Today, the City of Harriman, celebrated 21 years at David Webb Riverfront Park. And of course, the namesake and man behind the park – David Webb – was honored, along with friends and family who built memorials or gardens to make it the park it is today. This marked the 21st anniversary of the opening celebration on October 18, 1998. David talked about the history of the park and showed a slideshow of where it started to how and what it is today.
Interesting details about the park that I didn’t know – a $10,000 grant from TVA got the park started, while bricks used for the fountain came from the former Emory Gap School and flag pole from the old post office. A large number of businesses and individuals over the years have donated plants, playground equipment, materials, and labor; and specifically, the first piece of equipment for the playground was donated by Roane Medical Center and the entire property where the park is located was donated by Christmas Lumber Company. Dr. Julian Ahler was instrumental in building the gazebo where so many special moments have been made – whether it was the crowning of Miss Tennessee Polk Salad, being the backdrop for a beautiful wedding, or a celebration like today. It truly has been a community effort.
The Tennessee Polk Salad Festival was held in the park for many years in the spring and at one time was not only one of the most unique festivals in the region but also one of the most popular. People flocked to the festival to see antique cars, buy handmade and local goods, listen to bluegrass and gospel music, and of course – enjoy a mess of poke sallet cooked up special for the day.
There were other days where people flocked to the park – special Veteran’s Day ceremonies, Sunday afternoon concerts by the Babahatchie Community Band, movies in the park, and the ever-popular Cobbler Fest where you could try any flavor of homemade cobbler! And David Webb and his wife, Mildred were not only there to enjoy every moment but were also there ahead of time to get the park ready and do whatever they could to make it perfect for the community.
And that was in addition to David and Mildred running a large local country store – Rocky Top General Store. David has certainly left his mark, not just on the city and the county, but also on visitors and people passing through Roane County. He is the best ambassador for all things good in the county, and in fact, he had us set up a ‘satellite visitors bureau’ at the general store so he could provide brochures and information to visitors, along with his famous free popcorn. And if anyone had the pleasure of being there when a group tour bus pulled in – well you know, he loved having Rocky Top blaring from the speakers when the bus pulled in the parking lot. The store has sense closed to allow David to “retire” but all of us that know him know that word doesnt really exist for David. In fact, he already has ideas for what to do on the expanded property at the east end of the park under the overpass. He thinks he would like to build a waterfall for everyone to enjoy!
The park includes a walking trail, playground, pavilions (available for rent), park benches, fishing pier and a number of memorials honoring military, fireman, police and more. It is also home to Harriman’s Farmers Market held in the summer on Saturday and Wednesdays. For more details visit VisitRoane.com.