Blowfish Emporium fosters the talents of budding artists in structured art classes and also houses the work of more than 60 local and regional artisans. Cultivate your canvas-covering skills and discover decorative items other than bronzed fruit in The Grape Easel painting event. On entering the class, each student receives a canvas, a selection of paints, and various brushes, which unite to re-create the evening’s scheduled artwork of choice. Subjects vary by class and include such topics as abstract nature works, vibrantly colored musical instruments, and toothpaste-painted re-creations of 1930s toothpaste ads.
Former professional driver and expert instructor Randy Baker and his team have been guiding drivers toward greatness for more than 20 years; past pupils include Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jeff and Ward Burton, and the shadowy pit mechanic known only as Racer X. At SpeedTech Auto Racing School, Randy combines a fleet of super-speedy rides—authentic, metal-bodied vehicles boasting 650-horsepower V-8 engines—with a serious emphasis on safety to prepare drivers for any mishap on the track. Gearheads, speed junkies, and people who still sleep in a racecar bed despite their adult children's protestations soak up Randy's knowledge during one of SpeedTech's many race programs, varying in length from 3 laps to more than 100. With the school's built-in HD video feeds, drivers can commemorate their laps or prove to the family car it's been cheating on them with the hotel's valet.
Buck Baker Racing School allows speed-hungry race fans to strap into an authentic Sprint Cup stock car and take it out for a leisurely spin around the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The school's masters of acceleration will instruct motorpupils during a roughly one-hour pre-drive class. Afterward, take shotgun while wearing the provided helmet and fire suit along with tennis shoes inside a bona fide, previously driven Sprint Cup Ford, Chevy, or Dodge. You’ll ride along as your instructor powers around the speedway, during which they'll dish out informative tips on driving and snappy catch phrases such as, "Zounds! I own 300 shares of Apple stock!" Once rookie racers are ready, they'll switch seats with instructors and kindle rubber with 10 full laps around the speedway's 24-degree banked turns, imagining that 53,000 spectators are cheering them on as they take a respectable 17th place out of 12,000 cars.
Belmont Lanes courts globe-chuckers of all stripes and skill levels to set foot among its myriad lanes and entertainment apparatuses. Sextets of revelers can enjoy a two-hour party, which supplies the group with a pizza and pitcher of soda to celebrate the overthrow of pins and unification of hand and boulder. Meanwhile, cosmic bowling gives spatial thrills for late-night laning with the experience of visiting a galaxy of disco-ball planets. Party-goers should call at least one hour ahead of time to reserve their lane for cosmic bowling.
On September 1, Bristol Motor Speedway will be buried under one ton of bacon. At the first annual Tri-Cities BaconFest, the pungent pork will be served up in a multitude of ways: Visitors can snag it for free at bacon stations during three tasting times, sample it in vendors’ bacon-infused desserts and entrees, or attempt to shovel down three pounds of it to claim the title Lord of the Bacon during the Man vs. Bacon eating contest. Other swine-themed events include the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pigskin Challenge, where preregistered participants aged 5 and up test their throwing arms on an accuracy obstacle course. At the hog-calling competition, shouters stretch their lungs as they imitate the sounds of hogs and, later, the sounds of hogs imitating celebrities. The family-friendly event will donate part of its proceeds to the Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities, a nonprofit organization that raises contributions for educational, financial, social, and medical causes.
Wahoo’s Adventures refers to itself as the “original” whitewater outfitter, having facilitated outdoor excursions on rafts, tubes, canoes, and kayaks for the past three decades. Whitewater-rafting tours take place upon the Watauga River, the Nolichucky River, and Wilson Creek Gorge, three waterways with differing levels of frothiness, much like three cappuccinos ordered by a family of bears. Alternatively, adults without rafting experience and children as young as 6 months can lazily drift down the New River while sprawled across tubes. As they pass rugged hillsides and scenic farmland, tubers can smell wildflowers, listen to chirping birds, and keep eyes peeled for Sasquatch footprints. Keeping clients safe is Wahoo’s main priority, which is why their experienced guides equip adventurers with high-quality life jackets, helmets, and paddles before taking the water.