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 Area 3 Special Olympics will be hosting our annual Track and Field Event on Thursday, April 27, and Friday, April 28, 2017.  The events will be held at the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.  This event brings together athletes from Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, and Washington counties in order to participate in several athletic sporting events of their choice.  The events available include wheelchair races, standing long jump, softball throw and several dash events. 
On April 27TH, athletes from ages 8-21 will attend and on April 28th athletes from ages 22 and up will attend.   Opening Ceremonies on both days will include a Parade of Athletes.  The color guard will present the colors and all will unite in the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance, singing The National Anthem and invocation.   The torch run will be held on April 27th, which is made possible by the JCPD, EMS and local fire departments and their supportive service men and women.   After the parade, specially selected athlete Garrison Buchanan will light the torch. 
For more information, please contact the Special Olympics office at 1-888-915-7227.  You can also follow or message us on our Facebook page, Area 3 Special Olympics, or our Twitter feed @Area3SpclOlympc.  We sincerely invite all family, friends, and the public to come out and support these athletes on such an uplifting and exciting day for athletes, coaches, parents, and volunteers alike.
The Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum will offer their 6th Annual Yard Sale Fundraiser during the park’s “Celebration of Spring” event on Saturday, April 22 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to the annual plant sale and workshops, the Yard Sale Fundraiser will offer a variety of items for purchase, and all proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum.

Donations of all applicable items except clothing and shoes are needed. Members of the public may drop off items at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park office building (the brick building on Shawnee Ave right across the street from the Museum) Tuesdays-Fridays between 1 0:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. from March 28 through April 14.

The Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and items are tax-deductible.

For more information about Friends of the Museum: Celebration of Spring or the annual Yard Sale Fundraiser, please call the Museum at 276-523-1322 or email swvamuseum@dcr.virginia.gov.

The award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The 2017 “Gathering in the Gap” Music Festival, featuring Steep Canyon Rangers and Dave Eggar & Deoro, offers area songwriters entry into its annual songwriting contest. A crowd favorite, the songwriting contest showcases outstanding, but under-recognized, performing songwriters who represent the spirit and traditions of Appalachian culture. “Gathering in the Gap” will be held at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap on Saturday, May 27.

Song topics include songs relative to Americana and related topics and topical songs about historic or current events. Song genres should have roots in Appalachian culture, such as Old-Time, Folk, Bluegrass, Country, Gospel, Blues and Rockabilly. A panel of professional songwriters, publishers, or other music industry professionals will judge entries based on the following criteria: originality, lyrics, melody, and relevance to criteria. Music production and performance quality of submittal are not considered. From the original mailed CD entries, panelists will choose 10 finalists, who will compete on the main stage in the Gathering in the Gap’s songwriting contest. Each finalist will be given a free-access ticket to the festival, along with a festival t-shirt. The top three winners will receive cash prizes and plaques.The entry deadline is April 28, 2017 by 4 p.m. with an entry fee of $10 for the first song and $5 for a second song. Please send a CD copy of the submission with a check or money order payable to the Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum, 106 West 1st Street North, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219, or drop off during business hours at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap, VA.  All entries must arrive by deadline, not by postmark.
For a complete set of competition rules, a schedule of events, or a downloadable registration form, please visit the festival website at www.gatheringinthegapmusicfestival.com and click on “Songwriting Contest.”  For more information about the songwriting contest or festival events, please call the museum at 276-523-1322 or visit the website mentioned above. 

The first annual Virginia Creeper Fest will be held Saturday April 29, 2017 in Abingdon. The family-friendly festival celebrates the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Virginia Creeper Trail, and highlights the multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities along the trail.  The festival includes hands-on activities and demos for all ages, live music, food trucks, and information about how to get outside and enjoy the Creeper Trail.
Designed to be a hands-on experience, the VA Creeper Fest encourages attendees to practice, interact and get involved.  From bouldering practice, stand-up paddleboarding demos, disc dog exhibitions, and field games for the kids, to tree identification along the trail and guided nature walks, there will be plenty to keep the hard core outdoor enthusiasts and novice nature lovers busy all day.
There will be also be live music, food trucks and local outfitters throughout the day, as well as raffle giveaways.
The festival takes place in Abingdon, at the intersection of Green Spring Road and A Streets, near the trailhead.  Additional activities, like nature walks and bike rides, will take place on the trail itself. A full schedule and festival guide will be available on www.vacreeperfest.com .


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