Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

Franklin residents will once again be treated to free outdoor movies this summer. Last week, the Franklin Town Council unanimously voted to continue offering the outdoor movies series at town hall beginning in May.

“One of the reasons that we elected officials are here, is to make the people of Franklin happy,” said Councilman Brandon McMahan. “The outdoor movies program is a fantastic activity for families to have something to do on a Friday night.  I hope everyone will come out to enjoy the family friendly movies in the fresh air, and take time before and after to stroll downtown, and take in Main Street.  We very much appreciate David Parlier and Ruby Cinemas working together with us to bring this experience to the people of Franklin, and to former Councilwoman Patti Abel for spear-heading this project last year. I look forward to seeing everyone there!”

The program started last year when the town of Franklin partnered with Ruby Cinemas to offer outdoor movies to the public for free. The town was able to host two movies last fall, one in September and one in October, to test out the idea and with such a great response, plan to continue it this summer. This year, the town of Franklin will host monthly movies, the first Friday of every month, from May until October.

Like last year, the movies will be shown in the lower level parking lot of town hall which lends itself as a natural amphitheater. The area was landscaped last year with the removal of trees from the hill adjacent to town hall to allow for better viewing of the movies and more space for the crowds.

While the movies will be free to the public, the partnership will cost the town of Franklin $500 per movie. If weather allows all six scheduled movies to be played, the total cost to the town will be $3,000.  Ruby Cinemas will be in charge of set up, break down and staffing for the movie event. In addition, the movie theater will also be able to sell concessions such as popcorn, candy and drinks.

Because the movie series will span two different budget cycles, beginning with two movies this budget year, the town approved the funding of the May and June movies from the contingency fund in the current town budget. In the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2018-2019, the town will appropriate funds for the monthly movie as a regular line item under events and festivals.

The movies will always be family-friendly, and appropriate for all ages. The town will once again be responsible for picking the movies that will be featured and selections will be movies with a G, PG or PG-13 rating.

Town to consider allowing alcohol at festivals 

Town Council member Adam Kimsey asked his fellow board members if they could begin the process of exploring the possibility of open alcohol sales and consumption at festivals held in Franklin. According to Kimsey, he has looked at neighboring towns such as Sylva and Waynesville, who both have several events annually that include alcohol and believes it is something that could benefit the town. In Macon County, the town of Highlands also has events, such as a beer festival in Sky Valley and a Wine Festival in Highlands which generates considerable revenue for the town.

Franklin Mayor Bob Scott said that it would be more complicated than just a yes or no vote, and cautioned the town that the issue should be explored extensively and include a comprehensive plan. Town Attorney John Henning Jr. said that the town’s alcohol policies remain largely unchanged. The town of Franklin has long prohibited the consumption of alcohol on town property. When the Lazy Hiker leased the old town hall building from the town, the town amended the policy to permit the Lazy Hiker to operate on a town owned, but privately leased space. Aside from that, in general the town operates under a policy that alcohol consumption is prohibited on town property such as streets and sidewalks.

Kimsey would like to see that reevaluated and a policy adopted that allows for similar opportunities neighboring towns are experiencing. Last year, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce launched the Hook, Line and Drinker Festival, which after a successful first year, will hold the second annual event on Saturday, May 19. The event will be held from 12:30 until 4:30 p.m., at the Bridge Park Pavilion in Sylva, which is owned by the town of Sylva.

The festival features fishing guides and/or fishing industry vendors, food trucks, a farmers market from 9 a.m. until noon, children’s activities, craft beer vendors, and a pre-festival Tuck Trout Trot run/walk on Friday, May 18, at the Jackson County Greenway. A portion of net proceeds from the Tuck Trout Trot will benefit Jackson  County Parks & Recreation’s Outdoor programming, including the  annual “Fishing With Kids Day.”

In Franklin, private events are held such as Outdoor 76’s annual Beer, Bluegrass and BBQ which benefits Mainspring Conservation Trust. The live music and food event is held inside of Outdoor 76 with a music tent and tables set up in the adjacent outdoor parking lot. Motor Company Grill also hosts the annual Ruby Drop New Years Celebration which has alcohol consumption in a marked off area. This year, eight downtown businesses, including Rathskeller Coffee Haus and Pub, which Kimsey owns, will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Beer Trail. This is the second time a St. Patrick’s Day beer event was privately held in Franklin. The first event was well attended, but alcohol consumption was confined to within the participating businesses, which will be the case again this year.

The town agreed to begin looking at the existing policies, first by looking at what neighboring towns do.