The region’s inaugural Meet the Mountains Festival presented by Ballad Health will take over Founders Park on August 24 and 25. Organizers aim to showcase Northeast Tennessee’s natural assets and to encourage residents and visitors to live healthy and active lifestyles.
“This festival will foster collaboration among various user groups that are passionate about the outdoors,” said Kayla Carter, Outdoor Development Manager with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. “The goal is to have this free festival serve as an annual coming together of the region’s outdoor community.”
Activities and experiences bundled together through the festival will range from beginners to those who accel in a certain sport. At basecamp, the festival will present activities for all ages and all outdoor lovers alike. Johnson City will serve as the basecamp for the festival as it provides easy access to mountain towns like Erwin and Elizabethton, where other off-site outdoor events will take place. The heart of the event will be held at Founders Park, which is also a short bike ride away from Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park and East Tennessee State University.
“We also want to encourage partnership by cross promoting existing or new events and competitions that take place throughout the region on this particular weekend,” Carter said.
Off-site events and competitions include the following: The Nolichucky Triple Threat, Buffalo Mountain Sunrise Hike, Roan Mountain State Park’s Full Moon Balds Hike, AllTrails Cycling’s Sugar Rush XC Race & Sugar 6 Marathon Race, Winged Deer Disc Golf Tournament, Sunset Hike and Shallow Water Snorkeling at Rocky Fork State Park, Run the Tweetsie 5K & 10K, Ladies Mountain Bike Ride at Tannery Knobs, Group Mountain Bike Ride at ETSU Trail System, Discover Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek, ETSU Basler team Challenge Aerial Adventure Course, Bays Mountain Fire Tower Hike, and Boot Camp Fitness Class at Kingsport Family YMCA.
“There are also a total of about 55 vendors,” Carter said. “The majority of the vendors are non-profits that specialize in various outdoor activities. We are excited about partnering with these organizations because we want this festival to be the place to come find the people and resources to learn more about outdoor recreation in the region.”
The non-profit partners include, but are not limited to: Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts, Mountain Trail Riders Association, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, SORBA Tri-Cities, Team River Runner and our local Trout Unlimited chapters. Several businesses and brands are involved in the festival. Some of those businesses are Mahoney’s, Mountain Sports Limited and Overmountain Outdoors, which have all contributed resources to the festival in a variety of ways. Some brands to look for at the festival are Recover Brand, KEEN, HandUp Gloves, Hoka One One, NEMO and Jackson Kayak.
“There are four zones that serve to categorize all outdoor recreation activities and vendors,” Carter said. “Within these zones, festival goers will be able to demo different brands of mountain bikes, navigate through an obstacle and ropes course, sit in an off-road vehicle, try out paddleboards in a demo pool, test out fishing poles and/or sign up for a yoga class.”
Other festival activities will also include information sessions, music, food trucks, a silent disco and outdoor movies. Some activities will have a cost associated with participation such as the Ultimate Air Dogs, axe-throwing and the rock climbing wall, however there is no charge to be a spectator. There is no entry fee for the festival overall. The event is also kid-friendly as well as pet-friendly.
“I’m really excited,” said Matt Moses with USA Raft and Mountain River Guides, the water zone sponsor. “Even if one person discovers a new activity or a way to enjoy the outdoors, that’s a win.”
For more information, go online to mtmfest.com or follow the festival on Facebook and Instagram @mtmfest. To inquire about getting more involved, call the NETREP office at 423-202-3510 or email email@example.com.
The Meet the Mountains Festival would not be possible without these fantastic sponsors and partners: Ballad Health, with support from NeTREP, Eastman Credit Union, Tennessee Vacation, Bright Ridge, and TVA. Zone sponsors include Trek Store Johnson City, USA Raft/Mountain River Guides and NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership. A special thank you goes out to the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, East Tennessee State University, Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union, Citizens Bank, Academy Sports and the East Tennessee Foundation. Our media and marketing sponsors and partners include: Derby Publishing, Cumulus, Neat Lines Cartography, High Road Digital and JC Aerial Photography.
The Northeast Tennessee Partnership’s mission is to enhance job growth and increase the tax base by engaging business leaders through collaboration with existing businesses to expand, build their supply chains, actively recruit new employers in targeted sectors, and attract educated talent for Carter, Unicoi and Washington Counties.