If you have ever wondered what East Tennessee has to offer, look no further than the first annual Meet the Mountains festival at Founder’s Park on August 24 and 25.
“There’s no reason to be bored in Northeast Tennessee, especially if outdoor recreation is something that you like to do. There’s literally something for everybody here,” says Kayla Carter, one of the organizers of the event.
Between the ropes-courses, water sports, mountain biking, rock climbing and hatchet throwing, this festival is just a taste of the region.
It is a push to get people outdoors and active, taking advantage of all the area has to offer.
“Recreation is the big draw for this part of the country for sure,” says Keith Kelly with the U.S. Forest Service.
The festival highlights a rich outdoor culture in an area trying to increase its tourism business.
“Some of the uniqueness of where we live is world class mountain biking, white water rafting, even skiing or snowboarding. You could do that in the same day here,” says Matt Moses, owner of USA Raft in Erwin, Tennessee.
It also lets the locals know what is right in their back yard.
“People come out here and raft with us, they say wow I had no idea this was here and I grew up here all my life. And that’s what this is really an attempt at, is to help folks recognize some of these great resources and different ways to enjoy it and appreciate it,” says Moses.
For organizers and vendors alike, the free festival is a chance for the entire outdoor community to come together.
“It’s a call to action. We want people to get out and meet the mountains, maybe they meet the mountains by kayaking or maybe by hiking or paddle boarding or riding an ATV. However they might decide they wanna go out and explore,” says Carter.