Papa Joe Smiddy Mountain Music Festival returns Sunday

Holly Viers • Updated Aug 29, 2019 at 8:56 AM

DUFFIELD — One of Scott County’s most popular festivals is back for another year.

The 17th annual Papa Joe Smiddy Mountain Music Festival will be held Sunday, and it’s not too late to get tickets. Presented by the Cove Ridge Center Foundation, the event will feature several local bands that will showcase the rich musical heritage of the region.

When and where is the event?

The festival will take place Sunday, Sept. 1, from 3 p.m. until around 8:30. Activities will take place in the amphitheater at Natural Tunnel State Park, located at 1420 Natural Tunnel Parkway in Duffield.

What should you expect?

The festival is held to honor the legacy of Dr. Joseph “Papa Joe” Smiddy, who promoted the music of this region for many decades. In addition to being an accomplished old-time banjo player, entertainer and educator, Smiddy was chancellor emeritus at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

This year’s performers will be Boozy Creek Grass, the UVa-Wise Bluegrass Band, Dr. Joe Smiddy & Reedy Creek, the ETSU Old-Time Ramblers and Bluegrass Pride Band, and Miss Ellie String Band, which is named in honor of Sue Ella Boatwright-Wells, who was instrumental in starting the School of Mountain Music at Mountain Empire Community College.

As a part of the ETSU Old-Time Ramblers’ performance, Tyler Hughes will call a square dance. Radio personality Tom Taylor will serve as the emcee, and several food and craft vendors will be present.

Isaac Webb, one of the event organizers, said this is the second year that the festival has emphasized talent from local colleges and universities.

“We’re really trying to highlight the excellent talent that we have locally and new folks getting into traditional music, and hopefully support those folks, too, at the same time,” Webb said.

How can you get tickets?

All tickets are general admission and may be purchased for $10 in advance or $15 at the gate. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Proceeds from the festival go into the Cove Ridge Foundation’s Papa Joe Smiddy Scholarship Fund.

While there is fixed seating under the roof, additional seating is available on the grass, so festival-goers are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket.

To purchase tickets by phone, call (276) 940-2674. Tickets are also available at Natural Tunnel State Park, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and Addington Oil in Weber City.

Why should you attend?

“It’s a neat mix of young students and some folks that have been in the business for years,” Webb said. “No matter what your musical taste is around the traditional music, you can find it there with one or the other of the bands. It’s just a nice evening and a great way to spend the Sunday before Labor Day.”