Old Time and Bluegrass music have a long history in the mountains of Appalachia.
The Cove Ridge Foundation of Natural Tunnel State Park is dedicated to preserving these traditions as well as instilling a passion for them in our youth. The Festival is named for University of Virginia at Wise Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Joseph C. “Papa Joe” Smiddy, a well-known educator, entertainer, and old time musician. The Labor Day show features local musicians, plus bluegrass and old-time music majors from local colleges and universities, including East Tennessee State University, Mountain Empire Community College, and the University of Virginia–Wise.
Held at the amphitheater at Natural Tunnel State Park, the program is presented by the Cove Ridge Foundation of Natural Tunnel and its Arts & Education Council. The festival starts at 3 p.m. with winners of the local “Pickin’ in the Park” summer competition, followed by student performances and Papa Joe Smiddy’s Band. In 2018, the Cove Ridge Foundation honored the late Dr. Smiddy with a brick sculpture by Tazewell Artist Johnny Hagerman.
The event features plenty of great concessions, local artisans and the opportunity to learn how to square dance or do a little flat footin’.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the Festival. Once the concert date nears, tickets can be purchased at Addington Oil in Weber City, Natural Tunnel State Park, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, or by calling the Natural Tunnel State Park office at 276-940-2674.