published Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Amid recovery, Ringgold pauses for celebration

IF YOU GO

What: 1890’s Day Jamboree

When: Friday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Downtown Ringgold, Ga.

Admission: free

In Ringgold, Ga., the show must go on.

Despite the April tornado that ravaged the area, the city will continue its 36-years-running 1890’s Day Jamboree this Friday and Saturday.

“It’s a means of keeping Ringgold alive,” event coordinator Ronal Graham said.

Graham, a local dentist, and about 45 volunteers spend the whole year organizing the free music and entertainment festival. The city-sponsored event costs about $20,000 and is expected to draw more than 1,500 people, he said.

“It’s like a great big city party,” Graham said. “Success is a lot of people showing up and having a good time and bringing people into our city that wouldn’t be here.”

The jamboree, which Graham said is the biggest event in Catoosa County, features gospel music, fiddle contests, an art show, car show, beauty pageants, fireworks and live music. The contests are judged by professionals brought in from across the South.

The two-day event shuts down three blocks of U.S. Highway 41, filling the streets with craft and food vendors and inflatable attractions for kids.

Graham has been in charge of organizing the event since 1990. He said the area where the jamboree is held largely was untouched by tornado damage, and his crew should be able to put on a good festival for the city.

“We try to keep everything on a very professional level,” he said. “But we have a lot of fun with this whole thing.”

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