Friday, April 3, 2009

Franklin Hosts Fifth Annual Hiker Bash

The Hiker Bash is ready to pop this weekend. Ronnie Havens has done a great job promoting this thing and turning it into an event. Appalachian Trail Hikers will be literally coming out of the woods to partake in the fun and games. I'll be there tonight (sorry, I have to work Saturday and Sunday) to help with the feeding of the masses. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of friends.

Here's the article by the MaconNews:

Thursday, 02 April 2009

Events will include town’s first-ever Hikers Appreciation Day
By Tony Wheeler Staff Writer
The Town of Franklin will sponsor its first “April Fools Trail Days” on Friday, April 3, and Saturday, April 4. The event will celebrate Franklin’s appreciation of the Appalachian Trail hikers, whether they are long distance thru-hikers, section-hikers or day-hikers. The event is a partnership with the fifth annual Hiker Bash hosted by Ronnie Haven, owner of the Budget and Sapphire Inns in Franklin.
Haven, an avid hiker himself, is dedicated to the AT hikers, and worked in conjunction with the town and the Main Street Program to consolidate the annual bash with the hiker appreciation days.
“This is the perfect place for a celebration of hikers,” Haven said. “Almost 2,000 people showed up for the bash last year.”
Franklin is located 100 miles north of the traditional Spring starting point of the 2,175-mile trail at Springer Mtn., Ga. The trail’s northern terminus is Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The trail runs through Macon County about 10 miles from downtown Franklin, at Winding Stair Gap. Haven said that at one time, before Franklin became recognized as hiker-friendly, the trekkers would resupply at Hiawassee, Ga., and not stop again until they reached Wesser, N.C., 14 miles west of Bryson City. He has provided free shuttle service to hikers over the years and is well-known along the trail, having contributed his local knowledge to a series of AT guidebooks. He once hauled a record 216 hikers from the trail to town and back on a single day, in April 2007. “I’m trying to do a good job of representing the town of Franklin to the hikers,” he said.
Ronnie Haven, owner of the Budget and Sapphire Inns of Franklin, is an avid hiker and Appalachian Trail enthusiast.The celebration starts on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. with a cookout and live music at the Sapphire Inn. Saturday morning, the day begins with a free breakfast for the hikers sponsored by the First Baptist Church. Then on to the Big Bear Shelter on the Greenway from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be food, entertainment by the Frogtown IV, educational booths from the Nantahala Hiking Club, the Appalachian Trail Conversancy and other organizations, book signings and hiker games. Bill Dyar and the Boy Scouts will set up their historical camping display. The Franklin community will get a chance to meet the hikers and learn about their experiences on the trail. Thru-hikers that have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail will be on hand to answer questions. On Saturday night from 5 to 9 p.m., the Sapphire Inn will again host food, live music, book signings and a talent show.
Linda Schlott, executive director of the Franklin Main Street Program, encourages the community to come to the Big Bear Shelter on Saturday for a day filled with fun, food, entertainment and a great learning experience. “We know that the Appalachian Trail hikers have a positive economic impact on our town and we want to celebrate that.”
For further details, contact Linda Schlott by calling (828)524-0476.
Admission will be $10 per person to cover entertainment and food expense at the events held at Sapphire Inn. There will be shuttles available from Fontana and the Nantahala Outdoor Center to and from the bash with Starlite Limo Service in Cherokee for a fee. Call (828)586-5466 for information. Budget Inn of Franklin, (828)524-4403; Sapphire Inn of Franklin, (828)524-4406.