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Music and fun for everyone at Covered Bridge festival

John Thompson • Updated Jun 8, 2018 at 11:24 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The 52nd Annual Covered Bridge Celebration appeared to have something for everyone during the second day of the three-day event.

For music lovers, there was a free concert by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver during a pleasant evening after temperatures had reached the upper 80s earlier in the day.

The music lovers enjoyed performances by Hillbilly Bad and by High Test Grass prior to Lawson’s performance.

Lawson drew a large and appreciative crowd to the park. Earlier in the afternoon, the crowds were a bit sparse, but the vendors always seem to have plenty of customers. There were lots of arts and crafts vendors and even one booth shared by three local authors who were introducing the public to their literary works.

That booth was manned by Michael Manuel, Larry C. Timbs Jr. and David L. Browning. Browning is better known in the community as “The Mayberry Deputy.” All three men have written books and were autographing copies for their fans.

Manuel and Timbs worked together on “Fish Springs: Beneath the Surface.” Their newest book is “Justice for Toby,” another Fish Springs novel.

 Timbs has just written his latest work, “Unlikeliest Witness,” about a fictitious county “high sheriff” and his efforts to solve crime.

Browning’s book is titled “My Life as the Mayberry Deputy: We Have Extra Security Tonight.” It tells the story in words and photographs of his 25-year career of portraying the beloved deputy known to all fans of the Andy Griffith show.

Browning said the book was planned to be chock full of pictures. At the request of the publisher, he added most of the narrative and humor to the book.

One of the photos shows Browning in costume meeting Don Knotts, the actor who portrayed Barney Fife. It is obvious that Knotts was a fan. Browning said one of his most memorable experiences was being contacted by Knotts’ daughter after the actor’s death. She invited him to attend the funeral.

Another group that had a special place at the Covered Bridge was parents of small children. A free activity area was set up in the front lawn of the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Office with 23 community sponsors, each with a different activity for children.

Some of the most popular was the Cooper’s Gem Mine, which did cost $2 per scoop to mine for gems. Another popular place was the 4-H exhibit, where children were encouraged to celebrate June Dairy Month by making their own ice cream in plastic bags.

Kids could also get plenty of exercise at the Heart of Tennessee gymnastics section, where children could participate in high jump, rolls and other fun things to do.

Today is the final day of the festival. The kids’ activities will move to the Bonnie Kate Theater for more free activities and programs.

The headline act on the stage tonight will be Billy Dean. Bullseye Band and Rayon & Grindstaff will take the stage before him.

The celebration will end with the Saturday Night Fireworks Finale sponsored by Snap-on Tools.

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