Attendance records were set this past weekend during Hot Springs Community Trailfest, held Friday through Sunday, April 19-21. More than 100 thru-hikers were in town for the festival, which catered to both hikers and non-hikers alike. All proceeds from the event went to the Hot Springs Community Learning Center, a non-profit organization that serves children ages three to 12 with preschool, transitional kindergarten, an after-school program, out-of-school care, and holiday and summer camps.
The weekend kicked off on Friday with a spaghetti dinner (that sold out!) and storytelling by North Carolina resident Amy Allen, author of Summoning the Mountains. (Amy hiked the A.T. in 2006; definitely check out her book, which chronicles her completion of the Trail right before turning 40.)
Events on Saturday included plenty of activities especially for thru-hikers, such as hiker games, an ice-cream eating competition, and a talent show, which featured lots of great singer/songwriter acts. Hot Springs was also excited to welcome A.T. hikers participating in the Walk Off the War Program, designed to support veterans transitioning from military service. These Warrior Hikers were honored during a town parade on Saturday afternoon.
Trailfest concluded on Sunday with a pancake breakfast and an afternoon soccer game, which continued to engage both hikers and community members.
A.T. hiker Moose summed up the weekend perfectly. While talking to Randy Anderson (aka “Chuck Norris”) of the Hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge, she commented that the weekend was perfect – not only because of the weather, but because of the fun yet relaxing atmosphere that Trailfest allowed.