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August 26, 2013

Clarksville's ClarkFEST adds to event line-up

Organizers of second annual event expect larger crowds this year

CLARKSVILLE — The inaugural ClarkFEST last year almost didn’t happen at all. Pregnant clouds threatened the Eastern Boulevard parade event, and a lightning strike would have stopped it in its tracks.

But the threat never became a reality, and the parade rolled on schedule, to the delight of ClarkFEST organizers.

“It was successful beyond their wildest dreams,” said Joyce Nokes Ribble, the event coordinator for ClarkFEST 2013.

ClarkFEST is back, and it’s expected to be much bigger than the 2012 edition. In addition to the parade, a festival with a family-friendly atmosphere will be held on the grounds of Duke Energy.

“I am really excited to see how this has blossomed into a full-blown festival this year from a simple parade last year,” said John Gilkey, a Clarksville Town Council member and employee of the Clark-Floyd Convention & Tourism Bureau. “We started out with a parade that we weren’t even sure was going to get off the ground because of threatening rain. We had a tremendous response last year.”

ClarkFEST will open at 10 a.m. on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2, at Duke Energy, 1212 Eastern Blvd., near Triangle Drive. The grounds will host an artisan’s market featuring 30 local and regional artists, a car show with between 30 and 40 classic cars, 14 information booths for local nonprofit and political organizations, food and live music.

“It keeps getting bigger and better,” said Doug Fisher, president of the Eastern Boulevard Business Association.

Bomar & Ritter, a husband-and-wife musical duo, will take the stage as the festival opens. But they’ll get a breather at about 11:30, which is when the ClarkFEST parade is expected to come up Eastern Boulevard.

The parade will feature more than 60 entries, according to Ribble, and will include floats, marching bands, antique cars and other unique attractions. The parade is expected to last up to 90 minutes.

But the end of the parade won’t mean the end of ClarkFEST this year, as the festival will continue until 5 p.m. The car show will be ongoing until 2 p.m., at which time awards will be announced for best parade entry, best artist and best car show entry.

Also at 2 p.m., the Bubble Monster bubble car will arrive, which will amuse children and adults alike until 4 p.m. And from 3:30 p.m. until the end of ClarkFEST, Johnny Berry and the Outliers will take the stage to perform.

“This I see as a community event, an arts event and, in a way, a cultural event,” Ribble said. “It surrounds us with all of the things that make people, people — our interest in cars, our interest in each other and participating people in a group. That’s what I think is important. It brings people together, they can share common interests, they can meet up with people — it gives a sense of community.”

Visitors to ClarkFEST are encouraged to come to the event venue via Lewis & Clark Parkway, and to park in the parking lot occupied by Tuesday Morning and Staples.

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