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Sunflower Festival sees largest attendance in event’s nearly two-decade long history

Karla Prudhomme
Freelance Writer

Johnson County came out in full force on Saturday, July 17, for the 17th Annual Sunflower Festival, which was a huge success. The weather cooperated, and the crowds enjoyed the festive event under mostly blue skies and sunshine. With 181 vendors, this year’s Sunflower Festival turned out to be one of the largest, one-day events seen in Johnson County, in recent memory. Tents stretched from one end of Main Street to the other, giving the crowd a plethora of things to do, buy, see, and eat.

With over 19 food tents, the choice of cuisine was staggering. There were arts, crafts, jewelry, antiques, yard art, flowers and plants, clothing, handbags, knives, carvings, local honey, handmade birdhouses, quilts, and so much more within the artfully displayed tents that lined Main Street, giving visitors an excellent variety of things to view, order, or purchase.

The streets were packed with people starting at 9 a.m., and the crowds stayed throughout the day. The annual Sunflower Festival beauty pageant kicked off at 10 a.m. in front of the Johnson County Courthouse and drew huge crowds. Festival-goers were happy to make way for the ‘Twirling Twins’ of Kingsport, Tennessee, as their twirling talent with multiple batons thrilled both young and old alike.

As the day heated up, the ‘Kids Zone’ sponsored by Parkdale Mills, filled up and with face painting, carnival games, several bouncy houses, and the giant slide, the cacophony of children’s excited screams and laughter grew louder. A consistent crowd gathered under the tent in front of the music stage throughout the day of stellar live entertainment, but the crowd overflowed when the Johnson County JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) Kids got on stage. Another crowd-pleaser was this year’s headliner, ‘Molly & Sadi Yates’ of Taylors Valley, Virginia, as their combined musical talent was undeniable.

The Allan Lipford Memorial Car and Bike Show has been a staple at the annual Sunflower Festival since its inception but continues to be a big crowd-pleaser. This year’s Sunflower Festival also saw the incorporation of local businesses, like newcomers’ Mountain Farm and Craft Market’, located at the old Neva Elementary School.

Hats off to festival organizers Renee Profitt, Ashtin Rhymer, and family, as they and many volunteers and sponsors helped to give Johnson County a wonderful day of fun, entertainment, and community celebration.