Much of Kingsport will be celebrating the kickoff of Fun Fest this weekend. The annual summer festival will open Friday with Mardi Gras from 11:30 to 5:30 p.m., followed by the Fun Fest Parade at 6:30 p.m. and the Broad Street Boogie at 8 p.m., all in downtown Kingsport.
Saturday’s schedule includes fishing, volleyball, a cardboard boat race, Frisbee golf, softball, and the Crazy 8’s events.
If you’re looking for something away from the crowds in town, here are some other suggestions:
• Natural Tunnel State Park will host Railroad Day on Saturday. The event will begin with a welcome ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., park guests will be welcome to go to the tunnel, either by foot or chairlift. For this event only, a waiver has been obtained that will allow visitors to explore the tunnel. Other activities include guided tours of the tunnel, a Norfolk Southern Heritage Unit onsite, and a free train photography workshop. The event is free, but regular park fees will apply. Call (276) 940-2674.
• Netherland Inn in Kingsport will host a special commemorative presentation of the Donelson flotilla at 1 p.m., Saturday on the banks of the South Fork of the Holston River. Immediately following the ceremony, Netherland Inn docents will give free tours of the inn and the new Museum of Pioneer Transportation between 2 and 4 p.m. Historian James Caldwell will speak on the 1976 Bicentennial flotilla re-enactment, which covered 1,006 river miles and took nine weeks to complete. The original journey was made by Col. John Donelson, who served in the Virginia House of Burgesses before moving to the Watauga settlements on the Holston and Watauga rivers in East Tennessee. There is no admission fee for touring the inn and museum, but donations will be accepted. Call (423) 247-3211.
• The Mount Carmel Block Party will be held from 7 to 11 p.m., Saturday, featuring bands, food vendors, activities for kids, wrestling, a new car display and fireworks at 11 p.m. Shuttle service will be available from Oak Grove Baptist Church.
• The Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Va., will present a special reunion concert by Wry Straw at 7:30 p.m., Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 to11, and free for children under age 6. The trio consists of the Grammy-nominated John McCutcheon, Tom Bledsoe and Rich Kirby. Call (276) 594-0676.