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Surgoinsville celebration 'once-in-a-lifetime thing'

September 7th, 2015 12:00 pm by Editorial Board

Surgoinsville celebration 'once-in-a-lifetime thing'

If you’re from in or around Surgoinsville, mark your calendar for the community celebration of its 200th birthday. And if you’re not from Surgoinsville, mark it anyway because you won’t want to miss this historic event.

As with Kingsport, Surgoinsville owes its founding to the Holston River that brought early settlers to the area. Surgoinsville was chartered as a town in 1815. This year’s Surgoinsville Riverfront Festival Sept. 11 and 12 denotes the town’s bicentennial, and Mayor Merrell Graham says plans are well underway for a celebration of historic proportions with the theme, “The Roots of Our History Runs Deep.”

And indeed they do. Surgoinsville was the site of a ferry crossing the river and an important port ferrying goods to market via the Holston, and celebrating the town’s bicentennial is a “once-in-a-lifetime thing” says Graham, who is expecting “our biggest crowd ever. We’re having a homecoming reunion that whole weekend, and we’re just encouraging people to get in touch with friends and family who have lived here and maybe moved away — just anybody who would like to come back and help us celebrate our anniversary, and we’re going to do that the whole weekend.”

The festival kicks off on the Friday, Sept. 11, with a 4 p.m. block party, inflatables, a train ride around the park for children, live entertainment, vendors, and free hot dogs courtesy of the Dairy Mart. A parade begins down Main Street at 5:30 p.m. and entertainment includes Fran Howard, who will perform Friday, as well as JB & The Wild Honey Beans, and popular local gospel singer Brian Burchfield.

The Block Party ends around 9:30 p.m., and the Riverfront Festival kicks back into action Saturday, Sept. 12, at noon, with a horseshoe contest, car and tractor show and at 3 p.m., a program recognizing Surgoinsville’s Bicentennial, followed by a flag retirement ceremony by local Boy Scouts. Following the ceremonies, the live entertainment begins with a variety of bluegrass, gospel, and oldies musicians scheduled to perform throughout the day. There will also be a variety of prize drawings throughout the day.

At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the festival concludes with a fireworks show and Graham says it won’t be the usual display. “Everybody comments about how nice our fireworks show is every year, but because this is our bicentennial celebration we’ve asked the people that do the show to put on a bigger, better fireworks show. This is a special year for our festival, and we want to end with a big bang.”

Happy birthday, Surgoinsville! You do Hawkins County and this region proud.

And happy birthday as well to the Church Hill First United Methodist Church which is celebrating 175 years of service to the community. Sunday, Sept. 20, is the church homecoming and dinner on the grounds.

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