Author: Sharon Webb
Deep in the heart of the southern Appalachian Mountains lies Roan Mountain, the second-highest peak east of the Mississippi and home to one of the most breathtaking, naturally recurring phenomenon in the world: 600 acres of Catawba rhododendron that bloom each year in mid-June. In an effort to promote tourism and draw attention to this area, North Carolina and Tennessee joined together to form the Rhododendron Festival in 1946. As attendance increased, it soon became necessary for each state to hold a separate festival, and in 1952, the first North Carolina Rhododendron Festival took place. Since then, Bakersville, a village nestled at the base of Roan Mountain, has hosted the North Carolina Rhododendron Festival. Visitors and locals gather to pay homage to one of nature’s most magnificent wonders. After nearly seven decades, the festival continues to hold the distinction of being among the oldest and most respected festivals in the Southeast, confirming its potential to endure as long as the mountain itself.
Sharon Webb is a native of Bakersville and a long-standing member of the North Carolina Rhododendron Festival committee. Her hope is that the images shared in this work will inspire and preserve a passion and love for all things “rhododendron.”