Covered Bridge Celebration opens tonight with music

The 37th Annual Covered Bridge Celebration -- celebrating the 121-year-old white clapboard structure which spans the Doe River -- opens today. Presented by the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature nightly entertainment, activities for kids, a cruise-in, arts and crafts, and several new events in the downtown business district.
   Gospel Music Night will initiate the festival on the Elk Avenue Bridge with the Elizabethton First Baptist Choir performing from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Other groups scheduled to perform tonight include the Phillippi Male Chorus from 6:40 until 7:10 p.m.; Greater Heights from 7:15 until 8 p.m.; the Tennessee Melody Boys from 8:15 to 9 p.m.; and No Name But HIS from 9:15 to 10 p.m.
   Sponsors for tonight's program are White's Fresh Foods and Security Federal Bank. C. Keith Young, Director of Northeast State at Elizabethton, will serve as emcee. Young is also co-chair with Tom Tull of this year's celebration.
   Those attending the festival are invited to bring lawn chairs and spend an evening on the bridge with the groups as they perform traditional hymns and church music, southern gospel and contemporary Christian music.
   Beginning Thursday, Kids Island activities will be offered from 1 to 8 p.m. on Edward's Island located north of the Elk Avenue Bridge.
   Both the Elk Avenue Bridge and the Covered Bridge will be closed to traffic beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The bridges will remain closed until late Sunday evening. A section of N. Riverside Drive from Elk Avenue to E Street will also be closed to traffic.
   Elizabethton Deputy Chief Larry Shell said vendors usually set up on N. Riverside Drive, and on the west end of the bridge, necessitating the closing of a portion of Riverside Drive. Traffic will be able to turn south onto Riverside Drive from Elk Avenue.