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Sunflower Festival offers lots of good mountain food, crafts and music

By: Paula Walter
Assistant Editor

An early morning rain left the mountains of Johnson County just in time for the start of the annual Sunflower Festival. Despite an overcast sky, the crowds gathered as friends, old and new, explored not only the many handcrafted items for sale but indulged in scrumptious tasty treats.
It wasn’t unusual to hear hands clapping and feet tapping as visitors sang, hummed and even danced to some of the favorite tunes as the crowd was entertained by musicians throughout the day.
The Sunflower Festival always seems to be the best of small town America and this year was no exception. On the corner of Church and Main streets was an old fashioned ice cream stand that offered delicious treats, including what seemed to be a favorite, a combination of chocolate and peanut butter homemade ice cream that made your taste buds dance. Just around the corner was Representative Timothy Hill chatting and listening to the concerns of his constituents. A crowd of young and old alike was drawn to the llama that seemed to ignore his steady stream of visitors.
There was a huge selection of handcrafted gifts for those looking for that unique or special one of a kind gift. Several vendors carried homemade soaps, including specialty soaps for man’s best friend. “Some of my soaps are made with local honey,” said Sharon Springer. It was Karen Widener’s second year at the festival selling her unique handmade jewelry. Kenny Vestal from Carter County sat quietly amid the crowd and continued to whittle as he created a variety of wooden designs, including walking sticks made of birch and poplar.
Mary Alice and Tracy Van Fleet’s booth was a busy stop as people explored their oil filled rock candles they have been making for approximately a year. Sandy Bottom offered beautiful crocheted items, including a purse that can easily be transformed from a shoulder bag to a cross body purse. Both Van Fleet and Bottom made the trip to Mountain City from Unicoi County. Tia Thomas had a large assortment of her beautiful scenic photographs ready to purchase and frame. Renee Proffitt of Rocky Knob Krafts had a selection of wreaths, decorated mason jars and specialty wooden spoons and forks. Amy Potter offered a selection of handcrafted glass creations. She explained the process involves heating the glass between 1300 and 1400 degrees before it can be put into a mold to make the designs.
There was a giant wet slide to the delight of many children, face painting and a car show that showcased antique and muscle vehicles. For those who came hungry and thirsty, there was a plethora of choices from barbecues held for fundraisers to lemonade, Hawaiian ice, ribbon potatoes, funnel cakes and Italian ices.

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