City prepares for Covered Bridge Festival

From Staff Reports

   The city of Elizabethton is preparing for this year's Covered Bridge Festival, June 5-9, by making changes to traffic flow, re-vamping the 3K walk and 5K run, and gearing up for the second annual Wallygaggle.
   In terms of traffic changes, both lanes of the Elk Avenue Bridge will be closed from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, as well as all day Saturday from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. Each morning, Wednesday though Friday, both lanes of the Elk Avenue Bridge will remain open until 10 a.m., when the westbound lane will be closed until 10 p.m. each night.
   Only eastbound traffic from the downtown area will be permitted to travel across the bridge each day. Both lanes of Riverside Drive will be closed during the entirety of the festival, starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 5, through 5 p.m. Sunday, June 9.
   The Covered Bridge will be closed to motor vehicle access starting Friday morning, June 7, through 5 p.m. Sunday, June 9. To ensure the safety of citizens and visitors during the festival, the Covered Bridge Celebration Committee wants downtown visitors to plan alternate routes into and out of the downtown area.
   The second annual Wallygaggle River Run, to be held on June 8 from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., is a destination float that allows participants to collect points at five locations along the Watauga River. The float will start above the Siam Steel Bridge and end at Riverside Drive behind the ball park. Markers will be present at all ticket locations.
   Registrations can be picked up at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce or Watauga Kayak Tours & Outfitters. Parking is limited at the Siam Bridge, so participants should make arrangements to have someone drive their vehicles back to the ball park.
   The entry fee is $10 per boat, and the event is open to all applicants. All registrations must be turned in by June 6. Wallygaggle Tee Shirts will be given to the first 100 participants (captain and crew) while supplies last.
   Participants should have ample time to leisurely make their way to the finish point by 3 p.m., when winners will be determined and trophies presented. If all floats arrive at the finish point before 3 p.m., winners will be announced at that time. Floats arriving later than 3 p.m. will not be eligible to win. Prizes will be given to the top three winners.
   Participants must have a lifejacket and a craft that floats, i.e. tube, kayak, canoe, raft, john boat, or homemade craft. Registration and release forms must be signed prior to entering the water. Predetermined numbers in sealed envelopes will be read at the completion of the race. The boat captain with the closest number to the predetermined numbers without going over will win.
   There will be five stopping points along the river, and at each site participants will collect a ticket with a number. Once everyone has drawn their last ticket, the total of all five numbers will be added up. The boat with the closest number will win. Participants must collect tickets from all five points to win.
   A special prize, voted on by the hosts of each ticket location, will be given for the Wallygaggle Boat of the Year; the most creatively decorated boat will win. Sponsors for the Wallygaggle are Watauga Kayak Tours & Outfitters and River Ridge Campground.
   The 3K Walk and 5K Run will be sponsored by Sycamore Shoals Hospital and Sprint during the Covered Bridge Celebration. Registration forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce office. Registrants are to return filled out forms with the $7.50 registration fee to Evelyn Dugger or Sherry Toney at Sycamore Shoals Hospital before June 1. Participants may also register the morning of the race or walk on June 8, for a fee of $10.
   5K racers must register by 6:30 a.m. on the morning of June 8 at the corner of Pine and Elk avenue, just across the road from Picket Fence Antiques. 3K walkers must report in to the same registration table at 7:45 a.m.