The Secret City Festival will expand into a week-long celebration in June, and it will be called the Secret City Celebration.
The change has been announced by Celebrate Oak Ridge, a nonprofit organization created by the Oak Ridge City Council to take over the production of the festival from the city.
The Secret City Celebration will include a full week of events celebrating the arts, culture, and history of Oak Ridge, organizers said. It will kick off with an opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, June 2, 2017. It will include events presented by Celebrate Oak Ridge and other partner organizations.
“A crowd favorite, World War II Living History, will serve as the kickoff event on June 2 and 3, with re-enactments scheduled on Saturday,” a press release said.
“This year will also include a salute to heroes with displays and activities from military and first responder agencies,” the release said. “Throughout the weekend, living history enactments of veterans and first responders will be presented from the event stage.”
A concert will also help kick off the fun-filled week, the press release said.
On June 9 and 10, the Secret City Festival will host vendor booths, food, children’s activities, and free concerts both evenings. There will be many other events throughout the week to include concerts in various locations across the city, movies in the park, and recreational events.
Also, an Evening with the Arts, produced in conjunction with United Way of Anderson County, will be available, the press release said.
“Many rumors have circulated about the demise of the Secret City Festival,” said Mike Brown, Celebrate Oak Ridge chair. “However, these are simply not true. We are building upon the success of the past Secret City Festivals and, given the amount of development in the city and infrastructure changes, we are spreading events out to encompass and showcase many areas in our community.”
There have been many studies and focus groups, and Celebrate Oak Ridge has developed an expanded celebration that will include diverse events to showcase Oak Ridge’s arts, culture, history, and diversity, Brown said.
Celebrate Oak Ridge is working with nonprofit organizations to collaborate on more events. For more information, or to learn how you can participate, send an email to [email protected].
There will be future announcements of events and schedules, the press release said.
Still planned are many of the events that have been part of the annual Secret City Festival: World War II re-enactments, concerts, entertainment, children’s activities, historical displays, arts and crafts, vendors, and bus tours of historical sites in Oak Ridge.
The Oak Ridge City Council will consider authorizing up to $50,000 for next year’s Secret City Festival/Celebration during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 13, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here. Brown will also give an update. The city has in the past contributed money and city staff time to the festival. The goal now is to have the Secret City Celebration be self-sustaining within five years.
Oak Ridge Today recently interviewed Brown about the potential changes to the festival. Here is some of what we learned:
- Some changes, such as the redevelopment of the former Oak Ridge Mall as Main Street Oak Ridge, along with the move of the Senior Center to the Civic Center, are expected to affect parking for the Secret City Festival, which is already past capacity. The week-long Celebration will spread out events, and organizers can have different events for different demographics at different venues throughout the city, including, for example, the waterfront, Brown said. The re-enactment may not be at Alvin K. Bissell Park, he said. But there are expected to be movies at the park, and concerts throughout the week.
- The final weekend of the Secret City Celebration will resemble the Secret City Festival, although the traditional Saturday re-enactments will already be done. There will still be two nights of concerts, like at the Secret City Festival. But, “our intention is to make everything free,” Brown said. The entertainment could be scaled back to appeal to all economic levels.
- Veterans could tell their stories during the re-enactments, Brown said. Current military personnel and first responders could be brought in during the Heroes Day. There could also be displays and interactive exhibits.
- The Celebration is using parts of Dogwood Arts in the Knoxville area as a model, with events throughout the week by nonprofit organizations. Celebrate Oak Ridge will help with marketing and logistics, among other things. It’s part of an effort developed by a Special Events Task Force set up by Council that led to Celebrate Oak Ridge and was designed to determine how to use events to attract tourists and celebrate the city’s arts, culture, history, and diversity. (See also this story.)
- Celebrate Oak Ridge will work with people throughout the year, Brown said. Organizations and events they’ve already worked with or intend to work with are Butterflies for Hope, Breakfast Rotary Club, and Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association, which has had history exhibits at the Secret City Festival. “We’re really trying to keep those essential pieces and blow them out over a week,” Brown said.
- Celebrate Oak Ridge is coordinating with organizations that have presented the festival in the past, including the City of Oak Ridge, Explore Oak Ridge (Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau), and the Arts Council of Oak Ridge. The goal is to have the Secret City Celebration be self-sustaining within five years.
See our previous Secret City Festival coverage here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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