Finding Local Festivals and Events

This past weekend my daughter and I drove to Nashville to spend the weekend with my oldest daughter and her husband.  While we were there we attended several local festivals and events. The weather was great, which was nice since two of the events were outside.  I’ve found that attending local events is often a great way to get to know a community and experience it in a unique way.

How to Find Local Events

We were lucky to have my daughter as a tour guide.  She is usually aware of what is going on when we are coming to visit, so she plans our activity schedule to include local events.

If you do not have a local guide, the internet will have to do.  Start out by looking on tourism sites. If you are heading to a large city like Nashville, you might have to search for the specific type of festival you are looking for. You can also check Facebook or Ravelry (fiber-related), since some smaller events do not have a dedicated web page.  Look at pages that focus on your hobbies or interests to see if there are events happening in or near the area you are visiting.  You may find a running race, a biking event, a wood-carving show or an antique car show – the possibilities are endless.

Fiber in the Boro – Tennessee’s Fiber Festival
Shearing an Alpaca near the Barn, Fiber in the Boro
Shearing an Alpaca near the Barn, Fiber in the Boro

Saturday morning, we went to Fiber in the Boro,  a fiber festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  I had attended it about six or seven years ago with my daughter.  At that time, the event was held in a park, with the animals outside and the yarn vendors under the outdoor picnic shelter.  There were about a dozen vendors.

My Daughters Shopping for Roving, Fiber in the Boro
My Daughters Shopping for Roving, Fiber in the Boro

This year there were close to sixty vendors.  At least 75% of the vendors were based in Tennessee – many were farms that raised alpaca, sheep, or other animals. The event was held at an agricultural center so the animals could be inside the barn and the other vendors inside a building (with walls).  Although the festival has been held at this location for awhile, it was a big improvement over the last time I was there.

Yarn from Rain's Obsessive Stitchery, Fiber in the Boro, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Yarn from Rain’s Obsessive Stitchery, Fiber in the Boro,
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

The yarn and fiber selection was amazing.  If you are a spinner, it would be a wonderful show to attend.  Many of the farms brought their animals, fleeces or prepared roving – you could make a purchase at any level.  Although the show seemed to be focused toward spinners, I found plenty of yarn to add to my stash.  Local spinners and dyers displayed their products, but there were also some popular domestic and imported brands of yarn.

Athens of the South – Neighborhood Festival

Saturday afternoon we stopped in at the Athens of the South music and arts festival for about an hour.  This event was located in the East Nashville neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee. According to their Facebook page, this festival’s purpose is to “unite and strengthen our local community.”

We listened to music and poetry reading; we walked through the tents where art was on display.  There were at least a half dozen food trucks available for us to find lunch – too bad we had already eaten.

Beachaven’s Jazz on the Lawn – Local Area Event
Beachaven Winery's Jazz on the Lawn, Clarksville, Tennessee
Beachaven Winery’s Jazz on the Lawn,
Clarksville, Tennessee

Saturday evening we drove to Clarksville, Tennessee, for Beachaven Winery’s Jazz on the Lawn.  The winery offers free music, free parking, and always a great time.  We have been to the winery’s events several times in the past. They do not serve food, but offer free (limited) wine tastings and wine for purchase. We always pack a picnic supper and bring our lawn chairs.  We enjoyed good food and good music along with the Beachaven wine.

Why to Look for Local Festivals and Events

Attending local festivals can help you experience the culture of an area in a way that you wouldn’t if you just visit the popular sites.  In Nashville, we were able to visit with local farmers and crafts-people, listen to music and poetry from local performers, and experience the local food culture.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to check for festivals even if you are not interested in attending. When my husband and I went to northern Michigan earlier this month, we checked to see if there were any festivals going on at the time we were there. My husband does not like crowds, so I was almost relieved when we found the tourism calendar free of large events.

Next time you are traveling, look for a local event to attend. Expand your tourism to cover more than just the popular sites.

Have you already attended a local festival while you were traveling?  Leave a comment below.

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