Local tourism businesses win merit awards

From Staff Reports

   As part of National Tourism Week Celebrations, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association held its 7th Annual Pinnacle Awards on Wednesday, May 12, in Kingsport.
   The awards recognize outstanding individuals, groups, businesses and organizations that contribute to the local economy through tourism.
   Three local Elizabethton tourism businesses won merit awards for their excellence this year. In the Hospitality Organizations Division of the awards, the Covered Bridge Celebration Committee was recognized for their submission of the 37th Annual Covered Bridge Celebration that takes place in Elizabethton every June. Keith Young, co-chair of the Covered Bridge Celebration Committee, stated, "Last year around 6,000 to 9,000 people came to the event. We're expecting even more this year."
   The Watauga Historical Association won a merit for their outdoor drama, "The Wataugans." A re-enactment of the Cherokee raid on Fort Watauga, "The Wataugans" is one of the longest running outdoor dramas in Tennessee. The president of The Watauga Historical Association, Sue Knoche, created the replica of Fort Watauga for the event. "I created the fort from sticks from Sycamore Shoals," Knoche said. The outdoor drama will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights beginning July 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.
   In the Attractions Division a merit was awarded to Wallygaggle Associates for their Angler's Guide to the Watauga River. Larry Verran, Riverridge Campground owner, and Theresa Nidiffer, Watauga Kayaks owner, started Wallygaggle because they needed a fun name to call themselves after they started the river race that takes place during Covered Bridge Days. Since then, they have teamed up to create the Watauga River guide map that was recognized last Wednesday.