71st annual Rhododendron Festival wraps up

ROAN MOUNTAIN, TENNESSEE (WJHL) – The 71st annual Rhododendron Festival wrapped up at Roan Mountain State Park Saturday evening.

With music, food and more than 100 vendors, the festival drew in crowds thousands of people deep.

“All the vendors we have it must be handmade or homemade items,” said J.R. Tinch, park manager.

Some attendees traveled just a few minutes away, while others said they drove hundreds of miles. But most agree, the highlight of the trip to Roan Mountain is what is waiting for them at the top.

“It is gorgeous, it’s amazing,” said spectator Rosa Harper.

“There’s hundreds of acres of the rhododendron gardens up on top of the mountain, and it’s an extremely rare ecosystem that we have,” Tinch said. “We’re the largest actual conglomerate garden of rhododendrons.”

Tinch said the sight is all about the timing.

“It’s kind of a natural phenomenon to see the rhododendron bloom, and it’s such a short bloom period they may only last for a week while they are in bloom and then they are gone.”

Attendees said it’s something they have waited patiently to see.

“They’re just brilliant colors, just breath taking,” said Alicia Honeycutt.

“We’re going 71 years strong and I’d say we’ll be going 71 more years the way we’re going,” said Tinch.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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