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.
The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, running 2,180 miles over mountains, rocky slopes, and deep valleys. Since it was established in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has cared for the trail, maintaining 250,000 acres of public land. The organization educates hikers on Leave No Trace camping and why it's not a good idea to challenge a bear to a hugging contest.
Volunteers and trail crews build and repair shelters along the footpath and engage youth and community members in outdoor activities. In addition to these human-oriented services, the ATC works to protect endangered species living along the trail and to preserve the land's watershed streams and migratory corridor.
Having spent more than 24,000 hours at the controls of airborne helicopters and fixed-wing planes, Richard Cantley possesses a sure footing at any elevation. From his post within the gray T-hangar at the privately owned Johnson City Airport, the experienced pilot and flight instructor escorts first-time flyers to the skies during hands-on lessons. Whether students aspire to obtain a license of their own or just a panoramic view of Tennessee’s scenic landscape, Richard peppers each lesson with tips on how to read instruments, adhere to proper safety precautions, and swerve around zeppelins during rush hour.
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.
River and Earth Adventures stands out from other wilderness outfitters by being completely operated by their own guides. Their fleet of seasoned cave, mountain, and water-navigating guides work in tandem with professional ecologists and geologists, focusing Blue Ridge Mountains excursions on environmental education as well as adventure. During all day trips, guides divulge area history and expound on forest and river ecosystems as well as geology in caves whose interiors rest at 60 degrees year-round to keep them free of snowman hermits. Each trip also immerses adventurers in athletic activity, whether on hikes to summits and secluded waterfalls, spelunking through electricity-free cave tunnels, or rafting and kayaking down the Watauga River rapids. For those in search of extended excursions, guides lead children's adventure day camps and combination trips that further an environmental focus and bottle-cap collections through river cleanup projects.
Each pass is valid for multiple visits or multiple children. Passes can be redeemed during all open-bounce hours, excluding Parent’s Night Out. Parents can join their kids in the play structures at no additional cost.
[[m:####Leaping Lizards Family Entertainment Center
Leaping Lizards Family Entertainment Center’s inflatables range from rainbow-striped complexes of slides and obstacles to a wave-riding shark feasting on a boat. Youngsters—and parents, if they want—can bound across the bouncy surfaces during regular hours, or add some bounce to a birthday party, complete with pizza, drinks, and a private room. Alternatively, staffers who have undergone rigorous safety training supervise tots on Parents Night Out, a Friday-night event that replaces babysitters with bounce-house fun and gives parents an opportunity to check out the local fight club.