Fun Fest is an annual town festival consisting of week-long activities for all age groups.
Personally, my favorite memories of Fun Fest consist of the hot air balloon races, the town-wide scavenger hunts, and the concerts and fireworks serving as the culminating entertainment at the end of the week. All of these events still take place, as well as various cultural, culinary, crafty, and sports-oriented activities.
The "Taste of the Tri-Cities" event remains a town favorite--hosting around twenty different restaurants and eateries. Everything from seafood and barbeque to fastfood and ice cream are on offer, and the food festivities span over four nights. You can bring a blanket or fold-out chairs, find a place in the park to veg out, and just enjoy the sights, smells, and eats.
The concerts always take place at Dobyns-Bennett High School in the J. Fred Johnson Stadium. Boasting a variety of musical performers to fit all tastes, the entertainment fare is never shabby. This year's concert performers include Train, Martina McBride, and Mercy Me.
While researching the history of this festival, I learned some interesting facts. The first Kingsport Fun Fest was held August 8-15, 1981. The beginnings of this regional program are rooted in the idea of unifying a town divided by socio-economics, politics, and religious convictions. Staff and board members from the Chamber of Commerce discussed plans for bringing people together across their many divides to promote "a more positive attitude about the Kingsport community and a more friendly nature among its residents" ("The History of Fun Fest"*). What I especially like about this idea is that unity was the main goal, not tourism or economic gain (which, incidentally, was an indirect result of the annual festivals).
When I look at the Fun Fest website, I see a vast array of businesses, restaurants, hospitals, churches, universities, car dealerships, insurance companies, banks, and individuals all sponsoring, hosting, and helping with the organization of this annual festival. I know this cannot be easy or cheap to host, and many, if not most, of the events and activities are free to attendees. I think this truly vouches for Kingsport's love for and commitment to its inhabitants, and it makes me truly proud to call it my hometown.
FunFest has been taking place all this week and wraps up tomorrow night with its concert series.
Kingsport FunFest website: http://www.funfest.net/
*"The History of Fun Fest" retrieveed from FunFest website: http://www.funfest.net/