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Car and bike show, memorial ride a huge success

The upper end of Main Street in Mountain City was packed with classic cars and excited spectators at Friday night’s very successful Joe Barlow/ Kim Sutton Car and Bike Show. Besides the dozens of hotrods, restored classics, and souped-up muscle cars there were vendors, live music, kids’ games, and fun for people of all ages. The cruise-in was a part of a two-day event in honor of Johnson County paramedic Joe Barlow who passed away in September of 2009 following a tragic traffic accident while on duty that also claimed the life of a patient in transport.
Proceeds from the cruise-in as well as the Joe Barlow Memorial Ride held Saturday morning, go to the Joe Barlow/ Kim Sutton Scholarship Fund. Kim Sutton was a 16-year employee of Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center who built a reputation for her kindness and dedication. Sutton continued working even after being diagnosed with cancer and was eventually admitted as a patient in the care center where she passed away.
In honor of these two individuals, the Johnson County EMS and the employees of the Mountain City Care Center teamed up to create a scholarship in their names. The scholarship is intended to aid high school seniors seeking education in the medical field. Interested students must fill out an application, meet certain grade requirements, write an essay, and have a financial need to be eligible to receive the award. Organized by local motorcycle group, the Johnson County Knights, the cruise-in and memorial ride proved to be very successful fundraisers to help keep the scholarship program going.
Admission to the cruise-in was free but there was a $10 vehicle registration fee for the display cars. A 50/50 drawing was held and t-shirts were also sold to help generate funding for the scholarship. Main Street was closed from the junction with US 421 to the corner near the Hux-Lipford Funeral Home. “40 Caliber,” a local rock band sponsored by Parsons Quick Shop, was set up on a platform at the end of the car show and played throughout the evening. Cars began arriving at 6 and the show lasted until 9:30. There was a sizeable turnout with large crowds of people checking out the cars and motorcycles as well as a display of local public service vehicles including a medical helicopter.
The Joe Barlow Memorial Ride took place at 11:00 Saturday morning in Ralph Stout Park. Hundreds of motorcycles and their riders lined up to make an 81-mile journey beginning in Mountain City and going through Laurel Bloomery to Damascus and White Top Mountain before making a circle and ultimately ending up at Calvary Baptist Church in Cold Springs.
A registration fee of $15 for single riders and $20 for couples also went to the scholarship fund. The ride kicked off following an introduction by Willie Debord, Barlow’s brother and a fellow member of the Johnson County EMS. Giving some of the background behind the ride, Debord announced that Kevin Colson, a paramedic who had been seriously injured in the accident that claimed Barlow’s life, would be participating in the ride as well. Barlow’s grandson, Paycen Odom, lead the group on its initial leg through Mountain City as the motorcycles made their way around the Johnson County EMS along Joe Barlow Way.
Organizers for the ride included Dan and Tina Lipford, James and Jennifer Brown, Starling McCloud, Kim Kleine, and Tiffany Taylor. At the end of the ride the bikers were treated with a huge meal prepared by the members of Calvary Baptist Church. Following the unexpectedly high turnout plans are being made to establish the fundraisers as an annual event. The continued support of the community ensures that the legacy of both Sutton and Barlow will live long into the future, setting a lasting example for a new generation of health care professionals.