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Let the Fun (Fest) begin!

Editorial Board • Jul 13, 2018 at 12:04 PM

It’s that time again. What started as a small group of people chatting about how to promote community unity and foster harmony and fellowship long ago has turned into one of the premier events in the Southeastern United States.

Fun Fest is upon us.

Over four decades, Fun Fest has become Home Week for Kingsport with family reunions planned around its more than 100 events. And it all kicks off today with the Fun Fest parade from 6:30 to 8 p.m. presented by Food City, beginning at Clinchfield and West Center Street.

Immediately following is the Broad Street Boogie featuring Members Only, the nation’s premier ’80s tribute band. Saturday brings the 14th Crazy Cardboard Boat Race at the Kingsport Aquatic Center, the Fun Fest car show, Netherland Inn and Victoria Hammond House tours, and the Fun Fest 3K Run/Walk.

The annual Breakfast with the Balloons and Hot Air Balloon Rally, this year’s premier concert featuring The Avett Brothers, and the Eastman Fireworks Spectacular are all next weekend. In between are more events than you can count, including softball tournaments, the community worship service and Allandale open house.

There’s also Farm Fest, the Miss Kingsport/Sullivan County Pageant, Fun Fest for the Elderly, pottery painting, the picnic for the physically and mentally challenged, Rhythm at Riverview, the pet dog show and silent movies night.

And don’t miss the photography workshop, wolf run, community square and round dance, comedy night, splash dance, walk through history, giant outdoor movie, and the ever popular Taste, with dozens of vendors offering all manner of foodstuffs.

There also are concerts galore. Fans of contemporary Christian and rock music will be pleased with this year’s Fun Fest Sunset Concert Series lineup, which features headliners Casting Crowns, The Avett Brothers and duo Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo.

Christian praise band Passion will open Thursday night’s contemporary Christian concert. The band is known for a multitude of chart-topping singles. Casting Crowns, a Christian rock band, will be the headliner of the Thursday night concert. The group is known for some of the most compelling Christian songs of this generation.

Rock duo Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo will headline the Friday night concert, sponsored by Appalachian Power, Domtar and WQUT. Benatar and Giraldo have formed one of the most successful partnerships in music history. During their nearly four-decade career, they have won four consecutive Grammy Awards, as well as three American Music Awards.

Fun Fest 2018 will conclude on Saturday with American folk rock band The Avett Brothers. The band combines bluegrass, country, punk, pop melodies, folk, rock ’n’ roll, indie rock, honky-tonk and ragtime to produce a unique sound. Their latest album achieved the group’s highest debut to date and dominated multiple charts. It was also nominated for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Performance for last year’s Grammy Awards.

Festival-goers should note a few changes to this year’s concert series including a clear bag policy for the stadium concerts. As events strive to provide increased safety to all participants and the community, more and more festivals and venues are moving to a policy for items allowed inside events. This year, coolers are not allowed in the stadium, and all items will be subject to search. Clear bags should not exceed 12x6x12 inches, and approved bags will be available for purchase outside the stadium.

You can find the full schedule of events at funfest.net where you can make your plans for the entire week with a full slate of arts and entertainment events for all ages.

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