of City Council. Some recent reports suggest the festival may even leave Mountain City. Although locals reported how much they enjoyed the festival and City Council members mentioned the plethora of positives, officials still landed on this “unpopular opinion” to “take a strong look” at the festival.

As for a possible new location, the only suggestion mentioned at the last City Council meeting as well as on social media was moving it to one of the local parks, which locals report from previous experience would be impossible because of water issues and possible weather conditions. The city did not name the businesses that voiced their issues with the venue, but one business owner told the Tomahawk that his issue was with promises made by the city, not the festival itself.

“We let two of our business owners down,” City Mayor Jerry Jordan said during the most recent council meeting. “We caught a lot of flack for it.”

When news of the possible move became public knowledge, social media exploded. Facebook users encouraged everyone to show up to the next city council meeting and contact city officials, letting their views be known.

“We need voices at the meetings,” said one event organizer, Ashtin Rhymer. “We need to band together in support of the festival and every other event. We need this for our town. We have to get off Facebook and make our voices heard by being at the city council meeting, by calling and sending emails and letters to our mayor and council members. So they know they can either upset a few business owners for a day or two or upset the entire town, who elects them into office.”

Hometown Service Coalition has reached out to offer support. President John Cunningham reports he has spoken with members of the City Council, specifically Dustin Shearin, and they believe it can be resolved.

“In my opinion, I have no doubt that we will see necessary changes be brought forth for discussion,” Alderman Shearin joined the digital discussion. “Hindsight is 20/20, as the old expression states. I am always open to ideas and suggestions. My hope is that a middle ground is found for all involved for the betterment of our town.”

The Mountain City Council meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm at City Hall. For more information about the Mountain City government, visit mountaincitytn.org.