Covered Bridge Celebration a mix of fun and nostalgia

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, June 11, 2014

For the next few days, Elizabethton’s historic Covered Bridge will be the centerpiece of a summertime celebration that will include music, arts and crafts, festival food, and crowds of visitors who will take in the sights and sounds.
The 48th Covered Bridge Celebration will kick off this evening with a program of gospel music. And, of course there will be snow cones, funnel cakes, corndogs, and crazy potatoes, not to mention deep-fried Oreos and other greasy, sugary foods. It’s the one celebration that you can get your sugar and grease fix at one sitting.
The music is as expressive and pungent as the food. Tonight it will be hallelujah music accented with some handclapping and toe-tapping from the audience, perhaps sprinkled with a few amens and some hands lifted in praise.
The remainder of the week will feature bluegrass with a little twang, and some country and rock music with a little kick.
This hasn’t always been the Covered Bridge Celebration.
In the beginning and for many years, it was Country Music Days, and the celebration lasted all week. Also, for many years, the music was played from a stage on the Elk Avenue Bridge, which proved popular with spectators, who brought their lawn chairs and stayed the entire evening for the music and dancing.
Over time the celebration has evolved and the centerpiece is now the Covered Bridge, and rightly so. It is the town’s best-known historical landmark, and one that draws tourists from near and far. Many photograph it, others enjoy walking through the old structure. Still, others just enjoy viewing it with pride from the Elk Avenue Bridge. It has withstood the unkindness of time and nature.
The Covered Bridge has its own park and is part of the town’s linear walkway. The park is a favorite place for families to visit, and for children to feed the Doe River ducks. The Doe River below the Covered Bridge is an inviting place for youngsters to take a dip on a hot, summer day. It holds so many memories for so many people.
The old bridge is just three years away from its 135th birthday, and is deserving of a yearly party.
This year’s celebration has some pretty special events. Among them are aerial flights Friday and Saturday at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport, a 5K Run/3K Walk Saturday morning, a big yard sale Saturday on E Street, a Kids Catfish Tournament at the Workforce Development Complex, and a big cruise-in Saturday on Elk Avenue.
The more exposure we get in Elizabethton through special events like the Covered Bridge Celebration the better it is for our town coffers, our businesses and our mission of educating visitors about all the lifestyle benefits of living, working and playing in Elizabethton.
The Covered Bridge Celebration is a point of pride for Elizabethton. Local organizers are doing their best to make the celebration bigger and better each year.
As the Covered Bridge Celebration continues to expand its reach and its venues, more and more help will be needed. We often forget that volunteers play a big part in the success of the celebration. Many of them work all year long planning the events. As with all events, fresh ideas are always welcomed and are taken into consideration by the various committees.
Local residents need to support the celebration and have some fun right in their own backyard — and we hope others from the region and beyond will visit us for a dose of small-town charm as well.
In our opinion, the Covered Bridge Celebration is one of the unique things about our town and its people. It’s part of what makes Elizabethton so special. We may be small, but our people know how to get together and have a good time for the whole family.
Will we see you at the Covered Bridge Celebration for some good music and a funnel cake?

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