Greening Up the Mountains Welcomes 220 Vendors for 20th Anniversary

Plenty of activities for children are planned for Greening Up the Mountains including a special Kids Zone. (Photo courtesy Kelly Donaldson/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.)

SYLVA — In an ironic twist, the 20th annual Greening Up the Mountains Festival will feature more vendors than ever with exactly 220 when the event takes place on Saturday, April 22 in downtown Sylva.

The Greening Up the Mountains Festival is a free festival running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which draws artisans from within its community, spotlighting fine arts and crafts, unique small businesses, heritage demonstrations, and those who work with the natural environment, sustainability and wellness. 

The record-setting 220 vendors range from heritage and handmade arts and crafts to learning experiences and displays dealing with solar teardrop trailers, solar lights, all natural cleaning products, finding and sorting aquatic insects, nature art drawings and earth day games for children, clean air related issues, locally grown Frasier fir trees, natural skin care, pottery from local clay and so much more.

This 20th anniversary has exceeded all other years in participation. The vendors this year represent just about every art and/or craft handmade in Western North Carolina; plus every small business and non-profit. This is a grand showing of how much our area cares about sustainability efforts and caring for the natural environment, and also care about meeting and visiting with their friends and neighbors, for the festival brings thousands of visitors to town every year.  

Festival food will be in abundance, located on Main Street near the Main Street stage, and also on Railroad Avenue in the town parking lot.  Spread throughout the vendors will be kettle corn, pork rinds, goobers, shaved ice, baked goods, bottled soda, ice cream, Italian ice, funnel cakes, jams and jellies, mixed pickles and lots more. The popular Crawfish Boil will again be held on Back Street near Eric’s Seafood. 

A full farmer’s market of more than 20 booths will highlight locally-grown food.

This 20th year, in conjunction with it’s overall focus of the “greening” of spring and earth-friendly family learning experiences,  the town is offering an “Earth Day” raffle featuring scrubs—Rhododendron and Azalea—and flowering trees—Dogwood— as prizes for replanting. (Tickets are only $1.) Sponsored by Country Road Farms in Sylva, these scrubs and trees will add year-round beauty to any landscape.

Drawing thousands of visitors, Greening Up The Mountains is also a celebration of renewal, of revitalization by reconnecting with friends, relatives, and neighbors.

Kids Zone

Greening Up the Mountains is a celebration of spring for all ages! Visit Jackson County Public Library, 4H, Safe Kids of Jackson County and The Play Sanctuary along with vendors galore for children’s items and activities. Interact with face-painting, sensory bins, bean bag toss, balloon animals, crafts, and as usual, the inflatable slide. Join the kid zone next to Bridge Park, and wander the entire event to enjoy fun for everyone including three music stages and a traditional heritage walk.   

A special treat this year will be Joey Cochran aka “The Balloon Goon,” a Haywood County native who travels throughout WNC and upstate SC putting smiles on the faces of children and adults alike with his creative balloon art. Cochran twists balloons into fun shapes for festivals, community and church events, restaurants, birthday parties and school parties.

“Making so many children smile is the most rewarding experience I have ever had,” said Cochran. “Nothing feels as good as knowing that something I do makes a kid happy”

A children’s talent show will also take place on the main stage at 9:30 a.m. To sign up, contact Heather Gordon, with 4H of Jackson County, at

New hours for shuttle

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. through 5:30 p.m., the Jackson County Transit will provide shuttle service to the festival from the Jackson County Administration/Courthouse parking lot and safely back, rain or shine. Located at 401 Grindstaff Cove Rd in Sylva, festival attendees can take Exit 83 off of Highway 74 and take the first right up the hill. 

Jackson County Transit is Jackson County’s public transportation system. For everyone inside Jackson County, JCT offers door to door transportation inside and outside of the county, and also offers The Jackson Trolley, a deviated fixed route running ten times per day from Dillsboro through Sylva to the campus of Southwestern Community College and back.  

There will be music on two stages at the Bridge Park and on Main Street as well. For a full list of performers and much more about the festival, or call 828-586-2719. Please like the festival’s Facebook page as well.

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.