ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Members of the Rogersville community flocked to the downtown area to celebrate Rogersville Heritage Days, a 3-day event honoring the town.
“It was a chance initially to promote the heritage of our town,” said Rogersville Heritage Association (RHA) Secretary Renee Trent. “This is a great time for people to come in and just kind of be taken back to that old Rogersville.”
The event saw its largest number of craft and food vendors, leading the RHA to free up side streets to fit them all. The event brought in over 100 craft vendors, all offering a variety of hand-crafted items.
Anything sold at the event must be homemade or homegrown, and Trent said the requirement gives visitors the assurance of finding quality items.
“Everyone knows they’re going to find high quality [items],” Trent said. “They’re going to find friendly people set up to help you.”
Vicki Lewis, a vendor from Gatlinburg, has been participating in the festival for 3 years. She said she is always excited to return to Hawkins County.
“This is one of the best festivals in East Tennessee,” Lewis said. “Every year gets better. So I love being here, I love meeting the people, love talking to them And we have a great time here.”
Another attraction within the festival is the Quilt Show, which has been part of the festival for 43 years. Cheryl Battaglia has been co-chair of the show alongside her mother for the last 7 years. She said the hard work and detail that goes into the shows add to the appeal of the event.
“It’s just the intricacy of that and some are actually hand-sewn and handcrafted,” said Battaglia. “And so the people enjoy that, coming every year to see that.”
Working alongside the RHA are members of the Heritage Lites program. The program gives local high school students the chance to earn volunteer hours by serving in their community. Brylea Harris, a senior at Cherokee High School, has worked Heritage Days throughout her high school career. She said working Heritage Days is something she enjoys.
“I love making people’s day so much better,” Harris said. “I like to put smiles on people’s faces and getting to watch them enjoy, Heritage Days is really fun.”
For members of the community, the event goes beyond the physical aspects. They said it’s about reconnecting with old friends.
“Seeing the people, the small town atmosphere, and seeing friends that I’ve not seen all year long or 20 years,” said Rogersville native Casey Sivert.
“Definitely seeing all the people, because you get to see people here that you don’t get to see on a daily basis,” said Kinslee Mowell, senior at Cherokee High School and a member of Heritage Lites.
Organizers said they’ll take a month off following the event before beginning to plan for next year.