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Wrap up summer with these September festivals

Summer doesn’t have to be over just because school starts in September. Truthfully, Tennessee tries to make summer last as long as possible with summer-esque events like music festivals that draw people by the thousands, the state fair and cooking competitions. So, shake off the stress of school and start planning a weekend jaunt to one (or all) of these festivals. They’re sure to keep the freedom of summer alive and well until those cold temperatures come ‘round.

TN State Fair“Let the Good Times Grow” is a fitting theme for the Tennessee State Fair Sept 5-14 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. The state is experiencing a big boom unlike any other in the past 100 years. And that’s reason to celebrate. Livestock events, food, and entertainment make for a jam-packed 10 days. Some of the events include the Taste of Tennessee Festival Sept. 5-6 where patrons can nom on native food, wash it all down with craft beer and artisan spirits, all while listening to local music. The Flying Houndz, Fairest of the Fair Pageant, Hedrick’s Racing Pigs, Kenya Safari Acrobats, and a wealth of other activities are planned to make this year’s state fair unforgettable.

If you have a quizzical expression on your face when someone mentions “cowpeas,” it may be time to head to the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off Sept. 13 in Charleston, Tenn. to learn more about this plant that’s responsible for once making Charleston the “Cowpea Capital of the United States.” Cowpea is the name for black-eyed peas, cream peas, Southern peas, crowder peas, and field peas. It was first fed to livestock because it’s packed with protein, but people learned the peas were also packed with flavor so they started cooking with them. To celebrate its many uses and to remember the town’s agricultural heritage, the festival involves a cook-off of cowpea recipes, local and regional music entertainment, lots of food, a children’s area and a heritage area where you can learn more about the town’s history.

Rhythm & Roots Festival, Bristol

The pluck of the banjo, strum of the guitar, and peal of the harmonica will get your feet tapping and your soul singing at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Sept. 19-21 in Bristol, TN/VA. After all, you’re in the “Birthplace of Country Music” and it’s time to remember and celebrate the musical roots that run deep in today’s tunes. The 2014 lineup is sure to impress with Emmylou Harris, Moon Taxi, Willie Watson, The Black Lillies, Dale Watson & His Lone Stars, Sundy Best, and Balsam Range. Get some historical context of American music and Bristol’s part in making history at the newly opened Birthplace of Country Music Museum; sample some fine chili during the chili cook-off; and participate in the Bluegrass Jam Camp. Weekend passes are $55 until Aug. 31.

paris

Celebrate the performing and visual arts during the Eye-Full of Paris Weekend Sept. 26-28 in Paris, Tenn. The event starts with a concert of local talent Friday on the Henry County Courthouse lawn. The WildLife Awaits Art Exhibit will have artistic works and photography on display for judging. Saturday will be a flurry of activity as the courthouse lawn will be filled with creative happenings from artists selling their works to the Concert in the Vineyards Saturday night at the Paris Winery. Make your way to the Lee Academy of the Arts and Paris Winery for a look at the many visual and theatrical performances scheduled. The festival is free and open to the public.

Hey! I’m Amanda Stravinsky, a born-and-raised Jersey girl who now makes her home in the awesome, musically-inclined city of...Read on

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    Betty Bray

    I am planning a weekend with “Friends of the Smokies” at Lake Junaluska. I have never been there and would appreciate any comments.

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