ELIZABETHTON — The 46th Annual Covered Bridge Celebration will start Thursday and continue through Saturday, featuring plenty of music, activities, arts and crafts and food.
The centerpiece of the festival is always the landmark Covered Bridge and this year, there are two celebrations involving the bridge. The bridge is celebrating its 130th anniversary and it is also celebrating the completion of a major restoration.
The festival gets started with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the bridge at 3 p.m. Thursday. Special guests will be David Ornduff and Bill Kyte. An original load-bearing thrust beam had to be replaced during the recently completed restoration and Kyte has turned the wood into commemorative ink pens.
The community is invited to come to the ribbon cutting and enjoy live music by the Dennis Cove Band, participate in an auction of Covered Bridge memorabilia, including some of Kyte’s pens, some original nails in the bridge and signed paintings of the bridge.
The music celebration begins Thursday night with “Gospel Night” sponsored by East Tennessee Sports Complex. It will feature Russell Moor and IIIrd Tyme Out. The audience will be treated to an old-fashion “ice cream social” sponsored by Food City at 5 p.m.
Friday night will be “Country Night” sponsored by Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon. The night will feature Jamie O’Neal and Hillbilly Bad.
Saturday night will be “Rock Night” sponsored by Dr. Enuf Tri-Cities Beverage. The night will feature the Jerry Pierce Band, and the old standbys of the celebration’s rock and roll night, The Collegians. This will be the final year to hear the Collegians. They will be retiring this summer.
The celebration will include some of the area’s best dance groups, including the Mountain Rhythm Cloggers, Watts Dance Studio, The Dandelion Dancers and the Trailblazer Cloggers.
Kid’s Island is a place where children can enjoy the celebration. Activities include train rides, carnival games, face painting, inflatable rides, rock climbing, fishing and bungee jumping.
Kid’s Fishing Day will be Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The Little Mr. and Mrs. Hillbilly Contest, sponsored by Walmart, will take place Saturday on the Festival Main Stage at 11 a.m. There is a $10 registration fee. Trophies will be awarded. Applications can be picked up at the Chamber of Commerce.
The community wide yard sale presents another venue for shopping. The sale will begin at 8 a.m. and go until 2 p.m. Saturday.
One other popular event will be returning this year. Closing fireworks will be presented, sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee at 10 p.m. Saturday.