May 18–19, 2013
19th Annual Iris Festival
The Greene County Partnership's Iris Festival was created in 1995 and has become the community's major festival of the year, featuring more than 120 artists, craftsmen, merchants, food vendors and entertainers from across the country.
The festival is designed to offer entertaining local and regional talent, and is promoted as a juried arts/crafts festival. As a juried festival, participating artists and craftsmen must meet certain criteria and can only sell handmade items. All applications are reviewed by a committee, which studies submitted photographs and information before accepting or denying each applicant. This insures that all items are handmade and reduces duplication of arts and crafts. Click for application.
The festival traditionally draws more than 25,000 spectators who enjoy the aromas and tastes of dozens of delicacies from the festival's Food Court. Culinary delights have spanned the globe -- from China to Greece, with such taste-tempting items as gyros, bloomin' onions and tropical delights. Streets are lined with vendors specializing in down-home favorites like ice cream, fudge, fresh-squeezed lemonade and snow cones. Visitors also are drawn to the Iris Festival's entertainment and dance stages. The entertainment stage features blues, gospel, bluegrass and country music performers during the two-day event, and the dance stage is a crowd pleaser at the opposite end of the festival area, featuring a varied lineup of performances, including jazz and tap, square dancing, line dancing and clogging.
The Annual Woodcarving Show is held each year in conjunction with the festival, attracting noted woodcarvers from across the southeast. The talented craftsmen not only show and sell their wares, but also compete for prizes during the weekend.
The festival also features the Miss Iris Festival Pageant which has been held in the lecture hall of Greeneville High School. The pageant includes eight different age categories ranging from 0-11 months to 16 years old and older. Entry forms for the contest are available at the Partnership offices. Admission to the pageant will be $5 per person.
Hundreds of volunteers are involved in making the festival a success. Not only do they provide the manpower for the information booths, soft drink booths and festival memorabilia sales, they assist with the extensive decorating efforts that take place the day and evening before the festival. Thousands of yards of gossamer and ribbons enhance the stages, railways and light poles in the downtown area. Participating vendors often comment that they had never participated in a festival where so much effort is expended in decorating and making the event so attractive. Click to view photos.