White Lightning Trail Festival coming up

By Marisa Anders manders@civitasmedia.com

June 19, 2014

Around 30,000 people are expected to visit the area for this month’s White Lightning Trail Festival (WLTF), which will be held in Cumberland Gap on June 27 and 28.

“I’m very excited about this year’s festival,” said Carl Nichols, director of tourism for the county and director of the festival. “I am anticipating thousands of people will come.”

The WLTF was named one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for June 2014 by the Southeast Tourism Society, and Nichols has traveled far and wide to spread the word about the annual event. The festival celebrates the history of the area, through which the White Lightning Trail runs.

From the Civil War to modern day America, the WLTF tells the story of those rugged, self-reliant people that made this area the topic of movies and gave birth to one of America’s fastest growing sports – stock car racing. The White Lightning Trail, which begins in Knoxville, travels through eight other counties including Anderson, Union, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Hamblen and Cocke. These communities share a rich heritage that will be on display in the form of demonstrations, food, antique cars, craft vendors, games, a bike run and a variety of music.

The WLTF events actually kick off on Thursday, with the WLTF Beauty Pageant at Cumberland Gap High School auditorium. Those activities will be ongoing all day, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. The pageant is open to girls from infancy to 21 years old and there are eight age categories. For more information or to enter, contact pageant director Mandalyn Noe at 423-526-1941.

Saturday’s events kick off early, with a 5K Run beginning at 8 a.m., with registration from 6:30 -7:30 a.m. For more information or to register, contact run director Tracy Brooks at 423-851-2665 or tnbrooks24@gmail.com.

Vendors will include concessions, arts and crafts and demonstrations.

“There are going to be a lot of unique things there,” he said, “just as we have had in the past — a variety of things for everyone.”

The first annual Quilt Exhibit will be held Saturday inside the Convention Center from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. for more information contact the Quilt Exhibit director Joe Wolfenbarger at 865-585-5941 or whistlestop93@hotmail.com.

“It’s going to be a great festival,” said Nichols. “I encourage everyone to come out. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and the entire family for live music and fun.”

The WLTF Car Show “Cruise-in” will be held from 4 until 8 p.m. Saturday. Antique, vintage, classic cars and trucks will be there and there is no pre-registration required.

A Bike Run to benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation will begin in Cumberland Gap at 10 a.m. and will return to Cumberland Gap around 2 p.m. The Bike Run director is Dickie Runions, for more information call 423-307-9129.

Saturday’s entertainment schedule is packed with a variety of music. Strange Brew will take the stage at noon, Rachel Lynn at 1 p.m., Sons of South at 2 p.m., Jim Willoughby at 3 p.m., the Chelsea Ryan Band at 4 p.m., Michael Jacobs at 5 p.m., Pine Mountain Grass at 6 p.m., Southern Steel at 7 p.m. and the Nashville Connection will close it out at 8 p.m.

In addition to festival vendors, several businesses in Cumberland Gap will be open.

For additional information about each event, go to “Events” at www.claibornecounty.com or call Carl Nichols at 865-585-7386.

The Claiborne Progress will have more about the festival throughout the month.

Marisa Anders may be reached at 423-626-3222 or on Twitter @newsgirl88. Follow the Claiborne Progress on Twitter @ClaibProgressTN.