The Cumberland County Sesquicentennial summer events kick off on Thursday night, June 15, with the Taste of Crossville at 5:30 p.m. followed at 7:30 CDT by a free bluegrass concert featuring Rhonda Vincent and her fiery road band, The Rage; Mountain Heart, one of the most adventurous and exciting young acts in acoustic country/bluegrass music; and Cumberland County's own Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain.

An award-winning vocalist and six-time International Bluegrass Music Association Vocalist of the Year, Vincent was raised on bluegrass, first taking the stage with her family's band when she was barely 5 years old. She now is a resourceful multi-instrumentalist — mandolin, fiddle, guitar and most anything else with strings — heartfelt songwriter, esteemed band leader and a producer creating music which balances the timeless drive and soul of bluegrass with a subtle contemporary elegance.

Mountain Heart burst on the bluegrass scene in 1999 by being named Emerging Artist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association before the guys ever had a recording contract. Once established they were quickly embraced by the country and bluegrass community. The band now appears regularly on the Grand Old Opry and has opened for Ricky Skaggs, George Jones, Brad Paisley and LeAnn Rimes.

Cumberland County claims Carrie Hassler as its own and looks forward to the release of Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain's first recording on Rural Rhythm records in June 2006. Carrie grew up in a very musical family and comes by her talent honestly. She tried all different types of music, but felt at home when she sang her first bluegrass song. Carrie, lead vocalist, is joined by Josh S. on dobro, Travis on bass, Kevin on mandolin, Josh M. on banjo and Keith on guitar. Together they offer one of the most exciting new sounds in bluegrass today.

The sixth annual Taste of Crossville offers a sampling of the wares of local restaurants and caterers. The 2006 Taste will be held at the Cumberland County Community Complex beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under 5 sample free.

Friday night the Sesquicentennial Parade begins at 5:30. Following the parade, Al Mahon opens the evenings festivities with his hilarious songs with a moral. He is followed by the legendary Johnny Moore and local talent Sonny Norris on the Big Stage in front of the historical Cumberland County Courthouse. The 4th Street Bar-be-que Bash will provide food and refreshment for all those attending. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy the evening of fun and entertainment. Pony rides and petting zoo will provide activities for the youngest attending.

Saturday morning at 9 a.m. the Crossville Arts Council Depot Days opens with two music stages, craft vendors, children's activities, carnival rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, art shows, Native American dancers, food and family fun. The Big Stage in front of the courthouse features local talent, Jessica Heaton, Harlan Cox, Marley Wyatt, Teresa Wilson, Brandon Luttrill, Billy Currin, Boyd Wyatt and a few surprises. The Depot stage highlights the bluegrass heritage of the mountain with Misty Mountain Boys, Avery Trace, 11th Hour, Valley Grass and Cumberland Heart.

Come celebrate the 150th birthday of Cumberland County. For more information, call 456-2006. All times are Central Daylight Time.

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