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Festival vendors have fair fare covered

Thousands of people come to the Covered Bridge Celebration every year looking for one-of-a-kind arts and crafts Photo by Brandon Hicksand to listen to quality entertainment.
They should also come with an empty stomach.
Close to a dozen food vendors line the food court area of the festival, offering food choices ranging from smoked sausages, turkey legs and chicken-on-a-stick to funnel cakes, doughnuts and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Vendors this year included returning favorites and newcomers, all on hand to satisfy the hunger pains and sweet tooths of visitors to the annual celebration.
One of the newcomers this year is Auntie Ruth’s doughnuts and pretzels, and it’s already gained a large following of festival fans with its freshly made fare.
“Everything is made from scratch,” said Cheri Smucker. “We mix our own dough and we do not use any mixes.”
Ken Packer has been setting up his booth, Packer’s Concessions, for the past five years offering “Gourmet Lemonade,” as well as bratwursts on pretzel buns.
“I started with the lemonade and it is 100 percent real,” Packer said. “It is sugar, water and lemon and I have real strawberries, cherries and raspberries to add in. The slogan is ‘the lemonade you wish your grandmother made’.”
Packer said he enjoyed the festival and thought the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce did a good job of setting up the food vendors.
“There are not a lot of repeat vendors,” Packer said. “Each one is good at their own thing. I love coming to the Covered Bridge Celebration. I love the people and there are a lot of loyal repeat customers.”
Kelley’s Concessions has also been a staple at the Covered Bridge Celebration for five years. The booth focuses on funnel cakes and deep fried Oreos as well as offering drinks.
“We make them the way people want them, fresh and hot,” said Wendy Watson. “It is just a good old-fashioned funnel cake.”
The vendors aren’t all out-of-towners: Some local businesses choose to set up a booth at the festival.
One of those, Lakeo Japanese Steakhouse, has been part of the festival for the past three years.
“It was recommended to us so we came out and set up,” said restaurant manager Lakeo Nakhonexay. “We tried it and we did really good so we kept coming back. Everyone is really friendly.”
The Covered Bridge Celebration continues today and Saturday in downtown Elizabethton.