A Glance at Franklin, NC
Nestled deep in the Smoky Mountains in southwest North Carolina sits Franklin, a picturesque town that is known for its breathtaking views and lively small-town atmosphere. Due to steady population growth, Franklin is a flourishing cultural hub in a region that is relatively remote. The town is seeped in Appalachian culture, with regular blue grass concerts being performed at the town gazebo from May to March. Franklin also hosts various festivals throughout the year, including a particularly lively 4th of July parade.
Franklin is surrounded by the oldest mountains on earth, so it will come as no surprise that the region has a rich history. Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Franklin was an important Cherokee town and trading post. Many vestiges of the Cherokee culture and spirit remain scattered throughout the town like long-forgotten clues, so be sure to keep an eye out!
Overall Franklin offers beautiful mountain views, low-risk family fun, and a lovely change of pace, making it the perfect weekend getaway for anyone who is hoping to reconnect with the simple pleasures.
Franklin Pumpkin Festival
When I first heard of the Franklin Pumpkin Festival I expected a humble crowd with a few local vendors selling pumpkin-themed food. What I found was a full-blown event that was packed with adults decked out in autumn attire and kids showing off their costumes. The “few local vendors' I expected turned out to be over 90 booths that dotted the entire space and caused me to be overwhelmed by choice. It seemed like an
insult to the event to check it out on an empty stomach, so I got some food and with apple cider and donuts in hand, I started to explore.
I quickly learned that the main event of the Pumpkin Festival is the “Pumpkin Roll”, which is not a delicious baked good, but rather a sporting event where participants roll their choice of pumpkin down a hill and see who gets the furthest. At the registration for the event, staff could be seen selling pumpkins to those who came unprepared for the festivals and casually inspecting the pumpkins other participants brought with them to ensure they weren't too prepared. While there was a $100 reward for the participant who could roll the furthest pumpkin, it became clear that the true prize was bragging rights. After the contest, it was revealed that over 600 had participated this year and the winner was announced who had managed to roll her pumpkin 942 feet.
While continuing to look around I realized this truly was a place built for everyone. While adults could browse the local vendors that displayed all sorts of arts and crafts unique to western North Carolina, kids had their slice of the festival. I first found the “kid’s corner” when I saw something bright yellow in the distance and as I got closer found that there was not one but two gigantic inflatable bouncy castles that kids could
bounce on for free. As I explored the kids' corner I almost started to feel left out because aside from the awesome bouncy castles they also had free pony rides, face painting, and a haunted house!
But the vendors should not be slept on. While some shops focused on pottery, soap, candles, and jewelry- all of which I expected to find from local artisans, others had products that took me by surprise. My personal favorite was the shop that sold clothes and costumes for your pets, if only because it caused the festival to be filled with dogs dressed up in flannel, mini sweaters, and the occasional bee costume (my favorite was
the little bulldog dressed up as Maralyn Manroe) You could not go hungry here if you tried, I knew I wanted to check out a local restaurant for lunch so I was trying not to fill-up, which was the biggest test of self-control I’ve had in my life. Everywhere you looked you would find delicious creations that all looked and smelled amazing.
The pumpkin festival truly is the event of the year in Franklin, and it prides itself on happening every year no matter the weather, luckily I didn’t have to find out what the pumpkin festival looks like in the pouring rain and I can only hope that it’ll be sunny again next year!