I's fall festival time, and two of Northeast Tennessee's most popular are going on this weekend -- the 41st annual National Storytelling Festival and the 36th annual Unicoi County Apple Festival.
Both are among the the top events not only in Tennessee but in the entire Southeast.
You don't need a sign to tell you it's storytelling time in Tennessee's oldest town. If just visiting the historic setting wasn't enough, the storytelling festival brings even more visitors to town.
Large tents are set up all over the community to accommodate those who just want to sit and listen to a good story. Visitors can also stop by the center of it -- all the International Storytelling Center.
We talked with Isaac Freeman, one of the the local tellers, in a familiar setting for him: a bench in front of the historic courthouse. He's a judge from Smyth County, but also a storyteller, something he teaches to future lawyers."I'm on the professionalism committee for the Commonwealth of Virginia. So I go to different law schools and speak to them about preparation for the practice of law, and I always advocate storytelling," he said.
Just like a lot of the tellers in town, he draws on material from where he comes from -- Southwest Virginia. "You expect people with unusual names or nicknames. You expect odd behavior, and tell me you didn't take every dare known to mankind when you were growing up," he laughed to our crew.
The recently-refurbished wider sidewalks were well worth the wait during festival time.
In downtown Erwin, just getting from point A to point B can be challenging. Nearly 100,000 will fill the streets for the annual Apple Festival.
There are 350 vendors with all types of wares, but the star remains everything apple, including apple pies.
Baker Tracy Darr is selling her homemade pies at the festival. "The fried pies [are] the most popular thing. We dry the apples, we cook them. It takes us 12 hours to roll dough out and it takes us one whole day of 10 people to fry all the pies. We made 4,000," she said. All of them will be gone by the end of the festival.
We found out some more amazing numbers from volunteers with the Unicoi County baseball team, who is selling apples. "We get in about 900 bushels [of apples before the festival]. We get them in on Saturday and by the next Saturday we usually go through the whole 900 bushels," volunteer Ted Rice said.\
For more information about the Apple Festival, visit unicoicounty.org/apple-festival.
For more information on the National Storytelling Festival, visit storytellingcenter.net/festival.