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Party On! at Fun Fest 2017

Community contributor • Updated Jun 22, 2017 at 10:39 AM

KINGSPORT — With Kingsport’s centennial year in full swing, Fun Fest wants to keep the celebration going all summer and invites people to “Party On” at this year’s Fun Fest, set for July 14-22. Fun Fest Chairman Carlos Carvajal says “the theme encourages everyone to enjoy a fun-filled festival while learning more about our community.”

Fun Fest will have a complete range of events and activities for the entire community with more than 100 different events in more than 50 locations. Many favorites will return, including street parties, the parade, hot air balloons, the Sunset concert series and fireworks. The festival also boasts several new events covering a variety of interests.

What’s new?

Carvajal, innovation platform leader at Eastman, has been a volunteer for Fun Fest for the last five years. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, he brings an exciting engineering and global perspective to the local festival. He’s particularly excited about two events: Makers Faire and Busking around the World.

Makers Faire has grown over the last four years as an engine to encourage the next generation to learn more about science and engineering-related fields through multiple hands-on activities. Makers Faire kicks off after Breakfast with the Balloons on July 22 at the Civic Auditorium.

“We hope to gain some synergies between Kids Central and Makers Faire this year. We want to reach as many kids as possible and encourage them to attend both events and get excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” says Carvajal.

Busking around the World will showcase many cultures represented in our area. Street performers and artists known as buskers will fill the sidewalks and alleys of Broad Street from Church Circle to Main Street at the free event on Saturday, July 15.

Other new activities this year include:

BucFest, a cooperative venture between ETSU Allandale and Kingsport City Schools. Participants will take part in a “selfie” photo challenge at the schools during the early days of Fun Fest and then present those photos at a free mini festival on the ETSU Allandale grounds Thursday, July 20, 11 a.m. -3 p.m.

“Star Queen,” presented by Kingsport’s First Christian Church on Saturday, July 15, 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 16, 3 p.m., is a community gift in honor of the church’s centennial year. The musical follows the story of Esther, Mordecai and King Xerxes. Performers Tommy and John Oaks play all the characters and feature various musical styles.

What’s different?

A big change this year will be the relocation of the popular Kids Central event from Johnson Elementary School to V.O. Dobbins, Senior Community Center. Carvajal says, “This move allows us to utilize the Splash Pad and encourage neighborhood participation.”

On Monday, July 17, Kids Central runs as a late afternoon event (2-6 p.m.) followed by the Rhythm in Riverview concert that evening featuring the band Free Flow. Kids Central will run on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. SplashDance will be held on Martin Luther King Drive. Parking will be available each day at the Eastman Employee Center lot with walking access through the gate on Wheatley Street.

Also different for 2017, the Crazy 8s races, set for July 15, will have an earlier start time, with the Almost Crazy 3K Run/Walk starting at 7:58 p.m. and the Crazy 8s 8K race starting at 8:58 p.m.

What about block parties?

To celebrate Kingsport's Centennial, Fun Fest would love to have 100 block parties. Sponsored by Culligan of Tri-Cities, the official block party weekend is July 7-9. This first 100 registered parties receive a free block party kit as well as a confirmation letter notifying you that your party is an official 2017 Fun Fest block party along with details on where and when to pick up your block party kit. Never had a block party? It can be a private neighborhood gathering of friends, a public party anyone can attend or anything in between. Learn more at www.funfest.net.

When can I shop?

The Fun Fest Store opens Friday, June 23 at 9 a.m. at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, 400 Clinchfield St. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The store will be closed on Sundays and July 4. All merchandise and event tickets will be available in the store.

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