The 30th annual Running Water Powwow Cherokee Homecoming and Ripe Corn Festival returns to Ridge Ferry Park this Saturday and Sunday. More than 90 people are already registered to participate in the Native American dance competition which is always a highlight of the event.
The event has also drawn more than 40 vendors this year, offering everything from hot buttered ears of corn to funnel cakes to Native American trinkets.
Organizer Jessi Mantooth, a native of Cave Spring with both Cherokee and Creek blood, said the Head Man dancer this year will be Robin Jumper from Cherokee, North Carolina, and Nicole Williams, from Weaver, Alabama, will serve as the Head Lady dancer.
Mantooth said the organizers are committed to keeping the annual festival going in Rome because of its importance in offering visitors a glimpse into Native American culture.
“There are not too many places you can go besides a museum and this is real, live, happening right in front of you,” Mantooth said. She explained that dancing is a major aspect of native culture across the tribal spectrum.
Representatives from the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw and Navajo tribes will be represented along with others. A delegation of Aztec dancers have also made an appearance at the Ripe Corn Festival the last several years and will be back again this weekend.
Festival hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The grand entry dance will take place at 1 p.m. each day. A second grand entry dance will be held Saturday night at 7 p.m.
All activity will be held in the northern section of Ridge Ferry Park closest to the Major Ridge Home/Chieftains Museum.
The primary dance competition will take place Saturday with children and youth following the 1 p.m. entry, and adult dancing following the evening entry.
Admission is $5 for youth 6-18 and college students with ID. Adults 19-64 is $10. First responders and active duty military personnel can get in free. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chair to be more comfortable during the event.