Planet Party Set to View the Four Brightest Planets

Come join the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club and the ETSU Physics Department on the ETSU campus to view the four brightest planets with the aid of a small fleet of telescopes! On July 27th and August 3rd, from 9:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m., Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible!

While all four of these planets are visible during the summer, the two observing dates that have been set are important as they take advantage of the opposition of Mars. The opposition of Mars provides a multi-week window of opportunity to see Mars look a little bigger in a telescope than at other times. This occurs when Earth overtakes Mars in its orbit as Earth orbits the Sun faster than Mars. At this time, Earth and Mars will be the closest together in their orbits. The result is that quality telescopes, at a high power, and if the sky is steady, can eek out general surface details. Features hoped to see on Mars include dark, lava covered lowlands and light reddish highlands. If we are lucky, we might spy the southern pole with an ice cap.

Venus will not show features as it is always enshrouded by clouds, and will look about the same visual size as Mars. Jupiter and Saturn will show a good amount of features as the planets will look twice as large as Mars in a telescope. Jupiter’s main dark belts and light zones of its enormous atmosphere highlight the planet’s visual features. Jupiter’s four largest moons will also be visible. Saturn sports its eye-catching rings while the planet Saturn has difficult gas atmosphere surface features to see. Some of the larger moons of Saturn can also be seen.

The observing events are free and open to the public. The group will meet at Parking Lot 22A, which runs parallel to the Go Bucs Trail, near West State of Franklin. Enter campus to access the lot from Jack Vest Drive. If it is too cloudy or raining, the event is canceled.

For more information on Bays Mountain’s planetarium shows, please visit or call 423-229-9447.

Ribbon Cutting & Dedication at Borden Park

Join us for a fun time at Borden Park! The city is hosting a ribbon cutting and dedication for the new playground and two picnic shelters on July 10th at 10:30 a.m.

The new picnic shelters were completed by the Rotary Club of Kingsport as a centennial project.

The recently completed playground features a tree-house structure with climbers, slides, poles and a rock wall. Eight new swings and a special three-person swing complete the list of new equipment.

Through the Project Diabetes Grant from the Tennessee Department of Health, along with funds from the city, this is the second round of improvements to be completed at Borden Park. The last phase will be completed in 2019, with more new playground equipment being installed.

For more information, please visit

Happy Birthday Kingsport Carousel!

The Kingsport Carousel is 3 years old and you’re invited to the birthday party! To celebrate the Carousel’s birthday, all rides will be free on Saturday, July 7th. Enjoy rock and face painting, games, live music and more!

The Carousel will be open for free rides on Saturday, July 7th beginning at 10:00 a.m. Come early and pick up your favorite produce or baked goods from the Kingsport Farmers Market which will be open from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The free cooking demo series, Saturdays with the Chef, will begin at 9:00 a.m. with free samples and recipes. Hear live music at 10:30 a.m. presented by Pickin’ Porch, and get an icy treat from Kona Ice.

For those who pre-ordered the limited edition carousel coloring book, Ups and Downs of the Merry-Go-Round, author BB Joyner and illustrator Joe Pilkenton will be at the event to sign copies of the book. All books will be available for pick up at the carousel during the birthday party.

Participants of Dawn Whitelaw’s Outdoor Painting Workshop will be set up at the carousel to paint the vibrant scene of the carousel birthday party. Watch them practice “plein air” painting while you shop for local produce, catch a free ride on the carousel and play a game of giant checkers.

Event Schedule

  • Kingsport Farmers Market: 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • FunFest Block Party: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Free Carousel Rides: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

The Kingsport Carousel is a volunteer-led project completed in 2015.  Over 300 volunteers worked over 5 years to hand-carve and hand-paint platform and sweep animals for the working 1956 vintage Herschell carousel.  Since opening in July 2015 the Carousel has hosted over 225,000 riders. The Carousel is open to the public year-round and all rides are $1. Private parties and Birthday parties start at $100 and can be booked by calling 423-392-8414.

Carousel Summer Hours

  • Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday & Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

For more information, please visit, or call 423-392-8414.

Want to help save our rivers & streams?

Love to paint? Want to help protect our local rivers and streams? The City of Kingsport Stormwater Department, with the help of the Office of Cultural Arts, is seeking local artists and creative minds to paint up five storm drains in the downtown area to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our rivers, stream habitat, and aquatic wildlife.

To enter the contest:
• Send a color sketch of your proposed artwork around a storm drain. Artwork should be roughly 2’x4′.
• Artwork may include the street, sidewalk or both.
• Text is encouraged to convey the educational stormwater message.
• Be sure to include your name, phone number and email.

The deadline to submit entries is August 1. The winners will be selected by August 17. The five winning artists will receive $100, along with bragging rights for participating in the first annual storm drain art contest!

Sponsors for this contest are all local businesses and include Bank of Tennessee, Kingsport Imaging and Now or Never Tattoo Gallery.

The artists will each receive one quart of red, yellow, blue, white and black. Artists must be available to start painting the first week of September and artwork must be complete by September 16. Please see bottom of the press release for links to the artwork application, FAQs and rules.

“These murals will help raise awareness of the importance of storm drains and their connection to our rivers,” said Amanda McMullen, stormwater quality control technician for Kingsport Public Works. “Pollutants such as oil, trash, and pet waste are harmful to our water quality and aquatic life.”

What is Stormwater?
As Kingsport grew, the ground became covered with asphalt, concrete and buildings. Without realizing it, an important part of the water cycle was disturbed. Instead of rain naturally filtering into the ground, it flows over roofs, driveways and streets as stormwater. Stormwater can pick up pollutants and transport them into local waterways via the storm drain system. Pollutants include everyday items like pesticides or fertilizers in our yards, oil in our cars, and even soap. When introduced into the waterway, pollutants have a harmful effect on aquatic life and the health of our rivers.

For more information on the storm drain art contest and stormwater in Kingsport, please click the link here.

Public Art Master Plan Roundtable Discussion

The Kingsport community is invited to share their input for a Public Art Master Plan at the Public Art Master Plan Roundtable Discussion. This is the second discussion session for residents for the Public Art Master Plan.

The discussion session is planned for Tuesday, June 26, at 5:00 p.m. in room 239 of the Kingsport Renaissance Center.

The city’s public art program was created in 2006, and includes a ‘Percent for Art’ Ordinance and established a Public Art Committee. The Committee created Sculpture Walk in 2007 and has annually exhibited contemporary outdoor sculpture for over 10 years. Over the years, several sculptural pieces have been purchased or commissioned for Kingsport and more recently, murals have been added to help celebrate the community.

The public is encouraged to attend the discussion session and share their thoughts and opinions.

For more information, please visit or call 423-392-8414.

Kingsport Employee Wins Statewide Award

The Tennessee Chapter American Public Works Association awarded one of Kingsport’s public works employees the 2018 Murphy Snoderly Award. Kirby Walker, a long-time employee of the Kingsport Water Department, accepted the award in Knoxville.

Walker, a lab technician, was nominated for his dedication to positive public outreach. In the decade that he’s been with public works, Walker has proven not only his desire to learn, but an eagerness to share that knowledge with others through outreach programs.

“Not many people know just how much work goes into maintaining a city,” said Assistant City Manager of Operations Ryan McReynolds. “Kirby’s mission is to teach children about the behind-the-scenes activity in Kingsport—and to get them excited about it, so that they might one day decide to become a public works employee, too.”

After the water department recently eliminated public tours due to safety concerns, Walker stepped in to fill the void. Last November, he visited Kingsport City Schools’ fourth grade career fair to teach the children about the process of how water makes it from the river into people’s homes. He brought photos, displays and gifts so the children would remember what they learned.

Since then, Walker has been visiting schools regularly. While school tours of the water department would annually bring in about 150 children, Walker’s presentations over this school year reached more than 2,000 children.

“Kids need to understand the importance of safe, reliable drinking water.  They need to learn at an early age to protect our water environment – creeks, rivers, lakes, ocean – and the importance of putting it back as clean as you found it because someone downstream needs it,” Walker explained.

The award’s namesake, Murphy Snoderly, was an engineering and public works consultant for the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service. He believed that the “working people,” who perform tasks like garbage pickup or pothole repair and without whom a city could not function properly, should be recognized for all that they do. Only operations level employees—working people—are eligible for the Murphy Snoderly Award.

Biking at Bays Events

June is a great time to get out on the trails at Bays Mountain, and with two mountain biking events around the corner, there is something for every type of rider this month!

Whether getting in a good workout on an old service road or challenging one’s self on a single track trail, Bays Mountain Park offers 32 miles of trails that provide fun and adventure for mountain bikers of all skill levels. This month’s mountain biking events at BMP are Bike at Bays and the Aiyana XC Mountain Bike Race.

  • Bike at Bays (Saturday, June 23) – This year marks the 10th Anniversary Bike at Bays event at Bays Mountain Park. Hosted by SORBA, the event will be held on Saturday, June 23, from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. This event is filled with educational and maintenance seminars, bike demos by vendors, group rides and plenty of fun. For more information, visit Free admission for attendees.
  • Aiyana XC Mountain Bike Race (Sunday, June 24) – This mountain bike race is a USA Cycling sanctioned event held at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium for the past 3 years. The race takes place on Sunday, June 24, and is open to all levels from beginner to advanced. Registration is available online at All bikes must be mountain worthy for safety. Please have all bikes checked and registered at the Nature Center gift shop. Registration available online at

New this month, Bays Mountain Park has mountain biking sticker decals for sale at the gift shop. Get yours, and spread the word about mountain biking at Bays!

For more information on Bays Mountain, please visit or call 423-229-9447.

Softball & Volleyball Fun Fest Tournaments

Earn your bragging rights in the upcoming tournaments for Fun Fest, hosted by Kingsport Parks & Recreation. Enter the One-Pitch Softball Tournament or the Outdoor Volleyball Tournament with your team today!

One-Pitch Softball Tournament:

  • Divisions: Men’s Open Competitive, Men’s Open Recreational, Women’s Open & Coed
  • Dates: Men’s Open Competitive, Men’s Open Recreational, Women’s Open – July 14-15 (July 13 if necessary); Co-Ed – July 17-18 at Brickyard Park
  • Fee: $100/team
  • Deadline to Register: Wednesday, July 12 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Questions: Matthew Elkins – 423-229-9458 or

Outdoor Volleyball Tournament:

  • Divisions: Men’s Doubles, Women’s Triples, Co-Ed, Quads
  • Dates: July 14-15 at Eastman Park at Horse Creek Park
  • Fee: Men’s Doubles $30/team; Women’s Triples $45/team; Co-Ed $30/team; Quads $60/team
  • Deadline to Register: Friday, July 13 @ 5:00 p.m.
  • Questions: Jason Wilburn – 423-229-9459 or

Action Athletics is a sponsor of both of these events.

All registration will take place Monday through Friday at the Civic Auditorium, located at 1550 Fort Henry Drive, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information, please visit

Free KATS Rides on National ‘Dump the Pump Day’

Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS) is offering free rides for all bus passengers all day long on June 21st to celebrate ‘Dump the Pump Day!’

American Public Transportation Association (APTA) first started national ‘Dump the Pump Day’ in June 2006 when gas prices had reached $3 per gallon, causing the demand for public transportation to grow.

According to the January 2018 APTA Transit Savings Report, on the average, an individual in a two-person household can save $9,700 a year when he or she downsizes by one car and takes public transit instead. National ‘Dump the Pump Day’ highlights the many benefits that public transportation brings to individuals and communities. Besides individual financial savings, public transportation spurs economic growth for towns and cities, and also improves the environment and reduces our nation’s energy consumption.

Make sure you take advantage of this special promotion, and tell your friends and family members! To learn more about KATS, visit

Electric 94.9’s Summer Splash featuring The Vamps at Kingsport Aquatic Center

The Kingsport Aquatic Center is partnering with Electric 94.9 to bring a free pop-up concert to the outdoor water park this month. The concert will feature popular British band, The Vamps.

The electrifying event will be held Wednesday, June 27, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The Vamps will perform a special acoustic set at noon, and a short Q&A will follow the performance. Free admission to the outdoor water park will be given during event times, and music and free prizes from 94.9 will be given out.

The Vamps

Called the hardest-working young band in Britain, The Vamps’ debut album, 2014’s Meet The Vamps, as well as their follow-up album, Wake Up, have been worldwide successes. The band has sold out London’s 20,000-capacity O2 four times, touts collaborations with singer Demi Lovato, and contributed voice talent to the movie Kung Fu Panda 3.

The concert will be held at the Kingsport Aquatic Center, 1820 Meadowview Parkway, Kingsport TN 37660.

For more information on The Vamps, visit, and follow them at and

For more information on the Summer Splash Concert, visit