Bays Mountain Park To Host Astronomy Day

Learn about all things astronomy at Bays Mountain Park! On Saturday, April 21st from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m., Bays Mountain Park and the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club will celebrate International Astronomy Day with displays, activities and planetarium shows.

Spend an exciting and informative day learning about the science and hobby of astronomy. Check out displays about astronomy, telescopes and education in astronomy. Take advantage of the free solar viewing program, SunWatch, where visitors will be able to safely observe sunspots and other features of the Sun through specially filtered high-powered telescopes.

The evening’s activities will begin at 8:30 p.m. with the StarWatch program. Take in the wonderful views of Venus, the Moon and distant galaxies. These views and more will be seen at the Bays Mountain Observatory. A live presentation about what is in the current, night sky will take place in the Planetarium if the weather does not cooperate.

Schedule of Events:

  • 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Displays, Demonstrations & Information
    • Located at the walkway in front of Nature Center (Inside Nature Center, if raining.)
  • 3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. SunWatch Solar Viewing
    • Located at the dam.
  • 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. StarWatch Nighttime Viewing
    • Located at the observatory.

Visitors can also enjoy a planetarium show during Astronomy Day. Out There – The Quest for Extrasolar Worlds is the main feature and A Part of the Sky Called Orion is the alternative feature for the month of April. The main feature will show at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and the alternative feature will show at 2 p.m. Planetarium show tickets are $5.00 per person. Children ages 5 and younger receive free admission with a paying adult.

All non-planetarium astronomy-related activities are free and family-friendly. For more information about Bays Mountain Park, please visit or call 423-229-9447.


Fun for Kids – The Summer Program

Get your kids involved in a summer program with activities such as swimming, sports camps, games and more! The Kingsport Parks and Recreation summer program is open to children ages 6-12 and lunch and snacks are provided. The program starts May 29 and goes until July 19.

Parents or guardians can register their children on a first come, first served basis. Locations for the summer program sites and registration dates are listed below:

  • O. Dobbins Location – Register on April 16 from 3:30-6:00 pm at V.O. Dobbins
  • Lincoln Elementary Location – Register on April 17 from 3:30-6:00 pm at V.O. Dobbins
  • John Adams Location – Register on April 18 from 3:30-6:00 pm at V.O. Dobbins
  • Lynn View Community Center Location – Register on April 19 from 3:30-6:00 pm at V.O. Dobbins

To register for a specific program location, stop by V.O. Dobbins, located at 301 Louis Street, on the date listed above. Each summer program site has a maximum registration limit and availability cannot be guaranteed. All non-city residents must register on April 20 at V.O. Dobbins from 3:30-6:00 pm.

If a child is a returning participant, you can register online at If registering for the program for the first time, parents or guardians must go to V.O. Dobbins on the date of your site registration. All onsite registration is from 3:30-6:00 pm at V.O. Dobbins.

The cost of the summer program is $55 for city residents and $75 for non-city residents. Parents or guardians who wish to take advantage of the extended hours for the program can for an additional cost. The cost includes a t-shirt, lunch and snacks every day, plus field trips and bus rides.

If you have any questions, please contact Renee Ensor at 423-224-2489 or For more information, please visit

Early Voting 2018

Early Voting Begins April 11, 2018

Early voting is for the May 1, 2018 Sullivan County primary election. For Hawkins County, please click here.


Sullivan County Commission office (Blountville): Polls open April 11 – April 26

Civic Auditorium (Kingsport): Polls open April 19 – April 26

National Guard Armory (Bristol): Polls open April 19 – April 26

For more information, including links to look up your registration status, commission district, and guidelines for absentee voting by mail, visit the Sullivan County Election Commission’s website at

early voting graphic

Pavilion at Bays Mountain Presented with Annual Excellence Award

Bays Mountain Park’s Newest Venue Wins Project of the Year

Bays Mountain Park is pleased to announce that its newest venue, the Pavilion at Lily Pad Cove, has received the Associated General Contractors Excellence Award for Project of the Year.

The Associated General Contractors of America, Tri‐Cities Branch, holds an annual awards event with awards being presented in several categories – one of the categories being contractor‐submitted projects. This year three projects were submitted for Project of the Year in the Under $2.5 Million Category. The Project of the Year award is judged on the overall aesthetics of the project, its sensitivity to the environment, the innovative construction techniques used to complete it, and how it contributes to the community.

The Pavilion at Lily Pad Cove at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium received the award for Project of the Year in the Under $2.5 Million Category. This project was designed by James F. Wright, Architect, and was constructed by Armstrong Construction Company, Inc.

“The Pavilion at Lily Pad Cove project was an exciting challenge that we were honored take on,” said John Leonard, president of Armstrong Construction Company, Inc. “Jim Wright’s design for the pavilion was a pleasure to create, and we are proud to have been a part of this effort.”

The following is an overview of the project and its judging criteria:

  • Contribution to Community: The Pavilion replaced a simple, small viewing platform within a cove on the lake. It is now a much larger platform that can be used for events such as field trips, weddings, family gatherings and a nice place to enjoy the views. Over time, the venue has the possibility of adding great value to Bays Mountain Park.
  • Overall Aesthetics: The design intent was to blend with the natural environment, using materials that would weather and age to continue this goal over time. Design elements were chosen to work with the setting, both in size and material used.
  • Sensitivity to Environment: The design was derived with the setting in mind. The construction process was ever mindful of the location, and the sensitive nature of the environment in which they were working.
  • Innovation in Construction Techniques: All of the construction techniques used for this project are tried and true. There was no one element that has not been done before, but the combination of the sum of these presented challenges. The uniqueness of this project being over water and no easy way to get materials to the site, much less equipment that would have been useful, presented opportunities to think outside the norm.

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

Outdoor Activities Spring Up At Bays Mountain Park

Spring is here and that means zip line and barge rides and canoe/kayak tours at Bays Mountain Park! Starting this week, guests can enjoy a range of activities at the park.

Experience the thrill of a zip line ride on The Flying Squirrel. The Flying Squirrel is an exciting, 310 foot zip line that races you through the tree line. Rides are $10 per person and $5 for park members.

Visitors can also catch a ride on the barge and explore the 44 acre lake. Observe water lilies, deer, raccoons, ducks, geese, turtles, great blue herons, beaver lodges and sometimes beavers and black bear. Your naturalist will discuss park history as well as the sights and sounds encountered on your trip creating a unique experience. Barge rides lasts approximately 45minutes and may be cancelled due to weather. Tickets for barge rides are $5 per person and free for park members.

Specialty programs including the twilight barge ride and the canoe/kayak tour are back this year. Spend a relaxing evening on the lake enjoying the beautiful lakeside scenery from the comfort of the barge or your personal canoe or kayak. The twilight barge rides are $5 per person and free for park members. The canoe/kayak tour is $3 per person and free for park members. The canoe/kayak tour is limited to 20 watercrafts, and participants must provide their own canoe/kayak and a coast guard approved personal flotation device.

The days and times for these activities are as follows:

  • Zip Line – Wednesdays at 3:00 and 4:00 p.m., Saturday and Sundays at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. (April & May)
  • Barge Rides – Monday through Friday at 3:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1:00, 2:00 and 5:00 p.m.
  • Canoe/Kayak Tours – April 18th and May 16th at 6:00 p.m.
  • Twilight Barge Rides – April 25th and May 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

To book a zip line ride or to reserve a spot for the canoe/kayak tour or twilight barge rides, please call the Nature Center at 423-229-9447. To reserve your spot for daily barge rides, please visit the Nature Center before the scheduled barge ride. Bays Mountain only accepts barge ride reservations in advance for parties of 15 or more.

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

Open Call for Vendor Applications for the 39th Annual Christmas Connection

Calling all artists, artisans, creatives, and craftspeople of all trades! Applications are being taken for those wishing to exhibit in this 3-day event, which is by invitation only. All applications are reviewed by a selection committee, taking various factors into consideration in order to create a high quality, attractive show having a good mix of artistic and crafting creations.  Application deadline is July 1, 2018.  There is no cost to apply.

The Christmas Connection, an event sponsored by the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, is celebrating 39 years of artistic creations in 2018! A very well established cultural event in Kingsport, the event hosts the region’s best craftspeople, artisans, artists, and creatives.  People from our region and beyond look forward to The Christmas Connection year after year.

This year’s event will take place the 2nd weekend in November, Friday through Sunday, at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium.

This year’s Christmas Connection will take place the second weekend in November, due to elections taking place at the Civic Auditorium on the first weekend. 


FREE Admission to the public!

Fri. Nov. 9:  12Noon – 7PM

Sat. Nov. 10:  10AM – 5PM

Sun. Nov. 11:  12Noon – 4PM

Applications deadline is July 1, 2018.

 To access the vendor application from the city website, click here or visit

Howl & Hike

Combine two of the most popular activities at Bays Mountain Park and you get, Howl & Hike! Outdoor Pursuits is back with the second pursuit in this series, bringing you a naturalist from Bays Mountain Park to lead a hike after hearing the call of the wild.

Kick off the day with brief instruction at the YMCA, and then head to Bays Mountain Park for the 10:00 a.m. wolf howling. The naturalist led hike begins immediately after and is a 2.3 mile, moderate/strenuous hike on Lakeside Trail.

The goal of the Outdoor Pursuits series is to introduce the surrounding com­munity to more outdoor opportunities in a safe environment and with knowledgeable staff. The following programs are set for this spring:

  • April 7 – Howl and Hike: Meet at the YMCA at 9:15 a.m.
  • May 25 – Canoe/Kayak: From 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Bays Mountain Park. Participants must provide their own water­craft (no motorized watercraft permitted) and safety floata­tion gear. Limit of 20 watercraft for this program.

All programs are by registration only and are on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost for each program is $3.00 per person; free for YMCA and Bays Mountain Park members. To reg­ister and pay for these events, please visit the YMCA front desk or

To submit requests for additional information, contact Dustin Sims at 423-765- 9722, or via email at For more information on Bays Mountain, please visit or call 423-229-9447.

Kingsport’s Annual Clean-Up Service Starts Monday

From April 2 through 13, the city of Kingsport is holding its annual spring clean-up service for residents. Residents can place extra items on the curb for garbage crews to haul away at no extra charge. The city encourages residents to clean up and clean out their yards, garages and basements. Every resident will receive their normal garbage and recycling pick-ups and one trash pick-up during each week.

The city will pick-up:
Tires (only 4 per household and off the rim)
Small amount of building materials (drywall, carpet, scrap lumber)
Yard debris
Bagged grass
Bagged or loose leaves
General junk

The city will not pick-up:
Hazardous material
Propane tanks
Tires on rims
Contractor generated building materials
Contractor generated tree debris

During the clean-up weeks, the city will accept items outside the garbage can. A leaf truck will also be running during this time. While the spring clean-up service is free for residents, the city will still charge for contractor generated waste and tree debris during these weeks.

Computer items, such as monitors, keyboards and hard drives, can be taken to the Sullivan County Transfer Station on Brookside Drive.

Sullivan County will hold its annual hazardous material collection on April 28th at Sullivan Central High School from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

For more information, please call 423-229-9451 or visit

Outdoor Survival Series Returns

Learn how to adapt to the rough conditions of the outdoors! Outdoor Survival Basics is a series of classes taught at Bays Mountain Park to help teach the average person the techniques for outdoor survival. After a successful introductory run in December, the program series returns this April.

The following survival classes will be held in the Discovery The­ater at Bays Mountain Park at 3:00 p.m.

  • April 1 – “Snake Bites”
  • April 8 – “What To Take Hiking?”
  • April 15 – “Lost & Afraid”
  • April 22 – “Outdoor Survival Basics”
  • April 29 – “Bear Aware”

These classes will cover the techniques a person should use in a dan­gerous situation to save themselves or others. These techniques are meant to provide the basic ne­cessities for human life including water, food and shelter, as well as the need to think straight, to signal for help, to navigate safely, to avoid unpleasant interactions with animals and plants and for first aid.

Many of these skills can be used to enjoy extended periods of time in re­mote places and to thrive in nature. Even when hiking, back­packing, horseback riding, fishing or hunting, you need to make sure to have the basic wilder­ness survival skills to handle an emergency situation.

Each class in the series is $3/person and free for Bays Mountain Park members. Participants can complete as many classes as they would like, and those who attend all five classes will receive a certificate of completion. For more information please call 423-229-9447.

Water Park Passes Available Now at Kingsport Aquatic Center

Summer is just around the corner and that means it’s time to get your water park pass! The outdoor water park at the Kingsport Aquatic Center will open its gates on Monday, May 14 at 10:30 a.m.

Purchase your pass for the summer season and get access to both the indoor facility and the outdoor water park. Passes grant admission to the indoor facility beginning May 1 and to the outdoor water park May 14, when the park opens.

Swimmers can enjoy two waterslides, the Eastman Credit Union 900-foot lazy river, climbing structure and play area with water cannons, lily pad crossing and concessions stand. New this year, the Kingsport Aquatic Center will have cabanas available for rent.

“We’re excited to open early again this year for the swimmers who can’t wait to jump in,” said Kari Matheney, director of the Kingsport Aquatic Center. “With our new park additions on the horizon, we hope to see even more guests taking advantage of the water park this summer.”

The Waterpark Pass entitles the user to admission to indoor and outdoor pools during the water park operational season (early May through September).

  • Lil’ Splasher: Under 48”- $75/ season
  • Big Splasher: 48” and taller – $100/ season
  • Master Splasher: Age 55+ – $75/season
  • Splash Pack: 4 people/same household – $200/season ($15/add. person)

Outdoor waterpark hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

For more information about the Kingsport Aquatic Center or to purchase a water park pass, please visit or call 423-343-9758.