The region’s biggest summer festival kicked off this week in the Model City.
Kingsport Fun Fest began back in 1981 as a way to promote community unity in a city that was divided by political issues and intense high school rivalries.
Thirty-five years later, tens of thousands of people still flock to Kingsport for the annual festival.
“That’s a remarkable acheivement for any festival,” said Lucy Fleming, Director of Fun Fest.
Fleming said many festivals that began around the same time saw success for a few years and then fizzled out. And we got a reminder of that just this week when Johnson City unsealed a time capsule and found a souvenir of Spring Fest, a festival that didn’t survive.
But Fun Fest did, and more than that it continues to thrive.
“Each year we try to keep a lot of the same and then add some new things, something to pique your interest, and then something you can show your kids that you’ve done,” Fleming said.
Some people have even made the week-long festival a family tradition.
“We’ve got three and sometimes four generations that have done this, so you do want to keep it familiar, keep it fun, but you want to have something new, and we also want to look to the next generation and what they’re interested in,” she said.
Fleming said what sets Fun Fest apart is that it doesn’t cater to a specific audience.
“This festival is not a specific theme, its not a food, or a season…Its a people festival, a community festival, and we try to have something for everybody,” she said.
We’ve got a full list of events happening at this year’s Fun Fest celebration listed here.
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