Trail’s completion sparks series of events

Star Photo/Kayla Carter  Johnson City Golf Pro Mike Jennings and Elizabethton Golf Pro Vickie McClurg announced details about the Tweetsie Trail Golf Classic fundraiser.

Star Photo/Kayla Carter
Johnson City Golf Pro Mike Jennings and Elizabethton Golf Pro Vickie McClurg announced details about the Tweetsie Trail Golf Classic fundraiser.

All aboard! First stop, Elizabethton.

If riding along the entire 10-mile Tweetsie Trail from Hatcher Lane in Elizabethton to Alabama Street in Johnson City is not enough of an adventure, the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department has a whole series of events to celebrate the trail’s completion on Labor Day weekend. Johnson City leaders also announced details about a golf tournament fundraiser set for October.

The first Tweetsie Trail event will be a ribbon cutting ceremony set for Sept. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Elizabethton entrance on Hatcher Lane.

The next day will feature a treasure ride, treasure walk, city official bike challenge and a family celebration at Elizabethton High School that will conclude with a fireworks display.

The Tweetsie Trail Family Celebration will take place at the Elizabethton High School track and practice field from 6-9 p.m. This is where participants of the treasure ride and treasure walk will present boarding passes earned from participating in events earlier that day for a chance to win a prize.

During the 20-mile treasure ride, participants will have the chance to collect tokens from several depots set up along the entire trail. The ride will begin at Hatcher Lane and take cyclists to Johnson City, where they will turn around and come back to the Elizabethton entrance.

“We wanted to come up with events that would appeal to a wide range of people who enjoy using the trail,” said Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains. “This is not considered a bike race. We wanted this to be a leisure 20-mile bike ride for the advanced riders.”

Area bike shops have been asked to set up as depots along the trail, Mains said. A total of five tokens from each depot will earn riders a boarding pass at the finish line. This will automatically enter riders in a drawing for cash and prizes valued at a total of $500. No registration is necessary for the treasure ride, which will take place from 8-11 a.m.

For those who are daunted by a 20-mile bike ride, Mains invites them to come out for the Tweetsie Trail Treasure Trip from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walkers and riders may start at the Johnson City trailhead, but the Golden Trial section of this event is from Dixon Park to Harold McCormick Elementary School.

“Participants along this section of the trail will come across live music, businesses giving away promotional items and prizes as well as five historic Tweetsie Trail Depots,” Mains said. “Each depot will represent a unique treasure found in Elizabethton and Carter County. These items promote the quality of life and history found within our beautiful community.”

Simple tasks will need to be performed by participants in order to get boarding passes stamped at the depots. Once the boarding passes have stamps from all the depots, the participant will be entered into a grand prize drawing at the Tweetsie Trail Family Celebration.

In order to collect prizes, participants of all events must be present at the Tweetsie Trail Family Celebration with their boarding pass.

Details for the city official bike challenge are still being discussed, but Mains said he expects several city leaders from both Johnson City and Elizabethton to challenge each other to participate in a bike ride that day. This event is set to begin at the Elizabethton trailhead at 9 a.m.

Mains hopes this series of events entices more people to venture over to the Elizabethton side of the trail.

“We want the community to come look and enjoy the trail and visitors to stop to see what we have to offer,” he said. “This celebration will be a model to go by in coming years.”

Another series of events is set to take place in October, but it’s not a one-time celebration as organizers hope it becomes an annual fundraiser.

At a press conference Wednesday, Johnson City Commissioner Jenny Brock was excited to announce details about a two-day Tweetsie Trail Golf Classic set for Oct. 17 and 18.

Participants will have the choice to play at either Pine Oaks Golf Course or Elizabethton Municipal Golf Course the first day. Golfers will play at the other course the next day.

“The proceeds will all go to the Tweetsie Trail,” Brock said. “I think this will be a sell out.”

A few recent updates on the trail’s progress were shared by Tweetsie Trail Task Force Chairman Dan Schumaier.

“Yesterday afternoon, we finished the surfacing of the trail for the entire 10 miles,” he said. “What a major milestone in two years.”

There are also some other components such as signage that needs to be in place before the project is complete.

The downtown Elizabethton welcome sign was something Schumaier also wanted to address.

“Chris Cannon came up with a design, but he didn’t attend our last meeting,” Schumaier said. “This has to be approved by our committee. It has got to fit the criteria that we have for this trail. We will go through this same process with the Hatcher Lane trailhead sign.”

Schumaier does not think Cannon’s design will be approved by the committee.

“We’ve got other things planned for downtown Elizabethton,” Schumaier said. “We want to welcome the downtown Elizabethton sign, but it may be more of a railroad type sign. That would be more fitting for what we are doing.”

A lot of emphasis is being placed on keeping the elements of the Tweetsie Trail cohesive, Schumaier said.

Also, a Tweetsie Trail Conservancy has now been established, Schumaier said. This conservancy will handle all of the funds generated to support the trail in years to come.

“One thing about this golf tournament is that we want to be able to keep the trail funded so we can do other things,” he said. “We’re still talking about restrooms, water and signage.”

For more details about the golf tournament, go online to tweetsietrailgolf.org. For more details about the Tweetsie Trail Celebration, contact the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department at 547-6440.

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