City Council gives car show the green light to start in May

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, March 9, 2023

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Star Correspondent
A divided Elizabethton City Council gave the car show a green light on Thursday to continue hosting an event every Saturday evening this summer.
With a 4 to 3 vote, City Council approved the Carter County Car Club’s request to host the car show every Saturday, except the weekend of the Covered Bridge Days in September. The vote came after heated debate and several failed amendments to alter the car show.
Earlier this week, the Car Club offered a compromise with those against the event by hosting the car show beginning in May rather than April. The event is held every year through October.
The club has hosted the car show on East Elk Avenue in downtown Elizabethton since 2011.
“You really make such a great event,” said Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander during Thursday’s packed council meeting.
The mayor said the downtown area has changed a lot in the last 20 years and the car show has made a big difference.
“Our goal has become to keep great things downtown,” said Alexander, but he noted that growth has also created challenges.
The largest complaint regarding the car show is access to downtown, Alexander said.
The mayor clarified with those in the audience that the city does not want the car show to leave Elizabethton.
Councilman Richard Barker suggested moving the car show to a three-block section of E. E Street and use of a portion of Elm Street and Armed Forces Drive.
“That’s an alternative that may be warranted,” said Barker, who also read a study that he said showed that downtown business owners did not want the car show to be held on Elk Avenue every Saturday.
He also said the car show currently blocks travelers from reaching the Elk Avenue Bridge and Covered Bridge.
Councilman Mike Simerly said there are several side streets that travelers can use to reach the bridges. He also said one key to the car show being on Elk Avenue is access to the covered sidewalks.
Councilman Jeff Treadway said he believed the easiest solution to the issue was also moving the event to E Street. During the meeting, he also read several negative social media comments that have been made against the city, council and business owners regarding the car show.
“If we leave it there, we are working against ourselves,” Treadway said regarding the event.
Wes Frazier, another councilman, asked for more compromise from the car club and relocating the event to E Street. He also said he was upset with the comments.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Carter said the downtown area is having growing problems. The car show has been a success, he said, but there have also been several businesses and entrepreneurs that have opened up shop in downtown.
Carter said everyone should “grow together.”
Car Club President Thomas Franklin said the car show should remain on Elk Avenue. He said that E Street was not a viable choice due to a lack of bathrooms and canopy, as well as the street’s width.
Main Street Director Courtney Bean said there are businesses in downtown that benefit from the event, and businesses that don’t. She said there has been discussion among business leaders about whether the car show could be held less frequently, but noted that it does bring in people.
Angie Odom, a county commissioner and car show supporter, said council should not deny events that bring tourism to Carter County.
“Let’s not push any tourism out,” Odom said.
Before approving the car show, council members considered several amendments, but all failed. A majority of council members voted against moving the event to E Street every Saturday, moving the event back and forth from Elk Avenue to E Street every other weekend, and holding it the first of every month on Elk Avenue.

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