Whoever screamed the famous line,
"There's gold in them there hills!" may have been onto something.
Organizers in Coker Creek are preparing for the 45th annual Autumn Gold Festival, one of the
most popular events in Monroe County and the sole fundraiser for the Coker Creek Ruritan Club.
"It really is the only income we have except donations," said
The two-day festival brings crafters, artists,
food vendors, entertainers and more to the Coker Creek Community. This year's festival is scheduled
for Saturday, Oct. 12, and Sunday, Oct. 13, on the grounds of Coker Creek Elementary School and
the nearby Ruritan Club.
"It's our second year at this
location, and we're side-by-side with our Ruritan building," said Murphy.
Adult tickets to get into the festival are $3, senior citizens are $2
and children tickets are $1. Children ages 6 and under get in free. Gates usually open around 9:30
a.m. and close around 5 p.m.
Organizers are hoping 100 or more
artists and crafters will be in attendance. Vendors will be lined around the school's walking trail
so visitors can walk on pavement, no matter the weather conditions.
"Anyone that has handmade crafts, we'd love to see them there," said Murphy.
The festival will also feature historic demonstrations and the crowd
"I guarantee there will be gold found in
it," said Murphy.
By having the Gold Festival on the school's
campus, the Ruritan Club is able to utilize their own building, as well.
"Food will be served out of the dining hall in the main Ruritan Club
building," said Murphy. "We're going to have inside facilities to sit down and eat, or guests can
take their food outside and eat."
In addition to arts and crafts
vendors, a variety of food vendors will also be in attendance.
"Some do funnel cakes and different things that we don't handle," said Murphy.
In addition to using the building for food, the Ruritan Club will use
their own stage, located directly behind the building, for live music and the annual queen
The crowning of the Autumn Gold Festival Queen is a
highlight of the annual two-day festival. This year's queen contest will be at 1 p.m. On Sunday,
Oct. 13. An Autumn Gold Festival queen, junior queen, princess and doll princess will be
Costumes for the queen contest can be from any era of
American heritage. Judges will select the winners based on authentic, old-fashioned costumes,
accessories, poise and presentation. There will be an overall winner and two runner-ups from each
of the four categories. The contest is open to any girl, no matter where she if from or how old she
is. There is no charge to participate.
pre-register for the competition by calling Wanda Murphy at 423-261-2236, or they can register the
day of the event. Contestants are asked to arrive by noon on the day of the contest.
Each afternoon of the festival at 2 p.m., live entertainment will take
the stage to perform. This year's line-up includes Wandy Murphy and Mountain Harmony on Saturday
and Kindrid Spirit Vocal Band on Sunday.
Festival proceeds help
the Coker Creek Ruritan Club help families in need, sponsor community groups, such as the local
Boy and Girl Scout troops and the area Fire Department. In addition, the funds help those in the
community and provide scholarships each year to graduating students from the Coker Creek area.
"People don't realize sometimes what our organization does,"
Murphy told The Advocate & Democrat. "The community has always helped support us and we've
always supported the community."
There are no paid positions
within the Ruritan Club and all the funding goes back into the community.
"It's a club effort," said Murphy.
Vendor applications must be approved in advance of the festival. For more information about
booths, call Greta Murphy at 423-261-2242. For more information about the Autumn Gold Festival or
the Coker Creek Ruritan Club, contact Ralph Murphy at 423-261-2236.