It’s about finding your center. 

Though they’re hundreds of miles from the closest ocean, the members of Sylva-based Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) have concocted a formula of reggae soul unique to the mountains of Western North Carolina. It’s more about an uplifting and relaxed state of mind rather than actual sandy toes and salt water. 

art frDrawing thousands of visitors each year, the 19th annual Greening Up The Mountains Spring Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 23, in downtown Sylva. 

The daylong event is a celebration of renewal, of revitalization, and a time of reconnecting with friends, relatives and neighbors. Browse the more than 190 vendors, representing arts, crafts, demonstrators, culinary delights, local schools, business, community, environmental, health, safety, children’s activities, and more.

art greeningupThe 18th annual Greening Up the Mountains spring kickoff street festival will be held Saturday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Sylva.

The third annual Beer Garden will return to McGuire Gardens with craft beer offerings from Heinzelmannchen and Innovation breweries. The two businesses will also release a Heinz-Syl-Vation Collaboration Ale (blackberry spring wheat ale). Live music at the garden will include Alma Russ, Ian Moore and Dr. Pockets. Entry to the garden is $5, with craft beer and prepackaged treats from the Evolution Wine Kitchen sold separately.

art frThe 16th annual Greening Up the Mountains festival takes place Saturday, April 27, on Main and Mill streets in historic downtown Sylva.

This free festival celebrates spring in the mountains, when the greening leaves work their way up the Great Smoky Mountains. It also celebrates the greening of the environment, with info about sustainable living and presentations by environmental groups.

SEE ALSO: Aiming for the soul, one note at a time

Most things in life start out small — acorns grow into oak trees, babies are reared into adulthood, small patches of green spread until they eventually cover the mountains each spring.

The latter is the focus of Jackson County’s annual festival Greening Up the Mountains, an event that has seen a lot of growth itself.

What started as a small Earth Day event has now grown to the largest festival in Jackson County. Attendance at the former mostly locals event has swelled to 10,000 to 12,000 each year during its 15-year existence.

“It’s kind of neat that it started as a little Earth Day parade in downtown Sylva,” said Emily Elders, an event coordinator. “It’s grown exponentially every year.”

The Greening Up the Mountains festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 28 on Main and Mill Streets in historic downtown Sylva. The Downtown Sylva Association organizes the event, which celebrates the local economy, sustainability and traditional heritage crafts.

More than 200 vendors from all over the county — nonprofits, for-profits and others groups — will set up along the two streets, handing out pamphlets of information and peddling their handmade wares.  

“It’s a really good time to shop for incredible unique Mother’s Day or Fathers Day (gifts),” Elders said.

Even though the festival only lasts one day, the event offers for businesses and groups in Jackson County chance for greater exposure that last for years.

As a business owner, Matthew Turlington said the festival is a chance to broaden his customer base.

“You hope that it brings your standard customers and new customers,” said Turlington, owner of Penumbra Gallery and Studio.

The event draws new potential clients and more emails for their list-serves. This year, the downtown association will survey vendors and local businesses to get a concrete idea of how the local economy benefits from the festival.

“For me, that is the best part. The impact lasts,” Elders said. “It’s really been a lot of economic benefit, not just for the downtown.”

It’s also an opportunity for visitors to experience the best things about Jackson County all at once. As a Jackson County resident, Turlington said his favorite aspect of the festival is its incorporation of Appalachian history, from clogging to singing, and the young performance groups.

“I have always enjoyed the local young talent,” Turlington said.

Two music stages will feature Jackson County bands and heritage dancers. Between bands, multicultural dancers, such as Mexican Folkloric Dancers, Cherokee traditional dancers, the Liberty Baptist Men’s Choir and the Eternity Dance troupe, will perform.

“(The bands are) a pretty good mix this year too,” Elders said.

The traditional bluegrass and Americana bands will be on hand as well as folk and jam bands.

A third stage will be set up specifically for children’s enjoyment, along with the annual Youth Talent Show. Children’s activities include storytelling, face painting, an inflatable slide, the recycled materials Superhero Costume Contest and volunteer projects. This year’s event will also include a 5K run.

 

Schedule of events

Greening Up the Mountains starts at 10 a.m. and concludes at 4 p.m. on April 28 on Main and Mill Streets in historic downtown Sylva. www.downtownsylva.org.


The Smoky Mountain Stage in the Suntrust Parking Lot

• 10-11 a.m.: Tennessee Jed An Asheville-based bluegrass band with a bit of a rock feel.

• 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Marshall Ballew A Sylva native and folk/Americana musician.

• 12:30-1:30 p.m.: Sugar Barnes & Dave Magill A duo with an old-fashioned blues sound.

• 1:45-2:45 p.m.: Moolah Temple Men’s Auxiliary A mix of electronic, lo-fi and choral music.

• 3-4 p.m.: Dan River Drifters A fast-paced bluegrass band based in Sylva.


Tuckaseigee Stage at Bridge Park Pavilion

• 10-10:45 a.m.: The Suite C:  An acoustic folk/indie band from Alabama.

• 11-11:45 a.m.: John-Luke Carter A singer-songwriter from Sylva.

• Noon-12:45 p.m.: PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) A Cullowhee-based reggae/jam band.

• 1-1:45 p.m.: Total War A Sylva-based indie/rock group.

• 2-2:45 p.m.: The Freight Hoppers A popular Bryson City-based old-time string band.

• 3-4 p.m.: Noonday Sun.


Triple Threat Kids’ Stage in Poteet Park

• 10-11:30 a.m.: Mountain Youth Talent Show

• 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Triple Threat Performing Arts

• 12:45-1:15 p.m.: Junior Appalachian Musicians

• 1:30-2 p.m.: Sylva Children’s Theater

• 2:15-2:45 p.m.: Lions Gate Kung Fu Academy

• 3-3:30 p.m.: Burning Ones (The Father’s House of Prayer)

• 3:30-4 p.m.: White Dragon Martial Arts

What child wouldn’t love to be a super hero for the day? The Downtown Sylva Association is sponsoring a “Recycled Superhero” contest for children during Greening Up the Mountains this year.

All superhero costumes will be made from donated recycled materials – and we need your help to make these dreams a reality. Recycled materials – everything from fabric scraps to paper towel rolls, aluminum cans to cardboard boxes – can be dropped off at Town Hall in downtown Sylva.  

Children will be able to use their imaginations to come up with their very own superhero costumes from your donated items, get their faces painted by volunteers from Western Carolina’s University Players, and come up with their very own unique super powers.

Children can build their costume between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the DSA Children’s Booth at Bridge Park; judging will start at 2:30 p.m. near the Children’s Booth. Winners will be announced in several categories at 3:15 p.m. and can take home prizes from local sponsors.

Bring all household items and related materials that could help us make superhero costumes for these kids.

The Jackson County Recreation/Parks Department is still accepting registration for this year’s 5K Run/Walk at Greening Up the Mountains. The annual race takes place at 9 a.m. prior to the opening of the festival events in downtown Sylva. This year, all proceeds will benefit the greenway trail being built at the Webster Department on Aging complex. 

This year’s course is new, providing a much more friendly terrain for the race than in previous years. The course runs from Mark Watson Park across Business 23 and down Old Dillsboro Road, then turns around in Monteith Park and comes back on the same route to the finish at Mark Watson Park. This course is primarily flat, with few slopes, but does have one gravel section.

T-shirts are provided with registration and are guaranteed to the first 75 to register. Pre-registration is $20; race-day registration is $25, and begins at 8 a.m. the day of the race. Registration forms may be printed from www.downtownsylva.org.

The 2011 Heritage Alive! Mountain Youth Talent Contest at Greening Up the Mountains has really exploded.

The start time for the contest has been changed from 10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Bridge Park stage to accommodate the large number of youth who want to perform. Approximately 24 acts will take the stage before the program draws to a close at 11:15 a.m.

Entertainers ranging from 10- to 18-years-old will perform on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, buck dancing, vocals and poetry.

Cash prizes for all participants have been donated by the Catch the Spirit of Appalachia Board of Directors, parents of the 4-H youth, First Citizens Bank, United Community Bank and Champion Credit Union. Judges for the contest are Judy Rhodes (guitar/piano/singer entertainer); Pam Dengler (fiddle/piano entertainer); and Ron Smith (guitar/banjo/singer entertainer).

Jackson County 4-H is joining with Catch the Spirit of Appalachia to produce the Mountain Youth Talent Contest. The Heritage Alive Mountain Youth Talent Contests started in 1997 and is for youth ages 5-18. The purpose is to discover, develop, and encourage talent in the youth of Western North Carolina and to provide an opportunity for local youth to perform on stage before an audience.

Participants in the Talent Contest will now also be eligible to participate in “4-H Entertains” at the district and state level. The Mountain Youth Talent Contest will be offered in three locations and “Best of Show” winners will perform at Mountain Heritage Day at WCU.

• Greening Up the Mountains Festival (Sylva) – Saturday, April 23.

• The Franklin Folk Festival – Saturday, July 16.

• Great Smoky Mountains Railfest in Bryson City – Saturday, Sept. 17.

The two organizations are also working together to bring the JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) program to Jackson County. 4-H is working with a group of community members to start this after-school music program next year. Classes will be taught by regional musicians who will pass along their skills in guitar, fiddle, and banjo.  

The JAM organizing group is currently seeking funding through grants and individual contributions to get this program off the ground. The program is also in need of instruments (guitars, violins, and banjos) so that costs for participants can be kept low. For more information contact Ray Menze at 293.3407 or Pam Dengler at 506.8802.

Smoky Mountain Stage

(Suntrust Parking Lot, Area D)

10-10:15 — Jackson County Heritage Preservation Commission Poster Contest Awards

10:30-11:30 — Triple Threat Performing Arts Academy (including an audience participation dance lesson!)

11:45-12:15 — Lions Gate Kung Fu Academy

12:30-1:30 — Marshall Ballew

1:45-2:45 — Dan River Drifters

3-4:30 — The Freight Hoppers, with special dancing guests the Cullowhee Valley Cloggers.

 

Tuckaseigee Stage

(Bridge Park, Area E)

9:30-11:15 — Heritage Alive! Youth Talent Show (sponsored by Jackson County 4-H)

11:30-12:15 — John-Luke Carter

12:30-1:15 — Total War

1:30-2:15 — Buchanan Boys

2:25 — Announcement of Superhero Costume Contest Winners!

2:30-3:15 — Big House Radio

3:30-4:30 — Vertigo Jazz Project

 

Mother Earth Day Jam

All musicians invited to participate in an open jam session. Tuckaseigee Stage, 4:30-6.

The 14th annual Greening Up the Mountains Festival is slated for Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Sylva.

The spring festival, named for the way spring creeps up the mountain sides, began over a decade ago as a celebration of Earth Day. Crafters, environmental groups, non-profits, local businesses, and farms and nurseries will provide more than 135 engaging booths for this year’s attendees.

The festival’s music lineup includes headliners The Freight Hoppers, Vertigo Jazz Project and Big House Radio and local favorites Marshall Ballew, the Dan River Drifters, John-Luke Carter, Total War and the Buchanan Boys. Performances by Triple Threat Performing Arts Academy students and the Cullowhee Valley Cloggers will add to the day’s festivities, as will the Heritage Alive! Youth Talent Contest sponsored by 4-H and the presentation of the Jackson County Heritage Preservation Commission’s Poster Contest Awards.

The day begins with a 5K Walk/Run at 9 a.m. from Mark Watson Park, sponsored by the Jackson County Greenways Project.

This year’s festival centers around the theme of supporting local businesses, providers and residents as the best way to create a sustainable economy. The festival will showcase demonstrations, booths and educational displays from environmental groups, “green” initiatives and those focused on learning and sustaining traditional mountain crafts and arts.

New this year, a “Market Square” will provide an open-air space for farms, CSAs, nurseries, beekeepers and others to showcase their traditional agricultural wares, and a full complement of children’s activities will encourage their participation in environmental stewardship and local economies.

The festival brings an estimated 10,000 people to downtown Sylva each year.

Sponsors for this year’s version of Greening Up the Mountains include: Howard Allman-Allstate Insurance, Pepsi, Duke Energy, Harrah’s, United Community Bank, Charles Wolfe-State Farm, Jackson County Arts Council, Soul Infusion, Bubacz, The Smoky Mountain News, Tuck Reader, WRGC Radio, McNeely Companies, Dogwood Women’s Health, Stanberry Insurance, Suntrust, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Western Carolina University, Annie’s Naturally Bakery, and Southwestern Community College.

For information call 828.586.1577 or visit www.downtownsylva.org.

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