Covered Bridge Celebration activities to include salute to 776th

By Greg Miller

Plans for the 37th Annual Covered Bridge Celebration were announced Monday at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce . Keith Young and Tom Tull are co-chairs for this year's festival, set for June 4-8.
   The festival will include a salute to the 776th Maintenance Co. held at the Carter County Veterans War Memorial on Saturday from 9-9:30 a.m. The efforts of the 776th and other facets of the military "make it possible for us to have this celebration, to be able to have something like this in safety and security," Young said.
   Nightly music on the bridge will last from 6-10 p.m. White's Fresh Foods and Security Federal Bank are the sponsors for "Gospel Music Night" on Wednesday. Featured performers include First Baptist Church Choir, Phillippi Baptist Church Male Chorus, Greater Heights, Tennessee Melody Boys and No Name But His. Young will emcee the program.
   Dance Explosion, Birch Spring Band, Bill McCall and Southern Country and Smokey Meadows Band will provide the music for Thursday's "Bluegrass Night", sponsored by Citizens Bank. Young and Josh Smith will emcee the program.
   Friday is "50s and '60s Night", sponsored by Carter County Bank. Performers include Watts Dance Studio Showcase Dancers and The Collegians Beach Band. Young and Smith will emcee the program.
   Saturday is "Country Rock Night", sponsored by Sprint. The Trailblazer Cloggers, The Dave Friday Band, and The Slapping Leather Dance Association will provide the entertainment. Tri-Cities Beverage, Northeast State Technical Community College, Gene Sams State Farm Insurance and Century 21 Whitehead Realty are the fireworks sponsors. Barton Edens will emcee the program.
   Maze Emporium, The Coffee Co., Duck, Duck Goose Cafe and Southern Restaurant are among the downtown restaurants sponsoring Breakfast in Betsy on Saturday from 7-10 a.m.
   A Firefighter's Skills Rodeo, sponsored by Carter County Motors, will be held in the Cat Island softball field parking lot Saturday from 1-4 p.m. "If you haven't seen anything like this before, this is going to be quite a treat," Young said. "Several of our volunteer fire departments are going to send four-man teams to compete in a skills rodeo, with various aspects of the skills that are required to become an effective firefighter."
   The firefighters will compete in a special soccer game, "involving a six-foot in diameter special soccer ball propelled by teams with a full blast of a fire hose."
   Sponsored by the Elizabethton/Carter County Tourism Council, The Covered Bridge Cruise-In will be held on Elk Avenue on Sunday from 1-5 p.m. About 110-120 cars are expected to be entered in the cruise-in, Young said. The Downtown Sidewalk Sale, sponsored by the Downtown Merchants Association, will be held during the same hours.
   The Covered Bridge Arts-and-Crafts Festival will be held Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. More than 70 vendors will be available.
   Kids' Island, sponsored by Sycamore Shoals Hospital, will feature various activities on Thursday and Friday from 1-5:30 p.m., beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday.
   A partial list of other Covered Bridge Celebration activities includes:
   * 5K Road Race (6:30 a.m. on Saturday) and 3K Walk (7:45 a.m. on Saturday), sponsored by Sprint and Sycamore Shoals Hospital.
   * Storytelling at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library on Thursday at 7 p.m.
   * The Third Annual Watauga Kayak Tours Wallygaggle River Run, sponsored by Watauga Kayak Tours and River Ridge Campground, on Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
   * Little Mr. and Miss Hillbilly Contest, to be held at Peebles Department Store, on Saturday at 10 a.m.
   * Neighborhood Softball Tournament, Saturday, sponsored by Life Care Center of Elizabethton.
   * Roan Groan Bicycle Race, Sunday, beginning at 7:30 a.m., sponsored by Tri-Cities Road Club, Nor-Well Co., and Hampton Trails Bicycle Shop.
   For more information, call 547-3850.