‘Outstanding’ entertainment, new features planned for Covered Bridge Days 2022

Published 12:24 pm Thursday, September 1, 2022

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In their second year of leading Elizabethton’s long-running and popular Covered Bridge Days festival, members of Elizabethton’s Parks and Recreation Department say they are excited to do it all again this fall, September 23-25.
Last year was the first time the city’s Parks and Rec department had led the event and interest in the festival has seemed to have exploded. Last year saw a large increase in festival attendees and food truck owners and vendors took notice. This year the number of food trucks at the festival has doubled, and the number of vendors has almost tripled.
“We are full up,” said Mike Mains, Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Director, calling last year’s event “a great success.”
“We created those memories that we need to create for families,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we had lots of free things for kids to do and that will continue. We also wanted to grow our successes. This year, we are doing that, especially in the entertainment, which has been taken up a notch with outstanding, well-known performers. Dave (Parks and Rec Assistant Director, David Nanney) has done an amazing job booking the entertainment for this year’s festival.”
The Parks and Rec team is anticipating record attendance for Main Stage entertainment including the Grascals on Friday night, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder on Saturday night and The Isaacs on Sunday. In response, they will be providing additional seating in the Covered Bridge Park and along the Doe.
Covered Bridge Days visitors can also expect some fun new additions to last year’s popular attractions.
A “Love the Butterflies” exhibit will be making its first time appearance at Covered Bridge Days this year. The exhibit will allow visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with the brilliantly-colored monarch, the long distance painted lady and the large and colorful swallowtail butterflies.
Visitors can also learn more about butterfly migration, pollination and the importance of butterflies to the environment. Feeding sticks will be available so that guests can feed the butterflies and let them land on them. Then at the end of the festival, all the butterflies will be released into the Elizabethton sky.
Also new this year will be Friday’s Touch-a-Truck event on the Elk Avenue Bridge. Beginning at 11 a.m. visitors can get an up close and personal look at an array of trucks, including fire, police and national guard vehicles.
“We wanted to have something additional on Friday during the day since school is out that day,” said Nanney.
Popular “pay-to-play” attractions such as hydroball, air trampoline, electric animal rides, will return, but Kids Island will feature dozens of free attractions including inflatables, character meet and greets, magic shows and the “ever-famous” foam party.
Some entertainment that was on “Betsy’s Back Porch” last year will be moving to the Elk Avenue Bridge Stage this year, including the Miss and Mister Covered Bridge Days Pageant set for Saturday morning, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.  The pageant will be followed by performances by Appalachian Irish Dance Company, Covered Bridge Cloggers, Watts Dance Studio and the East Tennessee Ballet Company. Young entrepreneurs will be featured on Sunday afternoon at the Youth Business Fair.
Main Stage entertainment will kick off in Covered Bridge Park on Friday at 6 p.m. with Tim Decker and Tennessee River, followed by the Grascals, a group with three Grammy nominations and two Entertainer of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association.
On Saturday, Main Stage entertainment begins at noon with Downtown Country, followed by the Bullseye Band. Songs of the South will open for multi-award winning musician, Ricky Skaggs, who will take the stage at 8 p.m.
Sunday entertainment will feature One Church Worship at 2 p.m., followed by members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, The Isaacs, at 4 p.m.
In addition, there will be a Block Party on the Third Block of Elizabethton, hosted by Main Street Elizabethton, and for the first time, two ticketed kick-off concerts at Elizabethton High School’s Citizens Bank Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday, September 21 and 22, featuring Crowder and Big Daddy Weave on Wednesday and Dylan Scott and Kip Moore on Thursday — events led by the city of Elizabethton.
All entertainment during Covered Bridge Days on stages near the Covered Bridge Park, Friday through Sunday, is free.
“We are excited to be offering things to our community that will be not only taking care of our own, our local folks, but also will allow us to become a regional draw to this area. We want to showcase our city in a park that is something really beautiful,” Mains said.
“When Ricky Skaggs takes that stage…he’s going to look around and see those fans and that beautiful river. I want performers like him to recognize events like Covered Bridge Days and Covered Bridge Jams, and want to come back to perform for our folks.”

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