By REBECCA HAZEN
Uncle Lar’s Outpost is hosting the first ever Spring Fling event on Friday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring music, vendors, food, activities and a sidewalk chalk competition.
Shannon Blom, owner of Uncle Lar’s Outpost along with her husband Larry, is holding the Spring Fling event as a way to help small, local businesses through the pandemic.
“We had a food concession trailer and we went to a lot of big shows. It was a big portion of what we did, and it’s what we did to market Uncle Lar’s. In 2020 we lost 22 shows in two weeks,” Blom said. “We were scrambling.”
Blom said that they did three smaller shows in 2020, but in 2021 all the big shows were cancelled again.
“We realized that a lot of people that we are affiliated with, [the pandemic] hurt them bad. Uncle Lar’s carries a lot of handmade crafts, an array of unique gifts. Some of these people use this money as extra income, or some use it for their Christmas,” Blom said.
Blom decided to hold their own show outside last November, to help all of the local businesses. The show had 30 vendors, which was “superior.”
“They said, we can get through the winter now. I am going to be able to pay my property tax now,” Bloom said.
Based on the success of the fall show, they decided to hold the Spring Fling event.
The event will take place both at Uncle Lar’s Outpost and next door at Randy’s Pawn Shop.
“Every ounce of grass and concrete will have a vendor booth on it,” Blom said. “We have over 100 entities. We have a very large assortment.”
There will be 17 hours of live music throughout the two days. The music entertainers include Barefoot Nellie and Co., saxophonist Bill Henson, Jack Crazy Flute Holland, contemporary Christian band Sölt, and DBW Alternative.
The master of ceremonies will be Rodger Allen, from Pisgah, Ala., who has over 30 years’ experience as a radio host.
Activities include free senior citizen pictures on Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and free family pictures on Friday from 4-6 p.m. and on Saturday from 2:30-4:30 p.m., by Victoria Artrip, and the South East Tennessee Area Young Marines pull-up contest. Also included at the event is an activity given by the Friends of Cloudland Canyon on Uncle Lar’s Outpost porch, and a sidewalk chalk competition. The Library Media Center and a Bible School Bus will also be at the event. The Wounded Warrior race car will also be on display.
The sidewalk chalk competition will be Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is when the artists will draw in their designated spaces. There are 14 competitors and 13 spaces. A panel of five judges will pick a winner of the $500 grand prize. Everyone at the event will be given a ballot to vote for their favorite artist. The people’s choice award will be $100. The award ceremony for the competition will be on Saturday at 2 p.m., presented by the Dade Trenton Optimist Club.
“I have a high reverence for art,” Blom said. “I wanted to do an elevated focal point on art.”
There will be about 45 vendors at the event, ranging from outdoor related items to art, jewelry, clothing, and much more.
Food vendors attending include Choo Choo Gourmet Popcorn, C&L Roasters, Hanner Turkey Legs, Moonstone Vending, the American Legion and Uncle Lar’s Outpost.
Many local non-profit organizations and corporate businesses will also attend the event.
There will be a free shuttle bringing visitors from two parking lots, which will be identified with signage. Members of the South East Tennessee Area Young Marines will escort people off the shuttle bus. The Alliance for Dade will have a greeting tent at each bus station, where visitors will be given a map of the event.
There will be three hospitality carts. There will also be handicap accessible bathrooms, and hand washing stations. A sanitation crew will be on site. There will be two resting stations as well.
Blom noted that they are still accepting sponsorships. There are different sponsorship tiers: platinum exclusive ($1,000 and over), gold ($500-999), silver ($250-499), bronze ($100-$249) and associate sponsor ($25-$99.) If anyone is interested in being a sponsor, call Blom at (423) 505-0093.
There are currently 20 sponsors, including Uncle Lar’s Outpost. Small Town Nutrition is a platinum exclusive sponsor. Gold level sponsors are Randy’s Pawn Shop and River Run Logistics, Inc. Mom & Pops Shop, Guthrie’s, and Landers McLarty Ford are silver level sponsors. Dave’s Auto, The Traders Tab, Lookout Winery & Pizza, RSS Insurance, Canyon Art Gallery, Tri Tech, K’s Diet Clinic, Southeast Lineman Training Center, T & T Golf Carts, Citizens Bank and Nightingale Opry are bronze level sponsors. Los 3 Amigos and S&L Tanning are associate level sponsors.
“I am humbled,” Blom said about the turnout in the planning phase. “I was very scared, but when we launched it, I held my breath. And we did it. We live by the conviction that if we are going to do something, we are going to do it with excellence.”
Blom continued, “To know that we are representing all of these people that have entrusted us, we want to make sure that we can give them the best service. If this goes off really well, we would like to see this grow and expand.”