PlottFest expands to two days
Haywood County's upcoming PlottFest June 22 and 23 is getting attention from all over the state.
This second year of the annual celebration that binds bluegrass music and Plott hounds together has expanded to two days at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, with national sponsors such as Carhartt on board. Organizers had no idea it would take off the way it has.
Last year a few folks got together at Kevin Duckett's Smoky Mountain Roasters on Hazelwood Avenue to plan a fundraiser for Head Start in Haywood and Jackson Counties. Head Start is a Mountain Projects program that started in 1965 to serve children from low-income families.
The committee decided to include in the festivities the official state dog, the Plott hound, which came to Haywood County from Germany in the mid 1700s. Bob Plott, author and expert on his family's Plott hound history, quickly signed on. Despite the fact that first-time events are rarely perfect and last year's one-day event in early spring was cold and rainy, the idea caught on.
This year's two-day family-friendly summertime party will be bigger and better. Both the National Plott Hound Association and the American Plott Hound Association will be on site for sanctioned bench shows, one for adults and one for youngsters. The APA will have a WTDA representative there to register dogs with the World Tree Dog Association.
Bear baying and bear and coon treeing contests are on the schedule. Fishermen aren't left out. Folks of all ages can participate in a "trout" race, where replica trout are released in Jonathan Creek which borders the Festival Grounds and the first five wooden trout over the finish line win a prize. The annual Trout Festival gives fishing folks an opportunity to learn fishing skills from a local professional angler.
"We are really appreciative of the work the PlottFest committee puts into this for Head Start," said Head Start director Holly Crawford, who is one of the planners and will be selling tickets at the gate. Crawford said teachers often learn that the meals Head Start provides daily are the primary source of nourishment for many of its children.
"Our goal this year is to hand over $20,000 to Head Start from PlottFest," said Duckett. "We're taking our heritage and re-investing it in our future."
Duckett periodically transforms his coffee house in the Hazelwood community into a listening room and presents a variety of musicians free of charge, with donations going to Head Start. Most of those music makers, such as the Darren Nicholson Band, Eddie Rose and Highway 40, Mark Winchester and Milan Miller from Nashville, Mark Bumgarner, Sam Lewis and others will perform at PlottFest.
Haywood County's own chart-topping Balsam Range will be on stage both days. Sunday after church, an all-afternoon all-Gospel program which is new this year is garnering a lot of attention. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.plottfest.org/, or at the gate. Advance tickets are $15 per person for Saturday only, $10 per person Sunday only, or $20 for both days. Sponsorships are still available.
Beginning at the $250 level, sponsorships include tickets to the event and tickets to the pre-event VIP dinner co-sponsored by Cataloochee Ranch Friday evening, June 21.