MOUNT CARMEL — Saturday evening’s annual Mount Carmel Block Party will feature all the elements that have made it one of the region’s most popular festivals for more than two decades including live music, good food and cool cars.
Although the main portion of the block party begins at 5 p.m., the first event of the day will be a 3K Road Race through downtown, which begins at 9 a.m. at City Hall. Registration for the race begins at 8:15 a.m.
Everyone participating in the car show is asked to arrive downtown by 4 p.m. to register. It costs $20 to enter the car show, and instead of a judged contest this year there will be drawings and cash prizes for three lucky entries.
Another block party event is a group “motorcycle run,” which begins at 4:45 p.m. at the Yankee Bee-Line auto repair shop on Main Street on the far east end of town. Motorcyclists are encouraged to begin arriving around 4 p.m. to register. The ride will be a scenic tour through Hawkins County to Rogersville and back.
Motorcycle run participants are invited to enter a $10 drawing, with cash prizes divided among three riders.
The Block Party Committee keeps $200 from both the car show and motorcycle run to offset expenses from the festival and gives back the rest of the entry fees to the drawing winners.
The festival itself is located on Main Street in downtown Mount Carmel between the Hammond Avenue intersection and the old Food City parking lot.
There will be 15 different food vendors selling what Block Party Committee Chairman Terry Yankee describes as “festival food favorites.”
“We’ve got Italian ice, pizza, Momma’s Lemonade, Mexican food, funnel cakes, burgers, fries, hot dogs, ice cream — basically something for everyone,” Yankee said. “We like to have a variety. You won’t have trouble finding something good to eat.”
The main stage will be located in the parking lot of the Chris Raines Law Office and will feature bluegrass group The Shadow Drifters beginning at 6 p.m., followed by the rock ’n’ roll group Zaffire, which headlines the event beginning at 8 p.m.
Something different this year is a gospel music concert in the former Food City parking lot which includes three groups. The gospel concert replaces the block party’s long-standing karaoke contest.
“It’s primarily bluegrass gospel, and we’re looking forward to that,” Yankee said. “We’ve been doing karaoke since the beginning, and we just thought we’d try something different this year.”
There will actually be a third live music option this year, as Hawkins County Deputy and County Commissioner Stacy Vaughan presents his popular cowboy musical comedy show at the BB&T Bank stage.
The former Food City parking lot will feature inflatable attractions for children.
There will also be a professional wrestling exhibition.
“I’m not a big wrestling fan, but they put on a really good show last year,” Yankee said. “It was a crowd pleaser. They did some things that scared me. They jump right out in the parking lot on their head, and I thought, ‘Well, he’s dead. He’ll never walk again.’ But they got right back up and kept going at it.”
Fireworks will conclude this year’s block party beginning at 10 p.m.
Attendees are encouraged to park at the Oak Grove Baptist Church on Independence Avenue because a bus will be shuttling people back and forth between the church and the event.
Yankee also encourages everyone to bring their own lawn chair.