The Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival returned to Franklin on September 24 and 25. Pilgrimage, like any other festival, is where people can come together to experience a day’s worth of non-stop live music.

However, many people don't consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making the festival engaging to its audience beyond the music scene.

Maker’s village was the place to be if you were looking for a souvenir or something unique to add to your closet. The marketplace featured a diverse lineup of vendors with pieces made to catch the eye.

Sunny Life Hats was ready to help festival-goers beat the heat with their handmade hemp hats. Brianna Vandenberg worked her tent with ease while she explained how Pilgrimage impacted business.

“This has been one of our better festivals. I thought it was gonna be smaller and quieter, stuff like that, but we’ve been busy,' said Vandenberg. 

This is Sunny Life Hats’ second time attending the festival after experiencing success from their first year, and they aren’t the only ones.

Textile Revival, from Leiper's Fork, returned with a variety of story-filled fabrics. Owner Cindy Sarver has a passion for breathing new life into old things.

For Sarver, Pilgrimage is a way to make connections with customers who can’t come to her store.

“It’s not all about the sale. It’s about having people that know and appreciate your craft,” said Sarver.

For nine-year-old Audrey Fender, that craft is guitar pick jewelry. Hailing from Augusta, Georgia, Aubrey’s Creations made its way to Pilgrimage for the first time. The business was founded in 2021 by Fender.

“One day, I was getting ready for my ukulele lessons, and I saw a guitar pick that said fender on it like my last name. I really wanted to make it into an earring, and the next day everyone was asking where I got it.”

As her business has grown, the Fender family decided it was time to try a bigger festival. After being accompanied by her father and brother the previous year, the family knew it was the perfect fit.

Long-time Pilgrimage attendees, Cement6, works with artisans in Cambodia to create handmade, sustainable fashion for the consumer.

The Nashville-based business attended Pilgrimage for their sixth year. Co-owner Jeremy Temple cited Pilgrimage as their best show for sales because of the outside traffic it attracts.

“I’ve talked to people from Ireland, the UK, Montana, Iowa, all these different places, and they all come here [to Franklin] for this,” said Temple. “I never thought about it because this is where I live, but people travel from far away for the sound.”

Many returning vendors have found Pilgrimage to be a large success considering their portion of sales made from traveling to festivals and events. First-time vendors arrived to Pilgrimage with the intention of spreading their name.

Music City Record Art is not only new to the festival world but is also a new business. The business paints old records while preserving the vintage labels.

Co-Owner Seth Webber said that Pilgrimage has been a learning experience.

“We didn’t make what we thought we would, but we did make out rent.”

When asked what she would’ve done differently, co-owner Sofie Whitlock said they should’ve brought better equipment to showcase their art.

“We’re probably gonna do it again and have a better set-up,” said Whitlock.

Pop artist Lauren Ross Simmons traveled from Shreveport, Louisiana to showcase her art after a friend convinced her to apply as a vendor.

“I do more art festivals than music festivals, so this is my first time to check this scene,” said Simmons.

Simmons said the event helped her connect with businesses and designers that are outside of her usual scene.

Music may be the main attraction, but Pilgrimage curates a cultural experience through its vendors and community.