MCTA Public Information Officer
MCTA hosted the 7th Annual Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival May 20-21, 2022
Wartburg, Tennessee – The Mountain Laurel called and they came to enjoy the celebration of the beautiful mountain shrub and experience rural Morgan County’s many offerings through two days of activities for people of all ages and interests.
On Friday, MCTA was excited to host WATE’s afternoon show, Living East Tennessee, as they dedicated an entire episode to the Mountain Laurel Festival and Morgan County. Viewers were able to experience the best of Morgan County through segments on the festival, Hike MoCo, Tanner’s Historic Cafe revitalization, Historic Rugby, Grey Gables, RM Brooks, the Heritage Museum, Brushy Mountain Penitentiary and upcoming events and activities scheduled during the summer. The show’s hosts even got to compete in a modified Irish Road Bowling game that gave a preview of the following day’s festivities.
Friday evening’s festival activities began with the MoCo Mutts Pet Parade and local residents and visitors brought their dogs to parade around the courthouse square and raise money and donations for MoCo Mutts, the county’s only dog and cat rescue facility. Certificates were issued for the winners of the Cutest, Best Costume and Best in Show and families were treated to a fun parade as the animals and their owners marched around the courthouse.
Following the Pet Parade, Southern Steel rocked the crowd with a mix of southern rock and classic rock and roll that built excitement for the fireworks display that ended the concert and first day activities. Sponsored and executed by the Brushy Mountain Group, the fireworks capped a busy day of television, setup and activities and left visitors eager for the festival’s second day of activities.
The second running of the Mountain Laurel 5K Ridge Run also featured a first, as 5-year old John Ryker Spurling became the youngest participant to finish the race which follows the Central High School Loop behind the Morgan County Visitor’s Center. The male and female adult overall winners were Trevor Loy and Kelsey Hughes.
Visitor’s to the festival this year were greeted by an awesome archway of faux mountain laurel designed and created by local artist and business owner Dana Fox. Using mixed media, including recycled materials like milk jugs and soda bottles, the beautiful display was one of many highlights of the festival.
Vendors crowded the courtyard grounds as there were approximately 70 vendors selling their wares or attracting attention to causes or candidates.
Multiple food vendors lined the roads and this year marked a return of free children’s activities, including a new water tunnel to run through and cool off in the hot May sun. There were many other activities, like Helicopter Rides, Putt-Putt golf course, Irish Road Bowling Demonstration, T-shirt printing and tea setting displays and tea tastings. The 62 Ale Trail was represented with beer samples from the county’s three breweries. A car show was also held on Main Street adjacent to the courtyard. Live music entertained festival-goers all day.
Tanner’s Historic Cafe had a very busy day as well as visitors came in to try the food and ice cream and see the amazing transformation of the nearly 100 year old building.
Mark Keck, Chairman of Morgan County Tourism Alliance stated, “It was an awesome day. We were so proud for the opportunity to honor our first responders who continue to be heroes everyday. A huge thank you to all who visited and to all our vendors and musicians. Looking forward to next year!”
Despite an unforeseen rain shower that dampened the late afternoon’s activities, visitors had a full day of activities and many expressed how impressed they were by Morgan County and our festival offerings.
As the Morgan County Tourism Alliance reflects on all the accolades and proud moments from this year’s Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival, they are already thinking of improvements and enhancements for next year’s festival, which will be held 19-20 May 2023.
For more information on Morgan County and the Morgan County Tourism Alliance, including how you can get involved, go to mctamoco.com.