The annual Secret City Festival started today, and it features Manhattan Project bus tours and history displays, World War II living history activities and demonstrations, arts and crafts and antiques dealers, food vendors and exhibitors, a children’s festival area and youth events, and a car show and concerts.
“Join more than 20,000 visitors and residents to celebrate the end of World War II and the heritage of Oak Ridge from 1945 to the present,” a press release said.
Oak Ridge was built during World War II as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project, a federal program to build the world’s atomic bombs, and the festival celebrates the city’s heritage.
Festival organizers have provided an overview of some of the many activities and events taking place at this year’s festival:
For History Buffs
From young to old and each step in between, the Secret City Festival offers several ways for the community and visitors to learn about the history and heritage of Oak Ridge.
Festival organizers are introducing a new “Salute to Soldiers” program featuring World War II living history activities and demonstrations at A.K. Bissell Park on Saturday, June 22. Period camps open at 9 a.m., with demonstrations running from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Vehicles of every kind from motorcycles and jeeps to halftracks and artillery will be on display.
Visit www.secretcityfestival.com to see the full list of living history demonstrations and times.
The American Museum of Science and Energy will once again be hosting the Manhattan Project bus tours from their parking lot. The tours include the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Graphite Reactor along with the U.S. Department of Energy Facilities Bus Tour and give visitors an opportunity to see original Manhattan Project facilities that are no longer open to the public on a regular basis. Tour participants must be 10 or older and have proof of U.S. citizenship.
Visit www.SecretCityFestival.com for more information and to find out exact departure times. Tour registration begins at 9 a.m. Visitors to AMSE will receive a special admission price of $1 during the festival.
The Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association is also committed to preserving the history of Oak Ridge and gives attendees a chance to see artifacts, memorabilia, and photos from before Oak Ridge was a city until the present day. ORHPA’s theme this year is “1943 Oak Ridge Making History 2013.” The ORHPA displays are located in the Civic Center “A, B and C” rooms, where everyone should go to learn about Oak Ridge, the people who built this amazing city, and the reason it was created.
The Center for Oak Ridge Oral History will be set up in the Club Room as well for their “Ask Me, I Was There” oral history project, where visitors can ask “original” Oak Ridgers about life during the Manhattan Project and the years following WWII.
The Secret City Scenic Excursion Train will also be chugging along on Friday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and a 6 p.m. dinner train. This is the only train of its kind in the United States, traveling over a mile through the historic and once secret K-25 site. For tickets and additional information, call (865) 241-2140.
The New Hope Center at Y-12 National Security Complex will be open on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for visitors to tour the history center and learn about the contributions of Y-12 to the community.
Arts and Cultural Activities
Arts and crafts vendors, antiques dealers, food vendors, and exhibitors can also be found scattered around the festival grounds.
TN Creates, a juried arts show in the Oak Ridge Civic Center gymnasium, features the area’s finest artisans, including woodworkers, potters, photographers, soap makers, gourd and glass artists, jewelers, printmakers, painters, and much more. Bill Capshaw will be on hand once again to give Raku pottery firing demonstrations in front of the Civic Center. Other artists will be demonstrating throughout the day in their booths or in the designated demonstration area.
Just for Kids
This year’s Children’s Festival Area will feature exciting activities for kids of all ages. The Toddler’s Area is always a popular site and will feature inflatable games, a sand treasure pit, hay bale maze, and bumper cars. Older kids will enjoy the arts and crafts area, face painting, Little Trains, Eurobungy, the Dino Dig, the Science Village sponsored by UT-Battelle, and much more.
Youth events include water slides, Zorbie balls, zip lines, Jacobs Ladder, and the BMX Bike Show in the back parking lot behind AMSE. The Freestyle Connection-BMX Bike Stunt Show includes a giveaway for a BMX entry-level bicycle. You must be 18 to enter, and only one entry per person is allowed.
Many of the children’s activities are also included in the “Playful City Kid Circuit.” Children must collect one bracelet from five designated children’s area activities. When five different colored bracelets have been collected, participants can go to the Playful City registration tent in front of the water station in the children’s area. At the registration tent, participants can register and redeem the bracelets for one free admission to the Municipal Outdoor Pool.
Other Outside Events
The Festival will host its first Cornhole Tournament on Saturday from noon until 4 p.m. in the Concert area. Teams can sign up for a $20 fee from 10 a.m. to noon. The prize money will be given to the winning team.
Car enthusiasts will enjoy the Secret City Cruise-in Car Show featuring free public viewing of vintage vehicles from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the AMSE lower parking lot and grounds. The car show is sponsored by the Clinton Region AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America).
The USEC Pavilion Stage also features free outdoor entertainment both days from music to dancing to juggling.
On the UCOR Concert Stage
The two-day family event also features nationally known entertainers Friday and Saturday nights.
Knoxville-native rock band The Dirty Guv’nahs will perform Friday, June 21, at 7 p.m. on the UCOR Concert Stage. The Friday night concert, sponsored by Lamar Dunn and Associates, also features Soul Candy and The Traffic Jam as the opening act.
CROET and Pro2Serve are proud to present Grammy Award-winning rock icon, Rick Springfield, as the headline entertainment on Saturday, June 22, at 7 p.m. on the UCOR Concert Stage. American Idol contestant Casey Abrams will serve as the opening act.
Tickets for the festival concerts are $20 each and may be purchased online at www.secretcityfestival.com, by phone at (865) 482-4432, or in person at the Oak Ridge Civic Center at 1403 Oak Ridge Turnpike. The full Secret City Festival schedule with times for all events, festival information, and news updates can be found at www.secretcityfestival.com. The Secret City Festival is presented by the City of Oak Ridge, the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Arts Council of Oak Ridge. Check out our Secret City Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SecretCityFestival.