TELLICO PLAINS-People in Ball Play are
ready to 'ramp' up spring activities.
"Ramps used to be really abundant,
but they've been over-picked in most areas," said Ballplay Ruritan
Club President John Pearson. "Now, there's a permit required to
Also known as wild leeks, ramps are
native to the eastern North American mountains. They are often found
growing in patches in rich, moist forest.
"Conditions have to be right for them
to grow," said Pearson. "They start growing while the trees are
still bare, but the minute the canopy of trees develop, the sunlight
is blocked and the ramps stop developing."
As one of the first plants to emerge in
the spring, ramps were traditionally consumed as the season's first "greens." These plants with their onion taste and strong
garlic-like aroma are only available briefly though, disappearing by
The Ballplay Ruritan Club will be
hosting the Third Annual Ramp Festival on Saturday, April 20, from 10
a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Friends Meeting of Ball Play Fellowship Hall
and grounds. Proceeds from the event help the organization with
"We've been expanding it a little
more every year," said Pearson. "They do big Ramp Festivals in
Cosby and Polk County. Three years ago, we only served the meal and
had no entertainment or vendors. It was just people getting together
and eating ramps. We've been growing it into more of a festival."
This year's Ramp Festival features a
variety of family activities, live music, vendors and local community
Scheduled entertainers for the event
include the Mountain Strings Dulcimer Group at 11 a.m., Mullins
Family Singers at noon, Kenneth Gay at 1 p.m. and Emi Sunshine with
Perfect Joy Revival at 2 p.m.
Pearson said there will also be more
vendors at this year's festival.
"We're growing a little at a time," he said. "If it grows too much this year, we may outgrow the
facilities and have to move to a larger area."
Organizers are still taking vendors for
the festival until the night before the event. Vendor booths are $10
for a 15x15 space, but vendors cannot sell food. For more information
on how to get a booth, contact Lynne Pearson at 423-442-7053.
In addition to a variety of booths,
including public service organizations and vendors, there will also
be a blood drive. The Medic Regional Blood Center Mobile Unit will be
there from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. All donors will be entered to
win a trip for two to Memphis in May's World Championship BBQ
Cook-off. The prize package includes two tickets to the event as well
as overnight accommodations and a $100 gas card.
Despite the expansion, one thing is a
constant: the ramps.
The ramp dinner will be served from 11
a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes ramps, fried potatoes, pinto beans, corn
bread, a beverage and dessert. A meal ticket for an adult is $7 and
children under 12 eat for $4. A child friendly meal of a hotdog and
chips will also be available, if desired.
This year, there will be a large tent
set up outside so attendees can enjoy music while eating their ramp
Approximately 300 people came to last
year's event, but organizers are expecting a larger crowd this year
if the weather is nice.
"Any time we do an event like this,
it gives people the opportunity to ask what the Ruritan Club is and
gives us the opportunity to get more people involved," he said. "We're always looking for people who have the time and energy to
give back to the community."
The organization gives out food baskets
for people in the community who need them during the holidays,
provides canning classes, holds a community picnic and participates
in a majority of community projects annually.
The Ramp Festival will be held rain or
shine and admission is free to the public. Friends Meeting of Ball
Play is located at 157 Ball Play School Road in Tellico Plains, just
a half mile west of the intersection of Highway 360 and Ball Play
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