The 17th Annual Sunflower Festival in Mountain City TN was the largest attended yet and sparked debate over the festival’s future location. Submitted photo.
By Meg Dickens
Since the 17th Annual Sunflower Festival this July, there has been a buzz surrounding the event, both positive and negative. Many people expressed excitement for the biggest event yet and its first time occupying all of Main Street. Others were displeased with “broken promises” during the event that they attributed to city officials. That is how the current discussion started. Now organizers are fighting against the city government to maintain the new ground they gained for the festival.
Supporters showed up to the September 7 City Council meeting to back organizers as the discussion moved forward on a compromise between the two entities. Although displacement does not seem to be in the cards, organizers were still displeased with the outcome.
“Well, they want the committee to come up with a couple of road closure plans with leaving Johnson County Bank and Mountain View Exxon open from Main Street,” Organizer Renee Proffitt explained during another digital discussion. “I’m not sure how this will work out. I guess they are hoping we say forget it and not fool with this crap. I am not sure what the solution is. I can’t understand why they can’t give us one day. Our little community needs this.”
The unrest led to a formal petition through Change.org that gained over 500 signatures in less than a week, with 250 of these happening by the second day it was active. As the document drafted by Ashtin Rhymer states, the organizers are “more than willing to accommodate reasonable needs” for businesses to give the “festival they deserve by blocking the entire main street for one day of the year.”
Through the petition, organizers argue that they need the whole street to make the festival successful and grow it further. The main argument revolves around bringing in tourists to spend money locally, necessary funds for vendors and local businesses, and family fun to the community.
At this point, all signs point to continuing unrest until the situation is settled. Some locals reportedly plan to attend the October City Council meeting to bring up the issue again. The Tomahawk reached out to City Mayor Jerry Jordan for his views on how the meeting went and the petition. He stated that he thought the meeting went well but that the petition makes it clear the organizers disagree. At this time, there is no solution in sight.
The Mountain City Council meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm at City Hall. For more information on the Mountain City government, visit mountaincitytn.org. View the Keep The Mountain City Sunflower Festival on the Entire Main Street petition on Change.org.