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Fourth of July Fun in East Tennessee

Kids steer their Big Wheels through downtown Crossville. Competitors devour chili peppers in Jonesborough. People toss eggs in Fall Creek Falls State Park, spit watermelon in Chattanooga, play dulcimers at Roan Mountain and launch anvils at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris.

It must be the Fourth of July in East Tennessee.

No holiday brings out the fireworks, fun and downright silliness here like Independence Day does. A parade for bikes, cars and dogs at Cumberland Mountain State Park kicks off family fun and games. Carnival rides, parade and fireworks attract thousands of fun-seekers to Huntsville, for holiday events courtesy of the Huntsville Fire Department’s firefighters and friends.

Gatlinburg holds a River Raft Regatta on the Little Pigeon River, where “anything that floats” is eligible. The boats are unmanned and most likely homemade.

The holiday falls during Jonesborough Days in the town known as the U.S. Storytelling Capital. In addition to the chili pepper eating contest, pancakes and watermelon will be subjects of food-devouring competitions, along with live musical entertainment, crafts  and, of course, storytelling and fireworks.

Those anvils at the Museum of Appalachia might take a  little explaining. Basically, it involves anvils, dynamite, loud BOOMS and heavy metal flying through the air. The museum honors old Appalachian customs which, on the Fourth of July, also feature a bell-ring ceremony and bluegrass music.

Many runners celebrate the nation’s birthday by dashing down by the Tennessee River in the Pilot Fireball Classic 5k in Knoxville at 9 p.m. on July 3 or at the Firecracker 4 Miler road race at 7 a.m. July 4 in Rogersville. The Run for God Independence Day 5K takes off at 8 a.m. that day in Sweetwater.

Parades are small-town affairs in places like Dunlap where the highway through town  is closed and tractors, go-carts, tricycles  and Tennessee Walking Horses take over. Gatlinburg likes to be first, so for the 37th consecutive year, the city holds its Fourth of July Midnight Parade for thousands of cheering people.

Firework spectacles bring on “ohhing and ahhing” across East Tennessee. Symphony concerts and fireworks displays are planned July 3 at Coolidge Park in Chattanooga and July 4 at World’s Fair Park in Knoxville. Pigeon Forge caps off its 22nd annual Patriot Festival, which also hosts concerts by the Lovin’ Spoonful and John Anderson, with a fireworks extravaganza. Booms will rip across Gatlinburg at the same time.

There’s music too. At Rogersville’s 4th of July celebration, the Eli Young Band headlines an all-day music experience. Fireworks follow the show at 10 p.m.

Minor league baseball teams – the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Tennessee Smokies – both have fireworks displayed planned for after their games on July 4. I’m wondering if Chattanooga’s team will change its name to the Lookups for one night?

Fireworks will light up the skies over Freedom Hall City Center in Johnson City as the finale to a music celebration.

What are your plans for the 4th?

Hi! I’m Linda Lange. As a travel writer living in Knoxville, I fully appreciate barbecue, bluegrass and Dollywood. My story...Read on

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