Set for May 16-18, 2014, the three-day event kicks off at 5 p.m. on Friday with a catfish fry at the Mentone Pavilion and the Miss Rhododendron Pageant follows at 6 p.m. Last held in 1998, the Miss Rhododendron Pageant returns in 2014 providing young girls ranging in age from birth to 18 years old from Mentone and surrounding areas an opportunity to compete for scholarship money. The pageant will be held at the Mentone Community Church. From 8 to 10 p.m., there will be a free concert featuring Gypsy Begonias on the pavilion of the Mentone Inn and a bonfire behind the pavilion will light up the evening. The free concert is sponsored by One World Adventure Company, Mentone Reality and Mentone Inn.
The Rhododendron Festival gets underway at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Local musicians will perform throughout the day at the Brow Park Pavilion beginning at 10 a.m and slated to perform at this year’s event are Lisa Crow, Daniel Hughes, Jared Cushen, Amy Snider, Jess Goggans, Terry Hutcheson and Jerry Bloom. At 6 p.m., the outdoor pavilion at the Mentone Inn will host a performance by headliner Debbie Bond, the queen of Alabama Blues.
Saturday’s lineup also includes singers from the Liberty Baptist Church in Henagar who will be performing Sacred Harp music in the sanctuary of Saint Joseph’s On the Mountain Episcopal Church. Performance times are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2:30 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, Brow Park will be filled with over 70 artists and craftsmen offering their handmade creations and “Taste of Mentone” participants will have their staple dishes and new creations for festivalgoers to taste. Local eateries participating in the “Taste of Mentone” include The Wildflower Café, Hardware Café’s singing chef Jess Goggans, Moonlight Bistro, Twiggs at Kamamas, Mentone Market, Helena’s Deli and Cones of Mentone. The Volunteer Fire Department will also be selling their famous barbecue and there will be many other food vendors set up in various locations throughout the festival.
Located in the right parking lot of Kamama’s Art Gallery, the Children’s Festival has been expanded and highlights include a giant apple spinner, gyro, pony rides, and a dunking booth. The Valley Head fourth grade will be grilling hot dogs and additional entertainment include a magician creating balloon art, a new sidewalk chalk art contest and a “Hoops to Help” fundraiser for festival goers to make donations and to shoot hoops for the Jay Parker Darwin Memorial Scholarship.
There will also be carriage rides and scenic boat rides will be offered at DeSoto Falls from 1 to 7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Cost is $10 per person.
On Sunday, live music gets going at 11 a.m. at the Brow Park Pavilion and includes performances by Robby Jordan, Marc Womack, Curtis Strange, Silvia Constantino, Jess Barker and Larry Joe Hall. The three-day event wraps up around 4 p.m.
Mentone’s Rhododendron Festival is held in May each year when the spectacular clusters of showy blooms can be seen all over the town. The plants are typically at their peak around the third weekend in May, and the best place to view the blooms is around the lake on Little River above DeSoto Falls as well as around the mountaintop town.
The Rhododendron Festival is sponsored by Skelton Orthodontics, DeKalb Tourism, Wildflower Café and Country Store, Kamama’s Art Gallery, Mentone Realty, Custom Home Designs, Camp Laney, Camp DeSoto, Camp Skyline, Riverview Camp for Girls, Alpine Camp for Boys, The Citizens Bank, and Fort Payne Power Sports.
Admission is free. For more information, call DeKalb Tourism at 888.805.4740.