Covered Bridge Days completes weekend run

Published 9:55 pm Monday, September 27, 2021

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Organizers “hit a home run” with Covered Bridge Days 2021.

The three-day event brought an estimated 30,000 people to downtown Elizabethton, where they enjoyed concerts; a. block party; a car show; fireworks; festival food; and much more.

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“Parks and Rec hit a home run, and I’ve never seen our entire downtown so crowded with folks having a great time,” said Elizabethton City Councilman Michael Simerly. “We were all hands on deck and all departments shared staff and it was simply an awesome job.  Tons of planning (went into this) and it came off great.

“I walked the entire town and the entertainment was great, the block party was a great new idea and the car show was a large turnout. I’m so proud of our little town and what a tremendous job that was done by the entire team.”

If the goal was to showcase all the community has to offer, the festival succeeded, he said. “We had a lot of out-of-town visitors stopping by the Park & Rec booth asking questions about the Covered Bridge,” Simerly said. “I even watched a young man catch a trout on a fly rod in the Doe! What a festival – I vote next year for two festivals (spring and fall).”

A big hit of the morning was the King and Queen of the Doe Pageant.

Winners for the boys were Quinn Martin,  Wee King of the Doe; Patton Baker, Tiny King of the Doe; Junior King of the Doe – Bryson Craft; and Jonathan Tyler Jones, King of the Doe. Girls winners included Delaney Banker, Wee Miss Queen of the Doe; Mattie Faye Higgins, Tiny Miss Queen of the Doe; Paisley Scalf, Little Miss Queen of the Doe; and Michaela White, Junior Miss Queen of the Doe.
Elegant Miss Queen of the Doe was won by Mary Bracale.

Throughout the day, attendees took time to stop by the booths picking up information from local businesses and churches as well as picking up some homemade goodies such as homemade jewelry, belts, floral designs, and wood carvings.

There was an ample supply of food available including pancakes, Italian ice, freshly popped popcorn, and Japanese food cooked on the spot.

Country music star T.G. Sheppard graced the Covered Bridge Stage on Saturday night to belt out some of his top hits, and fireworks closed out the day. The festival closed out as the sound of gospel music filtered through the afternoon air from the stage in Covered Bridge Park on Sunday.

The festival was moved to the fall because of the work being done on the Elk Avenue Bridge during June, and while some vendors were committed to other events, the atmosphere was still as fun and exciting as years past, organizers said.

“We had an incredible weekend in Elizabethton and are so thankful for the opportunity our staff had to plan and operate this event for our citizens and those throughout our region,” said Park and Rec Director Mike Mains. “It was truly an honor and we are so grateful to all the sponsors and volunteers that made this event such a great success.
“We tried our best to showcase Elizabethton, the beauty of our downtown, and the wonderful businesses and restaurants that can be found in our wonderful city. We greatly appreciate Courtney Washburn of Mainstreet and the fantastic job she did for us with the assistance of marketing and the Elizabethton Federal Block Party. It was a great success and added even more to the event. We are also very grateful to Lynn Richardson for her tremendous help and support as she assisted us in planning and the marketing of this event as well.”

Covered Bridge Days brought out the whole family to enjoy as parents found several opportunities for their young children to enjoy the festival as well.
“Kelly Kitchens, our Special Events Coordinator, put together a wonderful weekend for our children,” Mains said. “The event had a little bit of everything, but most of all, we focused on kids. That focus on our youth paid off as we saw a great turnout at Kids’ Island and the Youth Business Fair on Sunday was incredible. It was a special weekend for our youth and again, we feel very blessed to have been able to offer all of these activities for them.”

Mains was also appreciative of the way volunteers and businesses came together to make sure that after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 the community had something they could be proud of and enjoy.
“From the Carter County Bank’s incredible fireworks show to the wonderful entertainment we witnessed on our main stage, it was just a great weekend for all ages,” Mains said. “There are, of course, things that we would like to improve on such as the addition of more arts and crafts vendors.

“We knew three months ago that this was one area in which we would like to see more participation. It will be our goal to do everything we can to improve on those numbers and we certainly look forward to this challenge.”

Mains echoed Simerly’s earlier comments about the team effort involved in the weekend.
“I cannot thank our staff enough and the support we received from other departments within the city,” Mains said. “The leadership from the police, street and sanitation, fire, electric and finance departments was a difference-maker and we could not have done this event without their support.

“Their long hours of work certainly contributed to our success. We also want to thank our city manager, Daniel Estes, and the city council for allowing us this opportunity to serve our community and for the funding and support they provided as well.
“I must also thank all those within our Parks and Recreation Department who worked so hard to put this event on,” Mains said. “David McQueen and Garrett Johnson’s leadership of our maintenance staff did a wonderful job throughout the weekend. David Nanney, our recreation manager, booked our incredible entertainment and Derrick Vines worked tirelessly for our department on all aspects of this event.”

Mains also thanked all the sponsors for the event which included Carter County Bank, Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, Elizabethton Federal, Carter County Parks & Recreation Board, Elizabethton Star, WBEJ, Tour Carter County, Select Seven, Dr. Enuf, Life Care Center of Elizabethton, Goodwill, Northeast Community Credit Union, and United Way.

Main said plans will begin soon for next year’s event. “Over the next few weeks, we will meet as a staff and look very closely at this event,: what we can do better, future dates, how we can once again make lasting memories for our citizens. We are just very grateful to have been given this opportunity and we hope all that enjoyed Covered Bridge Days this year will visit us again in the future.”