Town celebrates with River Day event, barbecue contest and music festival – The Courier

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Saltillo Alderman Teresa Morgan and artist Becky Bass Carter in front of a new mural created for the city’s 200th anniversary.

Saltillo turns 200 this weekend.
The anniversary celebration on Saturday, September 24 is part of Saltillo’s annual River Day event, which returns after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic.
Saltillo’s River Day is a one-day festival that pays homage to the city’s river history and heritage.
“It will be a fun family event with games, food vendors, crafts and activities for children,” said Saltillo Mayor Larry Lowery.
“It is also a time when many former residents visit and reminisce about their time living in the city. Additionally, local residents and visitors come to enjoy the day and fellowship with others,” Lowery added. .
The city also celebrated its upcoming 200th anniversary with a new downtown mural at the corner of Main Street and Tennessee 69.
The mural was created by Saltillo resident Becky Bass Carter, who updated a design she had previously created.
“Before I had to close due to Covid, I owned and operated an art gallery in Saltillo and created a similar design for the postcards sold in my shop. The city then asked me if I could create something similar for a mural for residents and visitors, and have it ready in time to celebrate its 200th anniversary,” Carter said.
The design features scenes and details important to Saltillo, including a deer that appears to be jumping out of the paint, a catfish to honor the town’s fishing activities, Sulfur Well Spring and the phrase “Little Skip”, which translates to Saltillo in Spanish.
According to historical records, Saltillo was founded by Thomas Shannon in October 1822. He had left Davidson County, Tennessee and arrived in the area on a keelboat with enough provisions to last a year and with six men to help him . The men arrived by way of the Tennessee River and built a camp about half a mile up the river.
Shannon’s wife and seven children came overland and soon after their arrival Shannon and his sons built a log cabin in 1825, serving as the first house built in Saltillo.
Shortly after, a warehouse was built by Smith Hawkins for the distribution of dry goods, and the area where this warehouse was built is now called Hawkin’s Landing.
Other settlers came to the area, and another store was built a quarter mile south of the first store by Hawkin’s brother Perry.
In 1842, Thomas Davy bought the land that once belonged to Thomas Shannon and it was named Davy’s Landing. In 1849 Davy leased the land to Scott Terry, who renamed the area Saltillo. The town was named Saltillo by Terry, who was a veteran of the Mexican-American War. Saltillo’s post office was opened in 1850 and the town was incorporated in 1870.
“Terry’s wartime experience in Mexico led to the town’s current name and the inclusion of the Spanish phrase for Saltillo, ‘Little Skip’ on the mural is a nod to the history of our town,” Carter said.
She also hopes the mural will help the city’s tourism industry.
“The city wanted to do something that would last for both our residents and our visitors. We want people to come to Saltillo and take pictures with the mural and explore our great little town,” Carter added.
The mural took approximately 45 days to paint, and the design will also be featured on t-shirts that will be available for sale during the city’s River Day event.
In addition to the River Day festivities, Saltillo also hosts the Tennessee River BBQ Battle and Music Festival this weekend.
“We are very happy to also have the BBQ competition in Saltillo. We have worked hard to ensure that competitors have adequate electricity and water hookups, as well as other necessary accommodations, and we hope that it will be an annual event,” said Saltillo Alderman Teresa Morgan.
Morgan said the city also hopes to make River Day a bigger event next year.
“Unfortunately we won’t be having a parade this year. I know a lot of people really enjoy watching and participating in the River Day parade as they have done in years past, but after having to cancel the parade last year in Due to Covid issues, we weren’t quite sure what this year would be like, however we intend to have the parade return as a regular fixture on River Day,” said Morgan.
The BBQ Battle and Music Festival will be held at the intersection of Main Street and Shoreline Drive on the bank of the Tennessee River on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saltillo’s river day is also Saturday. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. in the City Hall parking lot, 160 Oak Avenue, and continue all night with live music ending around 11 p.m.

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