Tuesday, July 22, 2014 · 11:26 a.m.
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Photographer Kim Hubbard brought her piece featuring kudzu on Signal Mountain into town for the Kudzu Festival on the North Shore—one of this weekend's many events. (Photo: Staff)

In case you were unaware, everything in the world is happening in Chattanooga this weekend.

RiverRocks kicks off its 10-day run of outdoor and nature-themed events. The Kudzu Festival unites North Shore businesses in a shared love of Chattanooga’s campy history. 

The Three Sisters Bluegrass Festival offers diehard fans and other musically inclined folks the chance to see a lineup of acts that could easily cost $75 per ticket—all for free. Wine over Water provides the chance to sample the fruits of more than 100 wineries' labor in the name of Chattanooga’s historical preservation.

It’s exciting. It’s overwhelming. It all bodes for one slightly disappointing realization: You won’t be able to go to everything.

To help you navigate the overlapping events, Nooga.com has planned out an itinerary that affords you the chance to do as much as you want without missing the must-see happenings of the weekend.

Keep in mind that our list does not include every single one of the weekend’s activities. Check in with the individual festival’s website for full schedules.

Friday
—6 p.m., Kudzu Festival: Mia Cucina hosts Kookin’ with chef Aletia DuPree. The Georgia native brings four generations of Southern cookin’ know-how to the table in her first book, “Deliciously Southern.” Tickets are $25 for the demonstration and tasting.

—6-11 p.m., Three Sisters Bluegrass Festival: The lineup for the first night is reason enough to stake out a prime spot on the launch and settle in for a full night of pickin’, rockin’, good-time music. The setlist starts off strong with Chattanooga’s own Dismembered Tennesseans; works its way through gospel group Dailey & Vincent and Grammy-nominated Blue Highway; and rounds out with the raucous, Colorado-based Yonder Mountain String Band.

Saturday
—7 a.m., RiverRocks: Hot air balloon rides! Yes, the price is steep ($250!), but if you’re willing to splurge in order to float through the sky in the oldest form of a human-carrying vessel, this is for you. The balloons will launch from Tyner High School and sail through the air under the supervision of a professional balloonist for an hour. Transportation back to Tyner will be provided.

—9 a.m.-1 p.m., RiverRocks: Put your time to good use with a volunteer shift with Tennessee River Rescue. Equipped with gloves, trash bags and a Dumpster, individuals and families can help remove trash from the banks and surface of the Scenic City’s waterway. 

—9 a.m.-6 p.m., Kudzu Festival: Before, after and in between the RiverRocks events, stroll over to Frazier Avenue and peruse the North Shore merchants’ sidewalk sales from Knitting Mill Antiques to Frankie and Julian’s to Mia Cucina. Times vary.

—10 a.m., Kudzu Festival: Two words. Kudzu Parade. Also, please note that Santa Claus and two marching bands will be on hand for this event on Frazier Avenue.

—11 a.m., RiverRocks: With a total of $5,000 on the line, the canoe/kayak race should be a fast-moving, colorful spectacle. Ross’s Landing serves as the starting line for the men’s elite, women’s elite, tandem kayak, canoe, and men’s and women’s touring kayak categories.

—3-6 p.m., RiverRocks: The ante has been upped for this later-in-the-day competition. A purse of $12,000 is up for grabs in the SUPSplash paddleboard race. Elite and amateur divisions for both men and women in long and short courses will makes their way around Maclellan Island.

Paddlers ready themselves for the canoe/kayak race. (Photo: CVB)

This is when the choices get harder, and even Nooga.com couldn’t pick a single option. Luckily, each event suits different personalities, and, as such, one is typically more dear to the heart than others. Whatever your pick, there’s no doubt you’ll have an exceptional Saturday night.

—12-10 p.m., Three Sisters Bluegrass Festival: The music starts at noon, but for those in the know, the party starts at 5:30 p.m. when Keller & the Keels (as in Keller Williams) hits the stage. The second day evening lineup promises to be a true treat, with the trio followed by North Carolina’s Steep Canyon Rangers and Williams compatriots the Travelin’ McCourys.

—5-8 p.m., Wine over Water: Cornerstones, the city’s chief nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation, has put together a bill of more than 100 wineries from around the world and set them all up in a row on the Walnut Street Bridge for epicurean and educational purposes. Tickets at the gate are $70, but can be purchased online for $65.

—8-11 p.m., Kudzu Festival: Back in the late 1970s, a group of Chattanoogans established their bluegrass-parking lot response to the Cottonball, the debutante ball for the city’s moneyed families. This year’s revival of the discontinued tradition will be an indoor affair at the Chattanooga Theatre Center, but will stay true to the down-home roots.

Sunday
—12-6 p.m., Kudzu Festival: Wind down from the weekend with a grand piano concert outside of Winder Binder Gallery and Bookstore. Then, head inside for the One Bridge Folk Art Festival. This will be the second day of the event, so the pace will be more relaxed, leaving you with plenty of room and time to explore the myriad of mediums and scores of artists featured on the gallery’s walls.

—All day, Kudzu Festival: Before heading home, pick up a cone of Kudzu Kream ice cream at Clumpies Ice Cream. The treat is 25 percent off regular store prices and was specially made for the weekend. 

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