GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL)- The 28th annual Iris Festival kicked off on Saturday with music, food, over 155 vendors and a car show. The festival began that morning with a 3-mile walk.
Jenny Buchanan, co-owner of the family-owned business Appalachian Iris Garden, said they have been coming out to the festival for many years.
“We have been doing the Iris Festival probably since the early 2000s, maybe the 1990s,” said Buchanan. “We love coming out and spending time with our community, and I love seeing the people year after year.”
The Buchanan family grows and sells their Iris flowers and seed starters every year at the festival.
“We love growing the state flower,” said Buchanan. “It takes four or five years just to get a few to [be big enough to] sell, it is a very lengthy process. We have close to 5000 varieties at our house and we’ve got 161 varieties here today.”
The Iris Festival started the Brag Bicycle race last year and brought it back for the 2023 season. Alayna Smith, Director of Tourism at the Greene County Partnership said they wanted to bring a different experience for those coming out to the festival.
“Traditionally, it’s been really focused on shopping, which is great,” said Smith. “That is still definitely a focus but we want to offer something additional for those who are athletes and who want to tour Greene County and see the beautiful mountains.”
The Brag Bicycle race begins Sunday at 7 a.m. and offers rides for different experience levels.
“We have a 23-mile route, a 40-mile route and a 68-mile route,” said Smith. “That 68-mile route covers about 5000 feet of elevation.”
The Iris Festival offers more than just entertainment for the community, organizers say.
“It gives them a taste of our local culture, which I think is important,” said Smith. “Another thing is that it shows regionally the beauty of this area, so as we continue to develop murals downtown, it shows downtown coming back to life.”