FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — This weekend, the Park at Harlinsdale in Franklin will be filled with food trucks, family fun and plenty of music as the Pilgrimage Festival Music & Cultural Festival kicks off for the eighth year.
The festival, headlined by Chris Stapleton and Brandi Carlile, will also feature several small businesses based in the Nashville area, who will be selling their wares for the festival crowds.
The Nashville Blanket Project, Tye Dye Mary and Strings for Hope, all based in Nashville, will all be making repeat appearances at the festival in Williamson County this weekend. All three are looking forward to spreading the word about their businesses, making new contacts, friends, and enjoying music.
Marissa Barrett, co-founder of The Nashville Blanket Project, hopes sales at the festival this year will help her and her husband, Chris, reach their goal of gifting 10,000 blankets to those in need.
Marissa and Chris, both Nashville natives, started The Nashville Blanket Project in 2018 as a social enterprise – a company like TOMS that operates a buy-one-give-one charitable model.
“The Nashville Blanket Project’s mission is to keep Nashville cozy,” Marissa told News 2. “For every blanket sold, one is given to a neighbor in need. We partner with local nonprofits People Loving Nashville and the Community Resources Center to get the blankets out.”
Since its inception, the Project has given out over 6,000 blankets to those who need them in Nashville and in 2021 opened a storefront in East Nashville.
This year’s festival is the third one for the Barretts.
“We were vendors at Pilgrimage in 2019 and again in 2021,” Marissa said. “Both years, Pilgrimage was our busiest event and so well run.”
Festival sales were 10 times that of a usual weekend for the Project, something Marissa is looking forward to and preparing for by stocking up on new products.
Strings for Hope creates handmade jewelry made from recycled strings from guitars or other stringed instruments. The business also has a heartwarming mission of helping those who have escaped horrific situations.
“We’ll be bringing brand new fall blankets to the festival as well as our trucker hats,” she said. “We anticipate another amazing event with beautiful weather and an incredible lineup.”
Marissa added she hopes this year’s festival sales will help the Project reach its goal of giving out 10,000 blankets by 2024.
Emily Winters, CEO of Strings for Hope, is also looking forward to sharing her business with those making the Pilgrimage this weekend.
“Our mission is to empower and employ survivors of addiction, trafficking and domestic abuse,” Winters said. “We do this through a work development program where we train survivors in the craft of jewelry making.”
By using recycled musical strings, Winters said, the organization is able to keep thousands of pounds of old strings out of landfills each year.
“With every donation of old string and the purchase of jewelry, you are employing survivors,” she said.
This year’s festival will mark the fifth appearance for Strings for Hope, and Winters said she is also looking forward to the lineup this year, as it features a performer she enjoyed the last time he performed in Franklin.
“The best was when Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake performed together in 2017,” she said. “I am looking forward to seeing Chris again.”
The increased business is also a draw for Winters, who said the festival usually brings in significantly more interest and traffic and allows the organization to continue growing.
“Typically at the Pilgrimage Festival we are able to triple the amount we make in a normal day of sales,” Winters told News 2. “This directly impacts growth potential.”
She added she was looking forward to seeing all the people who stop by her Maker’s Village location on the grounds, educating them on the mission and history of Strings for Hope and enjoying the atmosphere.
For those looking to liven up their wardrobe with fun and funky colors, Mary Deprez has what they need.
Deprez runs Tye Dye Mary and is an expert in the art of tie-dying garments – for good reason: she’s been working at it for more than four decades.
“This is my 43rd year at my profession, and it is all that I do,” she told News 2.
Mary represents “an astounding backlog of expertise enjoyed by my thousands of fans and clients” through her hand-dyed clothing, accessories, home décor and other custom-designed items.
Her work has been featured in books, art shows, craft fairs and even music videos from some of Nashville’s favorite country stars. Alan Jackson wore a shirt she dyed in his music video for “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning), and Wynonna Judd wore a garment made from velvet Mary dyed during a 2005 concert taping.
This will be her fourth appearance at Pilgrimage, which she hopes will be even better than the others – including 2021, when she made record-breaking sales, she told News 2.
“We will have an outstanding array of all sorts of varieties and sizes, as well as color and pattern combinations, of pre-shrunk colorfast garments,” she said of her booth at the festival.