Now in its 12th year, the event will expand to two days — Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 — for the first time in its history. It will also feature co-headliners on Saturday and a free concert on Friday featuring Aaron Tippin, who headlined last year’s festival but couldn’t finish his performance due to bad weather.
“We had an electrical storm that came in (last year) after Aaron got one song in, and it stormed until midnight,” said festival organizer James Phillips. “It was a very bad storm — there was flash flooding and everything — and so there was just no way to get him back out there; it was impossible. So our saying that we took last year was, ‘We’re going to make lemonade out of lemons.’ So whether you had a ticket or not last year, you can come see Aaron Tippin for free.”
About the festival
Racks by the Tracks, which encompasses a barbecue competition, craft beer and wine tasting, a kids’ station, 10K and 5K races and concerts, is held in and around the Farmers Market in downtown Kingsport. The festival has generated more than $100,000 for local nonprofit organizations since its inception.
The festival will kick off on May 17 at 5 p.m. and will continue until 10 p.m. Back for a third year, Eastman Credit Union’s Spring WING Fling will allow attendees sample wings from several local restaurants. The event will run from 5:30-8 p.m., and tickets are $10 each.
Known for hits like “Kiss This,” “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong with the Radio” and “Working Man’s Ph.D.,” country music star Aaron Tippin will return to the festival for a second year, this time for a free concert. Attendees are asked to bring canned food items, which will support Second Harvest Food Bank.
A full slate of activities will take place May 18 from noon to 10 p.m. One of the biggest changes to this year’s event is the wine tasting, which has expanded to include 10 wineries rather than just one, Phillips said.
The craft beer tasting event will once again offer more than 80 craft beers from more than 30 local and national breweries. The barbecue competition will also return, featuring more than 20 barbecue and other food vendors.
Runners can once again participate in the SPF 10K and 5K sponsored by Powell Valley National Bank. Those looking for a bigger challenge can run both races, called the Boss Hog Challenge. To register, visit fastestrace.com.
A kids’ station will be set up for children in the new playground outside the Kingsport Carousel. For the first time, the carousel will also be open during the festival, Phillips said.
In another change to this year’s festival, two bands will headline the Saturday concert. The first is the Breakfast Club, known as the longest-running, most-recognized ’80s tribute band in the U.S. Joining them will be the Ultimate Garth Brooks Tribute Band featuring Shawn Gerhard, which has been rated the No. 1 Garth Brooks tribute artist.
To close out each evening, Macado’s in downtown Kingsport will host an after party featuring live music and food and drink specials.
Tickets are available for a limited-time discounted rate at racksbythetracks.com. Prices for Saturday’s events are as follows: $35 for the beer tasting and concert, $35 for the wine tasting and concert, $60 for the beer and wine tasting combo and concert, and $10 for the concert only. Ticket prices will increase after Feb. 18.
Tickets can also be purchased at any Food City location beginning Feb. 13.
“I think it’s the biggest year ever because, one, we went to two days,” Phillips said, “and almost every event that we have, we have expanded. … We provide a little something for everybody.”