They came from across the entire Smoky Mountain region and even as far away as Texas. More than 3,000 people attended the first-ever Smoky Mountain Elk Fest at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds in North Carolina. Why? They gathered to celebrate a growing elk herd successfully restored to its historic range, with the assistance of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, nearly two decades earlier.
“RMEF is immensely proud of this inaugural festival that was 18 years in the making,” said Steven Dobey, RMEF conservation program manager. “Attendance far exceeded expectations and this was a testament to the public’s support of historic and ongoing management of elk in the Smoky Mountains.”
The Smoky Mountain Elk Fest was a family-friendly event full of music, entertainment, craft vendors and educational demonstrations. Attendees also found great food and drinks, guided hikes, creek-side demonstrations, wildlife artists, crafts and kids’ activities.
“RMEF and its dedicated volunteers were very influential in making the Elk Fest a reality. We are making conservation history!” said Kim Delozier, RMEF conservation program manager.
Billed as a one-day event open to the public, Elk Fest festivities actually began the night before with a “Taste of the Wild” dinner open to all who purchased a ticket. Proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction supported the Elk Conservation Fund, established specifically for the festival.
(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
(Video source: WBIR-TV)