GATE CITY — Tourism and community events in Scott County are getting back on track in 2021 after the 2020 pandemic, although the world-famous Carter Fold music venue is still on hiatus.

However, plans are for live outdoor music to return to Gate City this summer, while other events for 2021 are still uncertain as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

Pam Cox, director of tourism for Scott County, said the musical mecca of the Carter Family won’t be back with live performances on Saturday nights until Gov. Ralph Northam reopens Virginia to such gatherings.

“It will open. That will happen with the governor’s mandate, the governor’s order, when that occurs,” Cox said in a phone interview. The venue closed in mid-March last year, when the novel coronavirus first gripped the region, country and most of the world.


The original Carter Family was front and center in jump starting country music during the Bristol Sessions in 1927 and subsequent recordings. Rita Forrester, daughter of Jeanette Carter and granddaughter of A.P. Carter, is the volunteer executive director of the Fold.

A.P. Carter, along with wife, Sara, and Sara’s sister-in law Maybelle, were the original Carter Family. Later, other members of the family performed, including Jeanette, a daughter of A.P. and Sara, and June, a daughter of Maybelle.

June married Johnny Cash. The two famously performed at the Fold and were known to frequent Kingsport antique stores, while Johnny once ate at Lynn Garden Restaurant.

Cox said that when the Carter Fold reopens, the plan is to do another Appalachia Rising event. Those recurring events, funded by the Virginia Tourism Corp., fund performances for well-known artists. Two years ago, it was Marty Stuart, and Cox said the hope is that Emmy Lou Harris will be the next performer for Appalachia Rising.

Cox said another music venue in Scott County, Allen Hicks Friday Night Jams in Nickelsville, also is in hiatus and like the Fold will return when the commonwealth reopens.

Cox said Hicks tried to start the open jam again but it didn’t work out.

Meanwhile, Cox said plans are for the Gate City music series to return this summer. Although dates are not yet set, she said they likely would be in July, August and September.

Other events, attractions

Natural Tunnel State Park will be open and having events this year, although Cox said plans for Duffield Days and Nickelsville Days remain uncertain.

Cox said the Creation Kingdom Zoo reopened the week of March 15.

Another event making a return this year is a 50-mile gravel bike ride called Kiss the Grit, which will be Aug. 9 and is sponsored by Spearhead Trails, Gate City, Scott County Tourism and All Trails Cycling.

In addition, Cox said the Scott County Fair is to be held the last week in August in conjunction with a horse show. The events basically replaced the old Burley Festival.

Friday, Aug. 27, will be fair exhibits and carnival rides; Saturday, Aug 28 the horse show; and Sunday morning, Aug. 29, a cowboy church service. They will be at the Scott County Regional Horse Park in Dungannon.

Also resuming this year are Camp Clinch, a campground which is reopening Friday, April 2; Something Squatchy, opening April 1 with tubing and kayaking; and Clinch River Life, reopening five primitive camp sites and tubing Memorial Day weekend.

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