The celebration took a step up a few years ago when Elizabethton native Daniel Grindstaff returned to his hometown after a career in the entertainment industry. Although he has settled down to a second career as an insurance agent with Farm Bureau, Grindstaff has maintained his connections to the world of entertainment and has brought some top performers to the celebration.
Grindstaff recruited Marty Raybon to headline the 50th Annual Covered Bridge Celebration in 2016. Last year he brought Suzy Bogguss to the stage.
Grindstaff continues the trend this year. Doyle Lawson, with his band Quicksilver, comes to the Covered Bridge on Friday night. Billy Dean will be be the headliner for Saturday. No recruiting was needed for Thursday night's headliner. Local favorite Carson Peters will make yet another performance on the stage he has graced several time for the Covered Bridge Celebration and concerts in the park.
While the free music has always been a big part of the Covered Bridge Celebration, there are also lot of other things going on. There will be the annual free ice cream on Thursday afternoon when Food City once again sponsors the Ice Cream Social in the park for as long as the supplies last on the always warm evening. The social gets underway at 6 p.m.
There is another free event early Friday with Free Yoga at the Bridge at 6:30 a.m. The event will take place at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Hattie Avenue and is sponsored by Yoga Farm. There will be another free yoga session at Hattie and Riverside at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
The food vendors and the arts and craft vendors will open up at 10 a.m. on Friday in the same areas they occupied last year.
Another shopping event will also be repeated. The Community Yard Sale and Antiques will once again take place on E Street on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The Little Hillbilly contest has long been associated with the celebration and will take place on the Covered Bride Park Stage at 11 a.m. The event is sponsored by Double C Western Supply. Entry forms may be obtained at Double C and the Chamber of Commerce.
Another tradition that will continue is the 5K Run and 3K Walk, sponsored by Ballad Health. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday in the City Hall parking lot. The race will begin at 8 a.m.