From Staff Reports
The public is invited to come and have a “berry” good time at the upcoming Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival in the town of Unicoi.
This festival features a venue of family entertainment and community collaboration and marks the harvest of the region’s largest strawberry farm.
Activities for the festival will be centered around Unicoi Elementary School at 404 Massachusetts Ave., Unicoi.
Strawberries from Scott’s Farms in Unicoi are known throughout the region for their quality and taste. Traditionally, each year the white and green wagons are rolled throughout the region making these delicious berries available to consumers in East Tennessee. The town of Unicoi holds the festival each year to honor the life of the late Wayne Scott, who was an innovative, hard-working man. Scott left a legacy that honored not only his family but the town of Unicoi. He served his country as an electrician in the Navy and continued his skills as an electrician, crawling under houses until the mid-1940s. Wanting to expand his career options, he sought to continue his education through the G.I. Bill and attended East Tennessee State University.
Finding interest in agriculture, he attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Through the influence of his cousin John Neece, he decided to enter the school of education and became a teacher. Hitchhiking back and forth from Unicoi to Knoxville each weekend to be with his wife and family, he received his degree and became an agriculture teacher at Unicoi County High School.
In aspirations of sending his own children to college, he began to try farming — including raising strawberries — as a business in addition to teaching. He engaged two business partners to start a wholesale tomato farm known as Tennessee Hills Tomato Company. He supplied the land and building while his partner, Rene Biggers, furnished the capital. Dick Johnson was the tomato broker who actually sold the tomatoes. Eventually they would buy tomatoes from 50 to 60 farmers. In the 1960s he would buy out the rights giving him controlling interest as the sole proprietor. He then left teaching for a year in 1969 to devote himself to his new dream. He resumed teaching in 1970.
His son, Steve, assisted by his wife, carry on the tradition today by managing Scott’s Farms.
The festival features a true celebration of community involving local non-profit organizations. Participating organizations include the Unicoi History Committee, the Jericho Shriners, Senior Citizens Center, Habitat for Humanity, the 911 Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office and the Unicoi County Health Department.
Several faith-based organizations, including Limestone Cove Church of Christ, Unicoi United Methodist Church and Rocade Salvacion Church, take part, as well.
The festival also features a variety of foods, including barbecue, fried potatoes, Mexican tamales and traditional American foods, such as funnel cakes and other sweet treats.
Entertainment will be provided by The Jerry Sam’s Band, Ravenwood and Decker and Skinner with the Blue Ridge Cut-ups.
Kids activities available will include bouncy house fun jumping, a dunking booth, cow train rides and a bike decorating contest. Two winners — a boy and girl — will be selected. To compete, they simply need to show up at the parade site, which starts at Unicoi Funeral Home.
There will also be a Strawberry Recipe Contest. Recipes must be submitted by May 15 to the Unicoi Town Hall. For more information, call 743-7162 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The festival will also offer a corn hole tournament.
A variety of prizes will be distributed, including tickets and gift certificates from Primo’s, Wisemen’s, Hands-on Regional Museum, Pepsi, Tweetsie Railroad and Carowinds.