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Annual Joe Barlow cruise-in and memorial ride draws large crowd

Anna Dickens

By Jinifer Rae
Freelance Writer

Mountain City’s Main Street looked very different on Friday night as excited spectators came to the 8th annual car and bike show benefitting the Joe Barlow Scholarship fund. Dozens of vintage, classic, antique, hot rods, and muscle cars, as well as motorcycles, lined the streets for visitors to admire.  A feeling of a community coming together was unquestionably felt as friends and neighbors greeted one another and remembered Barlow.

“I really appreciate everyone coming out,” said Nancy Bentley, Barlow’s sister. “Dave and Tina Lipford helped sponsor the event, and they are wonderful, they do a lot for the community, and this event gets bigger and bigger every year.”

Joe Barlow, 55, a twenty year veteran of the Johnson County EMS, died in the line of duty as a result of a tragic two-vehicle accident in 2009 at the Johnson City Medical Center. According to law enforcement officials, the wreck happened on Highway 67 at mile marker 2, about a mile north of Butler in Johnson County. According to THP an oncoming vehicle crossed the center lane of Highway 67 and hit the Johnson County Rescue Squad ambulance driven by Barlow pushing the ambulance off the road, flipping it over an embankment. Rescue squad worker Kevin Colson of Laurel Bloomery was also in the ambulance at the time. But last week’s memorial was not about Joe’s tragic accident but about his life, as classic rock and roll played in the background, people of all ages enjoyed a beautiful evening including some of the delicious food offered such as homemade baked goods, BBQ, and Oreo pops. Proceeds from the evening cruise-in as well as the Joe Barlow Memorial Ride held the following morning, go to the Joe Barlow Scholarship Fund. Bentley explained that as it has been the case in the past eight years, the purpose of the scholarship is to help high school graduating seniors seeking education in the medical field.

“Last year we were able to assist two students with $1,000 each,” she said adding that interested students must fill out an application, meet certain grade requirements, and of course “have a financial need to be eligible to receive the award.”

To complete the event on Saturday morning a large group of bikers departed from Ralph Stout Park for the memorial ride; the journey that began in Mountain City, going through Laurel Bloomery to Damascus and White Top Mountain before making a full circle. Judging by the turnout and the funds raised, the cruise-in and the 120-mile long memorial ride organized by local motorcycle group, the Johnson County Knights, continues to be a very successful way to help keep the scholarship program going.
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