Festival coordinators across the region take planning day by day


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A festival that draws thousands to Johnson City is the latest victim of COVID-19. The Blue Plum Festival won’t happen for the second year in a row.

“That’s the hardest part because we want to have a festival as much as the community wants to have a festival,” said Caroline Abercrombie, the Vice President for the Blue Plum Organization.

Instead, they’ll give away grants in hopes the community will plan smaller events in June.

“Businesses, organizations, individuals can step up, decide what they love and want to share with their community and do it in a way that they can share it with others in a safe way,” Abercombie said.

Another Johnson City summer festival is in question. The Meet the Mountains festival committee said no decision has been made about this year. The city’s special events coordinator said he’s in contact with event planners.

“Maybe by the end of the year, we will be seeing some large-scale events,” said Andy Heuiser. “Until that time, we want to work with them in any way we can based on our parameters that we have to work within to still have a presence in this community.”

In Bristol, the Rhythm and Roots Reunion is set for this fall.

“We’re feeling very optimistic that we can have our festival this year and celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2021,” said Leah Ross, the executive director for the Birthplace of County Music. “Knowing that and knowing that it’s in September, we can’t wait very long so we’ve been planning for quite a while.”

In Kingsport – the city’s Racks by the Tracks event has been pushed back from May to this fall.

Organizers of Fun Fest – the region’s biggest summer festival – say they’re moving forward as if the summer event will happen July 16 through 24.

“We’re not of course planning as far out as what would be normal, ,” said Emily Thompson, Director of Fun Fest and Special Events for Visit Kingsport. “We’re learning to be extremely flexible and in some regards I think learning to be last minute if you have to be.”

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