KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Fun Fest Store officially opened Friday to kick off preparations for the nine-day event in July.

Organizers told News Channel 11 that the store opening means Fun Fest has basically already started. They hope to draw out the festival beyond just the nine days by creating more hype than in past years.

“Suddenly it feels like it’s very close when the store opens it’s real. It’s out there that means the schedule is out it means the shirts are on the street. So to us, Fun Fest has begun,” Emily Thompson, Fun Fest Director said.

The 41st anniversary of Fun Fest prompted many vacation plans, according to Director of First Impressions Karen Redman, who has worked on Fun Fest for 34 years.

“I have people call me all year long asking me when Fun Fest sets another date for the next year,” Redman said. “They want to know when it is because they’re putting them for their vacation time. So they want to know cuz lots and lots of people do the vacation for Fun Fest.”

From shirts to accessories, the store sells an array of memorabilia.

“I like all the little trinkets that they have,” Redman said. “I got one for my phone to put my card in and stuff but I just like the different variety of things that they offer.”

Last year was the first time Fun Fest organizers opened sales up online to accommodate those still in the throes of the pandemic.

“Buy your stuff now — it can run out, we proved that last year. We certainly hope that we’re able to provide a shirt for everybody, we’d like you all to come in and get one,” Thompson said.

The festival has a great economic impact on the Model City, drawing people from several states.

“Especially since they found out that Lynyrd Skynyrd is going to be here this year. My phone is ringing off the hook – they ask ‘Is it true that Lynyrd Skynyrd or isn’t it?’ and I’m like ‘yes, it’s really true.’ And they really flip out when I tell them it’s just $20 for a ticket,” Redman said.

The Fun Fest store is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.