How to Spend Your 41A Music Festival Weekend in Tullahoma, Tennessee

Flock to Tullahoma for the 41A Music Festival and stay awhile to enjoy the local flavor.

September in Tennessee is abuzz with festivals of all kinds: pumpkin festivals, fainting goat festivals, food festivals and, of course, music festivals. And many of them are deserving of making their way onto your busy calendar, beginning with Tullahoma.

*All photos courtesy of Camels & Chocolate unless otherwise noted. 

(Photo credit: 41A Music Festival)

This week, Coffee County's biggest city celebrates its 7th Annual 41A Music Festival put on by the Highland Rim Kiwanis Club. The free event has grown exponentially over the years with thousands of attendees and a roster of past performers that has included Dustin Lynch, Will Hoge, Natalie Stovall & the Drive, Logan Mize and Dallas Smith. There are three different acts on Friday evening, including a Van Halen tribute band (aptly named Fan Halen), and live music all day Saturday beginning at noon and concluding with American Idol finalist Bo Bice and headliner Glen Templeton's sets, in addition to food, drinks and ample fun for all ages. Best of all, the Kiwanis Club donates all proceeds from purchases made on site to local children's charities and has raised $70,000 in the last six years.

Heading to Tullahoma for a day (or overnight) trip to attend 41A on Sept. 23 and 24? Don't miss out on these offerings:

See + Do

(Photo credit: Beechcraft Heritage Museum)

One of Tullahoma's pillars is the aerospace industry, as evidenced by the considerable presence of Arnold Air Force Base. Lovers of unique aircraft and rare artifacts should head over to Beechcraft Heritage Museum, which comprises 55,000 square feet spread throughout three airy hangars. The impressive collection spans aircraft from the 1920s to the turn of the century, including 36 Beechcraft. The museum is open 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday March 1 to Nov. 30; admission is $10 for adults, $5 for guests ages 12 to 17 and seniors (65 and older), and free for children.

Tullahoma is also home to one of the most famous whiskey brands in Tennessee. No, not Jack Daniel's—that's 15 minutes up the road in Lynchburg—but rather George Dickel in Cascade Hollow. Head down into the holler during the day for a tour of the facilities (and maybe a taste or two). "Handmade the Hard Way" is not only the George Dickel slogan, but a way of life at the distillery—no computers are used in the distillation process, and it's got a very intimate, homegrown, rustic feel despite its global distribution. Extended tours, which include tastings, are offered Monday through Saturday for $10.

Tullahoma is surrounded by state parks, like Old Stone Fort and Tim's Ford, and a pair of notable waterfalls worthy of a hike (and a dip if warm enough). Rutledge Falls is the more well-known of the two; though it's privately owned, the owners allow (respectful) guests to come enjoy their slice of nature from dawn through dusk. Pack a picnic, throw on a swimsuit and soak up the beauty of these gushing falls. Hiking shoes are recommended, as you'll crawl on rocks and scamper down muddy ledges to reach the bottom.

On the way to Rutledge, there's a hidden gem, Machine Falls, which is part of Short Springs State Natural Area Trail. It's not well-marked, but if you park at the water tower and follow the trailheads, which begin on the other side of the street, 20 minutes later you'll be at the base and rewarded with one stunner of a waterfall that empties out into a creek. The full loop is 1.6 miles with a bit of a steep decline via steps near the bottom. Tullahoma also offers easy access to Normandy Lake, Woods Reservoir, and the Duck and Elk rivers.

The town's retail scene is growing thanks to entrepreneurs such as Tina Rose, who keeps her boutique T Michelle Clothiers stocked with the latest in women's fashion. The Coker Building is worth a stop, as well. Since 2004, the vendors of the co-op housed inside the historic Coca-Cola bottling building have been the go-to resources for unique gifts and home décor from goat's milk soap and lip balm to one-of-a-kind paintings and fashionable fedoras. There, you'll also find No Place Like Tullahoma, a line of local goods from Christy and Bryan Hayes—mostly comprising handcrafted signs and ornaments, as well as T-shirts and ball caps—bearing such slogans as "I'll give my all for Tennessee today!"

Special Event: A Worthy Cause

If you're heading down to Tullahoma on Saturday for 41A, be sure and pack your sneakers and hit the pavement at 9 a.m. with the hundreds of pink-clad philanthropic participants who support the Kate Walk by walking five kilometers to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. Last year, nearly 400 people came out, generating more than $8,000 in donations.

The event was founded by Jimmy Bratcher and Diana Bratcher Murray, who lost their mother, Kate, to breast cancer in 2009. The brother-sister duo held their first Kate Walk the same year with just 25 participants and have since raised more than $25,000 for the Multi County Cancer Support Network, an organization that provides funds and resources to help local families in the surrounding counties impacted by cancer. While the walk is free, donations are encouraged, and each $10 gets you one entry into a raffle for prizes. They also sell T-shirts available for $13 (short sleeves) and $20 (long), which can be ordered via the website.

Eat + Drink

Now that you've done your charitable deed, it's time to fill your belly with the best food in town. The 40-year-old icon, Daddy Billy's Restaurant & Bar, underwent a makeover a few years back. The result? An expanded back patio and beer garden, as well as a gussied-up interior. Daddy Billy's is of the best places to sip on craft beer, as well as grab a burger, salad or wrap while listening to live music or watch the big game.

New to town is next-door neighbor (and sister restaurant) Spinelli's Pizzeria, a New York-style pizza kitchen that makes all dough and sauce made in-house, as well as offers late-night delivery, and will be opening in early October.

(Photo credit: Ole Shed Brewing Co.)

Tullahoma boasts its own brewery, too: Ole Shed Brewing Co., started by Mike Ramsey and Mike Thornburg in 2011. Two years later, the Mikes opened a lively taproom on Highway 55 that's become a popular watering hole from which they sell their Southern Pale Ale, a handful of other rotating craft brews and $10 growlers.

(Photo credit: Fuel So Good) 

At Fuel So Good Coffee Roasters, you can caffeinate up for a weekend of fun and late night festival-going. This year-old artisan coffee shop roasts its own beans—all fair trade and organic—and whips up delicious seasonal specialties like a gingerbread latte, in addition to a selection of homemade baked goods. Tullahoma also has a pair of fine-dining restaurants: One22West (formerly Fast Jack's), which is a steakhouse fusion, and Emil's Bistro & Marketplace, a Southern spin on a European-style café. 

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