2015 Cranberry Festival
By Rebecca Herman
The second weekend in October is a special time to visit Shady Valley. The leaves are almost at their peak and the fields are filled with ripe pumpkins. Yards are brimming with fall decorations and the Cranberry Festival is in full swing.
This years festivities kicked off with the annual bean supper and live auction. A large crowd gathered in order to bid on items ranging from homemade artwork to freshly picked apples; all benefits from the supper and auction go to support Shady Valley Elementary. Teachers and staff worked hard to gather all auction items and prep for the evening.
On Saturday, festival goers were welcomed by cooler temperatures and foggy mountains. This did not deter people from coming out and enjoying the day. Visitors from as far as Knoxville ventured up to enjoy the activities of the day. Residents and visitors began the day with the Shady Valley Volunteer Fire Department serving a pancake breakfast at the fire hall. People then scattered down along the highway to secure a good spot to watch the parade.
The parade was led by the Johnson County Color Guard and followed by various floats, classic cars, tractors, emergency vehicles, horses, and the Johnson County High School Marching Band. Once at the elementary school the Color Guard presented the flags and the JCHS marching band played the National Anthem. After a word of prayer, sixth grade students from Shady Valley Elementary were honored. At this time winners for the float competition were announced. Honorable mention went to the JCHS FFA, 2nd place went to the 6th grade class at Shady Valley Elementary, and the grand prize went to the Shady Valley Church of Christ.
Once the events were kicked off, music took the stage for the rest of the day. The musical styles were so varied that some part of the program appealed to all in attendance. There were silly songs, ballads, folk songs, and hymns.
When not watching the musicians, one could wander the grounds and shop and eat. There were around 30 vendors at this years festival. Every year the Cranberry Festival grows; years ago there was only a handful of vendors and now the field is packed full of handmade soaps, fresh produce, canned goods, jewelry, pottery, and more.
Along with the goods, festival goers had plenty of food to choose from. Ribbon fries and roasted sweet corn seemed to be a favorite among the crowd. Many of the food vendors were Johnson County High School or church youth groups from Shady Valley, so eating all of those calories that come from fair food isnt as bad if one considers the students that are being helped with each purchase. With so many options from sweet to savory, no one left hungry.
Once bellies were full, visitors could choose from a variety of activities to keep them entertained. There were bouncy inflatables and train rides for children, tours through the elementary school and cranberry bog, and one could visit with neighbors and old friends. The Cranberry Festival has something for everyone and has a family friendly atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and everyone feels like family.