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Secret City Festival
mid June – Oak Ridge, Tennessee
The Secret City Festival features a wide variety of events and activities for the entire family in June.
The “original” festival concept began in 1982 as the Azalea Festival, a small one-day arts and crafts show featuring food and entertainment. The celebration grew and evolved over the years and “Mayfest” became its official title in 1990.
Until 1992, most of the activity took place on the Civic Center Plaza and was known as the Plaza Party. When the Performing Arts Pavilion was completed, all the entertainment was moved out into the park and the weekend was renamed “Party in the Park”.
In 2003, “Mayfest” was changed to the “Secret City Festival” to showcase Oak Ridge’s heritage. In 2004, in a continuing effort to improve the festival, the dates were changed in hopes of missing the unpredictable May weather.
The mission of the Secret City Festival is to become a premier event in East Tennessee while fostering pride and involvement in the Oak Ridge community by showcasing its diversity through cultural events and activities for people of all ages. The festival promotes the history of the city and unites its World War II heritage with the technological advancements that are ongoing within the City of Oak Ridge.
The theme for this festival is “From the 40's to the Future.”
To understand the festival, you must first understand the city. Oak Ridge is a city built of war, living for peace, and growing through science. In the early 1940’s, while Hitler and the Germans struggled to find the fuel source for a weapon that would give them the ultimate power, the United States was in the same race against time. In 1942, when thousands of soldiers were battling on the front lines across Europe, the U.S. government was looking for a site where they could build a top-secret city that would be used to create the world’s first Atomic Bomb. That city, which was enclosed behind a fence from 1942 until 1949 and was not even on a map until 1949, is now called Oak Ridge. It stands as a living testimony to the hard work, secrecy, and insurmountable courage of a people whose hope of ending the war gave them the strength they needed to leave their families behind and travel to a city that didn’t exist to work on a top-secret mission called the Manhattan Project.
The city-wide festival highlights the heritage of Oak Ridge and its role in ending WWII by developing the world’s first atomic weapon. Below is a brief description of what the annual festival includes.
The largest multi-battle WWII re-enactment in the South.
Nationally acclaimed concert headliners on Friday and Saturday nights
Tours of original Manhattan Project sites
A children’s festival area includes free games and activities for kids of all ages
Historic displays and artifacts from America’s Secret City and a chance to speak with Manhattan Project veterans about their role in the project
A Manhattan Project Reunion
Arts and crafts vendors
Food vendors and exhibitors
Bicycle stunt show
Juried Arts Fair
Live music and entertainment from local and regional artists
Fun, food, music, and history the whole family can enjoy!
For more information on Oak Ridge’s Secret City Festival visit:
For other events in Tennessee take a look at:
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