Traditions grow strong in small
towns like Tellico Plains. With the Fourth of July approaching, the town that was founded on
Independence Day always celebrates in a big way, recalling the days of old and creating
"Growing up as a child, I remember two things were
certain around July," said Tellico Plains Mayor Patrick Hawkins. "One was a trip to Whitt and
Dorothy Hollinghead's gift shop to buy fireworks. And, second was the traditional square dance in
In the little town, when people think of July they
automatically start thinking of the annual event, said Hawkins.
"I always joke around to folks and tell them that the square dance is more like a family
reunion of some sort," he said. "Everyone comes out for it."
to the way the holiday falls in the middle of the week this year, the town of Tellico Plains has
scheduled the dance for June 30 in the town square. Activities and gospel music by The New Poplar
Bluff Quartet will kick off at 4 p.m. and the dance will continue until close to midnight.
Originally coordinated with the Wagon Train, the Square Dance was
founded to celebrate the establishment of the town, the Wagon Train, and Independence Day. Former
Mayor Charles Hall has played a huge role in starting and keeping the Square Dance going.
"What began as the Square Dance, has kind of phased into more of street
dance," said Tim Childress, whose band, Tim Childress and the Unwound Band, will headline the
entertainment for the night. "We do old and new country, and some southern rock, but we also still
have some of the old Appalachian square dancing."
the annual event go to to the Tellico Plains Fire Department.
"This is our one big fundraiser of the year," said Tellico Plains Fire Chief Jamie Sisson. "The
Square Dance has been going on for more than 50 years and we just try to keep the tradition
carrying on. We hope everyone comes out and has a good time."
Sisson said there is still some room for gospel groups to sing before Childress, if anyone is
Childress and the Unwound Band, who have been
together since the early 1990s, will take the stage between 7 and 7:30 p.m., after a prayer and the
singing of the National Anthem.
This year, Childress is
bringing a special guest on stage-John Wayne. The John Wayne character will do a rendition of
"America, Why I Love Her."
"We're celebrating the Fourth of July
in front of the Veteran's Memorial in town," said Childress. "We're hometown people and this is a
family atmosphere. It's about all of us as a town, not the band or anything political, but how this
town has came together, especially after the tornado in March."
Like Hawkins, Childress believes this is the most anticipated event of the year for Tellico
"People wait all year long for this one event and they
just come out of the wood works," he said.
Dawn Williams, an
organizer of the event, said there is a variety of vendors and activities for children planned,
including the return of the Fun Zone. For just $5, arm bands can be purchased for children and they
can play on all the inflatables and participate in the games all night long.
"Mamas and daddies can bring their kids to play in the Fun Zone and they
can dance," said Sisson. "We'll watch their kids in the Fun Zone."
There are several vendors setting up booths, including the Sweetwater Paranormal Team, quilts,
novelties, food and crafts. The Tellico Plains High School cheerleaders will set up an ice cream
and lemonade booth.
For the young at heart, the Friends of
the Tellico Plains Library will also be hosting a face painting booth and Poplar Bluff Baptist
Church has signed on to do a dunking booth.
Vending spots are
still available at a cost of $25 for each booth. There is no charge for non-profit booths.
"Food spots are limited, but others are still open," said Williams.
"We'll take vendor spots until Friday."
Hawkins is excited for
the annual event and all it brings.
"The town of Tellico Plains
welcomes the opportunity each year to provide an atmosphere of family fun and fellowship for the
people who wish to attend," said Hawkins. "We look forward to another successful dance this year
and would like to invite everyone to join us as we celebrate."
Attendees should only bring two things:
"A lawn chair and
their dancing shoes!" said Williams.
For more information
about vendor spots or the event, contact Williams at 423-253-7700 or Sisson at 423-261-4341.
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