Sweetwater preparing for large crowd at eclipse festival

SWEETWATER (WATE) – City leaders in Sweetwater are busy preparing to welcome people from all the world on August 21 for the eclipse festival.

According to NASA, the moon’s full shadow will pass directly over the southern part of East Tennessee. Sweetwater is expecting more than 2.5 minutes of totality.

The town will host a festival in the heart of Sweetwater. They’ve been planning the event for more than a year

“We have people coming from all over the world. We have 34 states represented, people who have bought T-shirts or parking passes, and people from five other countries: Amsterdam, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom,” said Jessica Morgan, festival co-chair.

Related story: Monroe County deputies to only respond to emergency calls on day of eclipse

Morgan said parking spots are nearly sold out and she recommends if you haven’t purchased one already, you should make alternate plans.

“If you wake up Monday and suddenly decide you want to go to Sweetwater, it’s probably a bad idea,” said Morgan.

Several alternate viewing areas have been set up including an area on Pleasant Grove Road just off of Interstate 75, Sweetwater High School and Tsali Notch Vineyard.

“I-75 will probably be very busy that day so we’re recommending people consider Highway 11, Highway 411,” said Morgan. “Fill up your gas tank, bring extra water, any medical supplies you need because you may be sitting in traffic before and after.”

Morgan reminds people to make sure you bring solar eclipse glasses with you. The city only has a handful left to sell.

“We figure not everyone will be able to make it downtown for the actual festival, but if you get anywhere in Monroe County you’re going to get a great view,” said Morgan.

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