There should be plenty to do Friday and Saturday in Elizabethton, as one of the oldest and biggest annual festivals in Carter County combines with the newest and brightest public events in downtown.
The Covered Bridge Celebration will run for two days this year, Friday and Saturday, with most of the events centered around the Covered Bridge and the Covered Bridge Stage. Evenings on Elk will run from 5-9 p.m. Friday, with most downtown stores staying open until 9 p.m. and offering live entertainment and other attractions. There will also be an after party at Jiggy Rays and the Riverside Taphouse from 9-11 p.m.
As if that was not enough, the Carter County Car Club will hold its weekly Cruise-In on Saturday from 5-9 p.m. in downtown Elizabethton.
Although the Covered Bridge Celebration is a day shorter than it has been in the past several years, it is bigger this year, with every vendor space claimed. There is also a new payment plan so that children can ride all the rides in the Kids Zone without breaking their piggy bank.
There are two separate children’s fun areas this year. The traditional Kids Island on Edwards Island by the Doe River is now called Kids Zone and contains all the rides that cost money. But there is a special wrist band that can be purchased for $15 that will entitle a child to ride the rides all of one day.
There is another kids area that will be set up near Tetrick Funeral Home. That section will feature free stuff for the kids.
Of course, the best deal in town is the free music being played on the Covered Bridge Stage by some headliners like John Berry on Saturday and Jeff Woods on Friday.
The music gets started at 5 p.m. on Friday with High Test Grass. The Gate City, Virginia, bluegrass band started in 2016 and consists of Eric McMurray on mandolin, fiddle and vocals; Mitch Bentley on bass and vocals; Garnet Lester on guitar and vocals; and Kris Rasnake on banjo.
The Mountain Rose Band, from Roan Mountain, takes over the stage at 6:30 p.m. It plays a different array of genres, mostly rock and folk done with a bluegrass touch as well as some traditional bluegrass and gospel. It’s a little something for everyone.
The band has been around since 2006. Members include Rick Holtsclaw on guitar and lead vocals; Tammy Perry on banjo and vocals; Randy Grindstaff on bass and vocals; Jerome Webb on mandolin and vocals; and David Johnson on guitar and vocals.
Friday night headliner Jeff Woods takes the stage at 8.
Saturday night’s music gets started at 5 with Bill and the Belles. The group describes its style as a spirited sound that falls somewhere between old-time country and vaudeville from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
“We like old music and some of us are consumed by it,” lead singer and guitarist Kris Truelsen said. “But we don't have a desire to copy it. We want to sound like ourselves and tell our story.”
Johnny Counterfit takes the stage at 6:30 p.m. with his fast-paced parodies and voice imitations of such performers as Johnny Cash, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Headliner John Berry will close the celebration. He takes the stage at 8 p.m. Berry had his breakout decade in the 1990s, when he placed 20 singles on the country charts, six of which went top 5 and “Your Love Amazes Me” going to No. 1. He also received a Grammy for his participation in “Amazing Grace: A Country Salute to Gospel, Vol 1.”
There are several other events that are a part of the Covered Bridge Celebration. They include:
• The annual Covered Bridge 5K road race gets started early on Saturday. Registration ford the race will take place in the City Hall parking lot from 6:30-7:30 a.m. and the 5K race gets started at 8. Refreshments and awards will follow the completion of the run and walk. All funds raised will benefit the Sycamore Shoals Fund of Ballad Health Foundation.
• The Community Yard Sale will go from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday
• The Little Hillbilly Contest take place on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Covered Bridge Stage.