Tennessee announces what’s new for 2019


Tourism in Tennessee continues to expand with new attractions, impressive state-of-the-art developments, expansions and milestone anniversary celebrations of iconic attractions that help shape “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”

2019 marks several milestones in Tennessee, including Memphis’ Bicentennial, Bijou Theatre’s 110th anniversary in Knoxville, and the 25th anniversary of the RC MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle. Embrace the history, relive the stories and create memories. Here’s what’s new in 2019 for Tennessee.


Tennessee Music Pathways

The pathways connect the traveler to the people, places and genres that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America, from the largest cities to the smallest communities. Whether it is a story of the past, a star of the present or promise of the future, historic or live, Tennessee Music Pathways go where the music does.

Tennessee Songwriters Week

Songs penned in Tennessee make the Soundtrack of America. A new state statute passed, annually designating the last full week of February as “Tennessee Songwriters Week.” The week is designed to celebrate the foundation of the craft, recognize songwriters and pave the way for future artists.


Baxter Seminary Park

Baxter Seminary Park will include a new live music amphitheater and walking trails, set to open in 2019.


25th Annual RC-MoonPie Festival

A quarter century celebration of the ultimate Southern tradition: RC Cola and MoonPies will be packed with fun and a reunion of the past 25 year’s Kings and Queens on June 15, 2019.


Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Walk through the pages of storybooks in the exhibit “Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children’s Literature” February-June 2019.

The exhibit “American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart” Aug. 2019-Jan. 2020 features photos of the people and places captured by the country music star since he first went on tour with Lester Flatt at age 13.

100th Birthday of Tennessee Ernie Ford

Bristol native Ernie Ford was most notably known for his hit song “Sixteen Tons,” which sold 20 million copies. During his birthday week starting Feb. 13, there will be celebrations featuring his son, Buck.

Lost State Distilling

The new distillery produces small batch gin, rum and Tennessee whiskey. Lost State has a tasting room, production area, retail area and event space.


I-40 Solar Farm

Information and Welcome Center

The new welcome center and solar farm greets visitors traveling on I-40. An interactive exhibit, designed by the University of Tennessee, highlights the state’s advancements in renewable energy.


Hiwassee River Heritage Center

The interpretive center and National Park Service-certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail will expand with new exhibits and an education room.


Edwin Hotel

The new upscale, five-story boutique hotel includes 90 rooms, meeting space, upscale décor, rooftop bar, local art and a restaurant.

Fallen Five Memorial

A dedication ceremony for an unveiling of a memorial honoring the five service members killed in the July 2015 terrorist attack on two local military sites will be in July 2019 at Tennessee Riverpark.

Moxy Hotel

The new boutique hotel includes 102 rooms, free Wi-Fi, cushy beds, stylish design, vibrant community spaces, in-room storage (enough to fit a bicycle) and a bar.

Moon River Music Festival

The Moon River Festival moves from Memphis to Coolidge Park in Chattanooga. The two-day family-friendly festival Sept. 7-8, 2019 highlights the music and culture of Tennessee.

Read House Historic Hotel

Undergoing $20 million in renovations, the hotel will upgrade the 242 guest rooms with new technology and bathroom furnishings, as well as redesign the lobby, ballroom and restaurant.

Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls unveiled a $20 million expansion with upgrades like an outdoor observation area, improved ticketing experience, expanded retail, LED lights and additional parking.

The Signal

The Signal is Chattanooga’s newest live music venue. The 1,300-capacity warehouse plans to host all genres of music, receptions, fundraisers, corporate events and conferences.


Ridley Sports Complex Expansion

The sports complex expands with seven new soccer fields including a championship field complete with bleachers, a press box, a new concession facility, restrooms and parking.


The Broastery · Tennessee Coffee Roasters

Cookeville’s only craft coffee roaster’s new storefront pairs with brands such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey to create locally roasted flavors and blends.

Saltbox Inn & Stables


Saltbox Inn & Stables now includes hosting areas at The Loft, Three Trees Ceremony Site, and The Greenhouse. The new lodging, Pumphouse Cabin, is directly on the property’s waterfall.

The Shoppes at Eagle Pointe

The new 25,000 square feet of retail space on 42 acres features 1,200 parking spaces with Publix, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Ulta, Michael’s and more.

Tennessee Legend Distillery at Maddux Place

A staple in East Tennessee, Tennessee Legend Distillery expands with a new sipping shop and free tastings at the historic Putnam County Courthouse.


Rhea Heritage and Scopes Trial Museum

The historic museum in the basement of the Rhea County Courthouse is now open after upgrades and renovations.  It’s the site of the 1925 Scopes Trial over the teaching of evolution.


The Harpeth Hotel

The Harpeth Hotel will be located along Franklin’s iconic Main Street. The four-diamond, 119-room luxury hotel will feature a gourmet chef-led restaurant, spa, whiskey-focused bar, and walkability to Main Street. Franklin will open an additional six hotels in 2019, totally over 1,000 rooms.

Carter House Visitor Center

The Carter House, one of three historic museums on the battlefield of the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, will open a new visitor center with a museum and orientation center, similar to its sister property, Carnton.

Leiper’s Fork Winery

Eric and Samantha Coghlan, who began their winemaking in California at the Coghlan Vineyard in 2008, now bring their award-winning wines and minimalist farming approach to Leiper’s Fork Winery.

231 Public Square & Ruby Sunshine

The newly renovated mixed-use development on the square on Franklin’s iconic Main Street downtown will feature Ruby Sunshine – a new concept from New Orleans’ famed The Ruby Slipper Cafe, along with locally-owned boutique shops and a rooftop restaurant and bar.


Grit, Grace and Grub

The new Grit, Grace and Grub food and bluegrass festival Sept. 7, 2019 will take visitors on a grub tour offering a taste of Gallatin’s local eateries.


Ole Red Gatlinburg

Opening Spring 2019, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red Gatlinburg features a two-story bar and restaurant, retail area, performance space, dance floor, outdoor terrace and Southern fare like hot chicken and waffles.


Hands On! Discovery Center

The brand new all-ages science center offers fun interactive programs and exhibits including a musical Tesla coil, giant building blocks and a maker studio inviting guests to engineer a rocket, create a masterpiece and uncover something new.

Auditions to begin for ‘Trip Home’

Local stories from local people will be the focus of the upcoming play.


The Jonesborough Storytelling Initiative will present a brand-new play based on stories drawn from local community members. “The Long Trip Home” will hold its world debut in February of 2019, and auditions for the play will be held Dec.10-11 at the McKinney Center from 6 to 8 p.m.

Playwright Jules Corriere created this play which comes from more than 40 oral stories that have been collected throughout the year by the members of the Jonesborough Story Brigade.

The Brigade members, who have been trained in interviewing individuals as well as holding story circles, provided a rich source of material for the play through these interviews. Transcripts of the interviews were made, and all of the stories that were collected during this period, whether they became part of the play or not, will be archived with the Heritage Alliance for future generations.

“The Long Trip Home” focuses on the lives of ordinary people who encounter extraordinary life circumstances. Often, these harrowing (or hilarious) events lead these beloved community characters away from home, leaving them to discover their own way back.

Wilma Chandley navigates life after losing her hearing, and later, after losing much more, and becomes for many a model of living in grace despite life’s rocky path.

Vincent Dial finds his way to his calling, moving away from a path he was born into, and finding a trail that led to where he was destined to be.

Sue Henley shares a residence with someone (or something) from another century, and each tries to be at home with the other.

Johnny Russaw’s story recounts his days as a football player at ETSU during a turning point moment in the country, and what it meant for him to be on the “home team” during those times.

These are just a few of the dozens of stories found in this new work, which will be performed at the McKinney Center in February and March of 2019.

Corriere, who will direct the play, encourages community members from all backgrounds to attend auditions and be a part of the show.

“The stories come from and belong to the community. They should be the ones telling these important stories of their family, friends, and neighbors. There are roles for people of all ages and from all backgrounds,” she said.

Corriere points out that the cast for these productions are large, in order to tell and honor so many important stories. 

“There are lots of roles for children, teens, young adults, and seniors. Everyone is welcome,” she said.

During the auditions,  scenes for reading will be provided. There will be original music in the play, so those who wish to audition for singing parts and solos may bring a prepared song.

The production will also require backstage and technical help. Those interested in volunteering for this production should also come to auditions and fill out a volunteer form.

The play will be cast immediately after auditions so cast members will have an opportunity to get familiar with their roles. Rehearsals will begin the first week in January.

For more information, emails Jules Corriere at the McKinney Center at julesc@jonesboroughtn.org of reach her by phone at (423) 794-6320.

Holiday Soups and Songs event to raise funds for Yarn Exchange


It’s dinner and a show.

The Yarn Exchange presents its annual fundraiser at the McKinney Center to kick-off the holiday season on Monday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.. The event will include hand-crafted ceramic bowls, appetizers, an all-you-can-eat soup  buffet, salad, dessert, and drinks followed by a sing-along with stories by the Yarn Exchange Radio Show players and the Jonesborough Novelty Band. Proceeds benefit the Mary B. Martin Programs for the Arts at the McKinney Center.

Tickets are $25. For more information call (423)753-1010 or purchase tickets, go to www.jonesborough.com/tickets.

Worldwide ‘Tellebration’ coming to Jonesborough


Storytellers and listeners will come together on Sunday, Nov.18, to celebrate a worldwide event known as Tellabration, a production of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild. 

The show begins at 2 p.m. at the McKinney Arts Center, at the corner of East Main Street and Franklin Avenue, with doors opening at 1:30 for seating.

The event will be abuzz with “Stories, Songs and Spoons” featuring global sensation Abby The Spoon Lady with her “one man band,” Chris Rodrigues. 

Joining Abby will be nationally acclaimed storyteller, Barbara McBride Smith, and Jonesborough Storytellers Guild members, Betty Ann Polaha and Dr. Bruce Montgomery. 

Tellabration hosts will be Jimmy Neil Smith, founder of the National Storytelling Festival and the International Storytelling Center along with David Joe Miller, professional storyteller and founder of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild.

In 1988, Stamford, Connecticut storyteller, J.G. “Paw Paw” Pinkerton created Tellabration with the vision that storytellers and story listeners across the globe would come together on the same day at the same time to tell and listen to wonderful stories.  Today Tellabration events are held all over the world during the third weekend in November.  Events encompass six continents, nine countries and forty United States. Over 300 audiences, worldwide, gather together to hear stories.  Tellabration operates under the umbrella of the National Storytelling Network based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Barbara McBride Smith is a retired librarian and seminary professor who was able to weave the role of professional storyteller into her career.  She is a veteran of the National Storytelling Festival stages, former board member of the National Storytelling Association, member of the National Storytelling Circle of Excellence and recipient of the John Henry Faulk award for outstanding contributions to storytelling.  Barbara recently made Jonesborough her home when she moved here in October.

Betty Ann Polaha and Dr. Bruce Montgomery are popular performing members of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild.  Betty Ann has been named Outstanding Storytelling Performer at East Tennessee State University and travels the country telling stories at a variety of events.  Dr. Montgomery is a professor of communications at Milligan College where he has created a strong emphasis on the storytelling arts over the past couple of decades.   

The Jonesborough Storytellers Guild, created by David Joe Miller in 1994, is the oldest performing storytelling guild in the nation and continues to offer weekly storytelling shows in downtown Jonesborough at 7 p.m. every Tuesday night at the International Storytelling Center’s Mary Martin Storytelling Theatre.   Proceeds from this year’s Tellabration will go to benefit The Storytelling Resource Place located in the old Slemmons house in Jonesborough’s Mill Spring Park.  Dr. Pamela Miller will be on hand at the event to answer questions and provide information on this new storytelling resource venture.

For more information you should contact David Joe Miller at davidjoetells@yahoo.com.

Honoring a legacy: Town celebrates Ernest McKinney on day to remember

Dr. Ernest McKinney is remembered on this special day for the town of Jonesborough — as an educator, an alderman and a husband and father.


Staff Writer


No matter where you look around Jonesborough, the legacy of Dr. Ernest McKinney has left a mark, not only in the town projects he helped to build, but also in the people he influenced.

On Wednesday, April 4, the Town of Jonesborough will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of McKinney’s initial election to the town board, proclaiming Wednesday to be “I Remember Ernest McKinney Day” to honor the man who has meant so much to Jonesborough.

“The purpose of it was just to take a moment and stop and say, ‘We remember Ernest, this was somebody important in Jonesborough, not only as a leader, but also as a person.’ He was an outstanding person,” Jonesborough Town Administrator Bob Browning said.

According to information supplied by the McKinney Center, which is named for the man himself, Ernest McKinney was born in Chesnee, South Carolina on Nov. 26, 1923 and moved with his family to Johnson City in 1936.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Agricultural & Industrial College in Nashville in 1947 and married his wife of 59 years, Marion, in 1950.

Ernest McKinney began his teaching career as a teacher and principal at Booker T. Washington School, now the McKinney Center for the Arts, and also taught at Langston High School and Science Hill High School, where he served as assistant principal.

McKinney also became the first African-American elected to the Board of

Mayor and Aldermen of the Town of Jonesborough on April 4, 1968, which was the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

“It was after Ernest was elected that we heard about it,” his wife, Marion,  said about that day. “It put a damper on everything. A lot of us cried. We were regretful. We all went home in our sorrow.”

Ernest McKinney, called ‘Fess’ – short for professor – by his students and his children, was reelected to the BMA in 1978 and was the first African-American elected to the Washington County School Board in 1980.

He eventually became the Chairman of the Board.

His wife said one of her husband’s passions was that he believed strongly in the value of education, not only with his students but his own children as well.

“He taught them how to use the tools, but they had to use them themselves.  He never answered their questions. He’d tell them where to go and get the answers.”

Marion McKinney also reminisced about the day they became engaged. She had known Ernest from her youth in Johnson City and was roommates with his sister at Swift while he taught there. “I fell in love with Ernest when we were at Swift.”

After Swift, Marion attended Tennessee State along with his sister and Ernest McKinney came to visit during homecoming.

“We were sitting in Hadley Park on the swing and he asked me to marry him,” she said.

McKinney influence, of course, went well beyond his family. 

“I’m a beneficiary, or a product of the example of Ernest McKinney,” Town Alderman Adam Dickson said. “We stand on (his) shoulders. So I’ve had a great deal of respect for Mr. McKinney. As I entered the political field, (the McKinneys) at various moments would have encouraging words and really tried to instill in you that ‘Yes you can. Don’t let anything or anybody stop you.’”

During his time on the BMA, Ernest McKinney provided leadership and helped many important projects that still resonate to this day, according to Browning.

He served in (former mayor) Jimmy Neil Smith’s administration,” Browning recalled. “And that board had a major impact on what’s going on in Jonesborough and Ernest was what I would consider a fierce leader in that time period in terms of looking at quality of life issues regardless of skin color or age or anything else.”

Former mayor Jimmy Neil Smith worked closely with McKinney and came to rely on his advice at times.

“When I had an issue that I thought I had a solution to I would always run it first by Ernest McKinney. And if you couldn’t convince him of the solution you don’t need to be proposing the solution,” Smith said.

“He was also honorable. You could always count on him to tell you the truth. Sometimes maybe you didn’t want to hear it but he’d tell the truth.”

Kelly Wolfe, who passed the proclamation as one of his final official acts as mayor, knew McKinney when Wolfe was a child and he said he recognized the impact this man had.

“He was somebody who was always positive, always encouraging and always pushing folks to do the best they could possibly do. I found him to be an inspiration,” Wolfe said.

While the Town of Jonesborough is asking residents and businesses to take the time to remember Ernest McKinney and to post “I Remember Ernest McKinney” on signs and social media, the McKinney Center is hosting a story gathering session Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone willing to share an Ernest McKinney story is encouraged to share.  Jules Corriere from the McKinney Center said, “We have digital recorders and these stories will become part of our archives.”

According to Corriere, “What happened when Ernest McKinney was elected is he began a legacy of African-American participation on the BMA since that time and since then there has been a person of color on the board ever since.”

Browning recently shared his own McKinney story, which “is sort of at my expense.”

He said when McKinney was on the BMA with Smith, they were in the process of trying to balance the town budget.

“I was the Community Development Coordinator for the town at that point and they were within $300 of balancing the budget and they were looking around trying to figure it out … I can remember standing behind Ernest and Jimmy … and they were talking and they sort of sit back and took a breath and looked around and Jimmy turned around and looked at me and Ernest turned around and looked at me.

“There’s this conversation going on and they cut my salary by $300 to balance the budget. The way they did it, just looking at me and the look on their faces, I found it hilarious. They had given me a raise, they just reduced it $300.”

Former mayor Wolfe may have summed up the general opinion of McKinney throughout Jonesborough, “Ernest was a jewel of a man.”

Jonesborough Middle to host STEAM night


Jonesborough Middle School will host its annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math night on Tuesday, March 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Community members and parents are invited to an evening of STEAM activities appropriate for all ages. Students will also have STEAM-driven artwork and Science Fair projects on display during this time.

Gala to celebrate 20 years of song

A fundraiser will be held of March 23 for the Music on the Square concert series.


Staff Writer


“Who knew 20 years ago that this is what it would become?”

It’s a question that Steve Cook, the semi-retired past owner of the Jonesborough Art Glass Gallery pondered recently.

As the organizer of Jonesborough’s Music on the Square, he is in a good position to know. On Friday, March 23, from 6 to 10 p.m., the McKinney Center will host a gala fundraiser for the spring and summer live music events. 

Cook said the gala will feature music from the Myrtle Beach-based band Sol Driven Train, heavy hors d’oeuvres from Noli Food Truck and drinks from either Tennessee Hills or Depot Street Brewery.  Anyone purchasing tickets to the event will also receive two drink tickets.

According to Cook, there will also be a live auction with offerings including a hot air balloon ride, a stay at the Historic Eureka Inn and a zip-line tour of Linville Gorge,  as well as numerous art pieces.

The proceeds from the event will support this year’s Music on the Square events, all of which are free and are held every Friday night from May through September.

While there are many similar events throughout the region, Cook believes the Jonesborough events are unique.

“(The event) is the most attentive audience that many bands ever play for,” Cook said. “They’re not drinking, not smoking, and you don’t have to play over the crowd. It really is a great family-oriented setting. 

“We wanted to bring some people to town after 5 p.m.” 

As organizer of one of the first live music events in the area, Cook has witnessed many changes over the 20 years the event has been held.

“What’s changed over 20 years is how many other places have music and the different venues, (and) every club has a stage,” Cook said. “I had a friend from Kingsport who said, ‘Yours is the best. We go to Kingsport for the party and we go to Jonesborough for the music.’  There are so many performers that are so good that you’ll never hear of because there are so many of them.  I always say I’ve got too many bands and not enough Fridays.”

During the concerts some of the downtown businesses keep their doors open, and while there are no food or beer trucks, Cook said the music is reason enough to be there.

“You’ll hear heartbreak, you’ll hear joy and stress, you’ll hear relaxing music. I’ve had performers from Australia, from the UK, from Africa. I’ve had Native American hoop dancers. Entertainment is the key word.”

The gala fundraiser will be the first event of the year and according to Cook, “It’s an opportunity for people to have a nice evening out and support a good cause.”

Tickets are available for $40 while a table for eight is $280.  Tickets are available at Jonesborough.com/tickets or call (423) 753-1010.

Chester Inn kicks off History Happy Hour

The Chester Inn on Main Street is ready for the 2018 season of History Happy Hour.


History Happy Hour is set to return with the launch of its 2018 schedule.

The first program this year features Dollie Boyd from Tusculum College and the Doak House Museum. Dollie will be speaking about 19th century optical illusion toys and their fascinating role in 1800s recreation. The program will be on Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m., and it will be held at the Chester Inn Museum in Jonesborough. It is free and open to the public.

History Happy Hour was launched by the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum last year as an effort to bring people together from different institutions and provide a space for the community to engage in free, history-driven discussions. The 2018 schedule is lined up and features a mix of subjects including biographies, regional and local history, and national events like World War II.

For more information on the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, History Happy Hour, or the Heritage Alliance, please call our office at 423.753.9580, or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580.  You can also contact the organization via email at info@heritageall.org.  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at http://www.heritageall.org/.

Artists to exhibit work at McKinney

Calvin Bennett and Fredda Roberts’ art will be featured at the McKinney Center from March 9 through April 20.


Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center is pleased to announce their first exhibition of the year featuring Calvin Bennett and Fredda Roberts.  The exhibition will be open and free to the public starting with the Opening Reception on Friday, March 9, 6 p.m.  It will run through April 20. You can view the exhibit at the McKinney Center Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Director of the McKinney Center, Theresa Hammons, states, “Calvin and Fredda both have natural elements in their work.  Calvin’s environmental subjects in his photographs are beautiful and endearing.  It is amazing how he captures the essence of the natural world through his camera lens and also in his framing.  Calvin uses acid free, archival, photography paper to print his images and also hand builds all his frames.  Calvin puts his whole being into a photograph.  It is truly inspiring.”

Calvin Bennett is an American photographer from Jonesborough TN, known for his nature photography in the Great Smokey Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway.Calvin worked as a professional crane technician and OSHA crane inspector for over 30 years.  Bennett later changed careers and focused on his life long passion of photography when he purchased his first camera from a pawn shop in the mid 70’s.

Bennett has achieved various awards for fine art photography at art fairs and shows for several years.  He is currently photographing the East coast lighthouses from Florida to Maine.  He is very hands-on in his studio where printing on archival photo paper, canvas, and matting are top of the line.

“Photography requires sacrifice,” Bennett says, “rolling out of bed a 3 o’clock in the morning to be on some mountain top before sunrise, or getting in late at night after a sunset, it’s just a part of the job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Fredda Roberts discovered the art of jewelry making in 2008 and states that, “it was as though a fog had lifted and I was able to clearly see a way of connecting and incorporating my passion for fiber arts and clay work with a lifelong interest in natural gems and antiques.”  As a young girl Roberts would go rock hunting her mother in the North Carolina mountains and learned to see the beauty hidden in the rough stones.  That skill has carried through to today when she sits at her work bench looking at a spool of wire, a broken dish or a lump of metal clay.  Roberts says, “I am blessed with creative optimism; the faith that I will discover what is to come.  I find myself drawn to objects with a past life whether it is a silver spoon, a river rock or a piece of scrap copper.  The need to reform them into something unique and wearable, something new and reborn is almost unstoppable.”

Roberts has explored a variety of styles and techniques; loving that there is not end to what she can learn.  Her work continues to evolve and she creates wearable works of art, each with a history of its own.  All of her pieces are created with joy and enthusiasm in her home studio in Jonesborough.  Although on a pretty day she is more likely found under a shade tree weaving and hammering while watching her children play.

For more information, email Theresa Hammons at theresah@jonesborougtn.org or call (423) 753-0562.

Jonesborough plans blow-out St. Patrick’s Day weekend fun

The Jonesborough Historic Courthouse will be glowing green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day throughout the holiday event on March 16 and 17.


Come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Jonesborough style Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17, in Tennessee’s Oldest Town. Participant’s will get the chance to join in on the weekend-long fun with a scavenger hunt, fun run, leprechaun search, live music, brews and more.

Main Street will be full of green and roaming “leprechauns” throughout the event celebration.

Participate in the Jonesborough Gold Hunt, a mobile-friendly QR code scavenger hunt, taking place throughout downtown all weekend long. The hunt will include almost 20 locations incorporating Jonesborough’s unique history and architecture. You can find more information about the hunt and get started at jbohunt.com.

While exploring downtown Jonesborough, keep your eyes peeled for Paddy the Leprechaun. Clues on where to find Paddy will be announced on Main Street Jonesborough’s Instagram page. When you find Paddy, he may have a special treat to share with you and be sure to get your picture made with him and hashtag #OnlyInJonesborough #FindPaddy to be entered to win a giveaway each day.

Friday evening, Jonesborough will host Paddy’s Dash: Brew Fun Run starting at 7 p.m. at the Storytelling Center. The 2-mile walk/jog/run will loop through town with an option to stop by Depot Street Brewery for a free 5 oz. beer and end back at the Storytelling Plaza with a Beer Garden. After the run, stick around for the Lighting of the Clocktower as it shines green for the weekend!

Then on Saturday, join us for Shamrockin’ on the Plaza in front of the Storytelling Center from 4-7 p.m. Enjoy Celtic music, beers from Depot Street Brewery and a special menu of Irish foods from Boone Street Market. The Historic Jonesborough Dance Society will also offer a Saint Patrick’s Day Contra Dance from 7:30-10:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children and students or $15 for families.

Downtown merchants will be offering promotions and special menu items throughout the weekend in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Also enjoy St. Paddy’s inspired arts with the McKinney Center at the corner of Fox Street on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.

For more information, go to Main Street Jonesborough’s Facebook page or call (423) 753-1010.

Dr. Seuss celebration slated

The Jonesborough Library will hold a Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Celebration on Friday, March 2, between 10 a.m. and and

noon at the library. The event will feature a special storytime,

lots of activities, a photo booth, crafts, and prizes.

Snacks and drinks will be provided. This program is free

and open to the public. For more information, call the Jonesborough

Library at 753-1800.

Library plans Teen Tech Week

The Jonesborough Library will once again host a “Teen

Tech Week” scavenger hunt competition during the first

Saturdays in March.

Teens from across Tennessee will compete to complete

items from a list by taking pictures, making videos or creating

web-linked items. Everyone in grades 6-12 is welcome,

no matter your tech experience! Events will include:

• March 3 at the Jonesborough Library, 3-4:30 pm: We’ll

meet to read through the list, choose a team name, and get

started working!

• March 10 at the Jonesborough Library, 3-4:30 pm:

We’ll meet to wrap up our work. All items must be submitted

by March 11.

This program is sponsored by Friends of the Washington

County Library

Genealogy Day set for February

The Jonesborough Genealogical Society will host its February

Genealogy Day on Saturday, Feb. 24 beginning at 9:30


This Genealogy Day will be a research day in the Washington

County-Jonesborough Library’s Genealogy and History

Center. Members and community members are welcome to

come conduct research, work on society projects, or seek

help on your own genealogy.

‘The Foreigner’ comes to JRT

Jonesborough’s Repertory Theatre will premiere The Foreigner on March 2.


The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is ready to announce its upcoming production, the hilarious show The Foreigner.

The show will run March 2 through 11 at the theatre located at 125½ West Main Street in Jonesborough.

In the show, a fishing lodge in rural Georgia is often visited by Froggy LeSeuer (Kyle Mason), a British demolition expert who occasionally runs training sessions at a nearby army base. This time Froggy has brought along a friend, a pathologically shy young man named Charlie (Lucas Schmidt) who is overcome with fear at the thought of making conversation with strangers.

In order to encourage people not to talk with Charlie, Froggy tells all assembled that Charlie is from an exotic foreign country and speaks no English.

After Froggy leaves, the fun really begins as Charlie overhears more than he should. What he does in response fuels nonstop hilarity and sets up the wildly funny climax.

This comedy, written by Larry Shue, is directed by Janette Gaines and assisted by Tara White. The production is sponsored by Lynda Wexler and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., and Thursday the March 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.

Yarn Exchange brings ‘Affrilachia’

The Yarn Exchange will feature the stories of folks like Stage Coach Mary at the “Affrilachia-themed show.


Jonesborough’s long running original story-based radio show, A Night with the Yarn Exchange performs at the International Storytelling Center on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. The Yarn Exchange is back this month with an episode dedicated to Black History month and stories of “Affrilachia”.

Frank X. Walker coined the term “Affrilachia” to describe the unique contributions of African Americans who have contributed to developing the culture of the Appalachian region, and how those contributions have helped shape the entire country.

Stories from Jonesborough’s own community members will be featured in the program, as well as other prominent Tennesseans, to include Mary Fields, the first African American woman who became a postmaster on a U.S. Postal Star Route in the old West. She was also known as Stage Coach Mary, as she delivered the mail in her wagon pulled by a mule, and carried a rifle- and knew how to use it– to ward off robbers, who were notorious for stealing U.S. mail during this time. Musical guests will be the popular singing group from Bethel Church, “We Five”.

The program will perform live at the International Storytelling Center on February 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets to the live performance are only $5 or grab a season pass for $55, these can be purchased by calling 423-753-1010 or you can visit Jonesborough.com/tickets.

McKinney Center plans ‘Masterpiece Mingle’ in March

The McKinney Center fundraiser will feature art from local artists such as Pat Sheets’ montage of paintings.


Staff Writer


The McKinney Center is offering folks the chance to take home a work of art by a local artist – all for the price of providing a young student a unique learning experience. 

“Masterpiece Mingle” is the upcoming art fundraiser that will be held at the McKinney Center in downtown Jonesborough on Friday, March 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. In addition to local art, the event will feature an evening of live music, barbeque and cocktails.

McKinney Center director Theresa Hammons said the fundraising goal of the Center this year was $6,000, which would sponsor 50 scholarships opportunities for the myriad of classes the center offers. 

According to a press release for the event, the center has raised 40 percent of the goal and hope this event helps to reach the target. 

“Masterpiece Mingle is going to be a fun evening,” she said. “This is the way we are trying to raise money for that scholarship.”

The event will be catered by Maple Street Biscuit Company and The Catering Company with a cash bar by Tennessee Hills Distillery.  On the menu are barbecue sliders, sweet biscuits, sweet and sour meatballs, spinach artichoke dip and more.

Live music from vintage folk rock singer and songwriter Scott Wild and the Sulphur Springs String Dippers, a fiddle and guitar based band inspired by Southern Appalachia, will provide the soundtrack for the evening. 

Hammons said the Mingle would highlight local artists and the work they produce.  As ticket holders enter the event, they will receive a number, which will allow them to take home the artwork labeled with the corresponding number.  Hammons said there is also an option to trade that piece for another in the gallery.

Among the items donated are wooden spoons made by Curtis Buchanan, who “sells chairs to Monticello” and “has collectors all over the world” according to Hammons.  Other items included are mosaics, paintings, masks and more.

The proceeds from the “Masterpiece Mingle,” she said, would give children from low-income families an opportunity to take classes at the center. 

“First of all, our classes are affordable,” Hammons added, “Second of all, the scholarship makes it accessible for people who just can’t afford it.” 

She said the average income for a family with children in the McKinney scholarship program is $19,450 while the US poverty level is $24,600. 

“Those numbers say a lot; the McKinney Center scholarship families are $5,000 below the US average.  This demonstrates a need for kids to be involved in the arts.”

All materials and expenses are covered by the scholarships.

Hammons said that the arts program helps children acquire integral life skills and learn lessons that will help them develop.

“They’re working in teams, they’re socializing, they are in a class with kids from all different nationalities and faiths and socio-economic backgrounds.  So they’re learning to get along with lots of other people.”

“When (they) take music they’re learning rhythm,” she said. “They’re learning how to count, there are lots of skills they’re learning in these classes that they are going to be able to take with them into the future.”  

“Buying a ticket to the (Masterpiece) Mingle,” Hammons said, “helps all of our kids.”

Tickets for the “Masterpiece Mingle” cost $25 before March 2 and $35 after March 3.  They are available for purchase at www.jonesborough.com/tickets.  Information is available by calling 423-753-1010.

Second time around the tracks: ’I Am Home’ cast prepares for return

The “I Am Home” cast and crew gathered together for rehearsals before the show debut on Feb. 23.


Staff Writer


Most plays consist of a group of people together on a stage. But for those gearing up for “I Am Home,” it’s all about the community coming together to share the stories and history of Tennessee’s oldest town.

“I Am Home”, which is set to run on Feb. 23, 24, 25 and March 2, 3, 4, is made up of stories that take place throughout Jonesborough’s history. The stories were gathered throughout a year-long process and thus created a play that was designed to take the audience through multiple time periods and stories that helped shape Jonesborough.

But for playwright and McKinney Center Director of Outreach Programming Jules Corriere, “I Am Home” is also about that true sense of community.

Play Director Jules Corriere gives the cast direction during a rehearsal for the play.

“I’ve been writing plays like this for 20 years in communities around the country and what I see happen every time is a community sheds light on its stories — not just the easy ones, but the difficult ones,” Corriere said. “In rehearsing those difficult moments on the stage, we learn to bring that rehearsing out into the community and put it into practice so that we are better and stronger with each other.

“We become stronger neighbors because we are growing and understanding of each other’s stories.”

The play also aims to honor the stories of Jonesborough’s past leaders in the community; for many cast members, it’s that rich history that brought so many to the stage in the McKinney Center for the “I Am Home” community production.

Among these historical characters is local historic icon, Alfred Greenlee. Greenlee was an integral part of Jonesborough’s integration and he even attended the African American school which used to be in the McKinney Center building on Franklin Avenue in Jonesborough from 1940 to 1965.

Ken Bonner, who plays the role of Greenlee, said he felt the importance of the part in joining the cast as the Jonesborough historical figure — but that only gave him more motivation.

Ken Bonner will play Alfred Greenlee in the community production of Jonesborough historical stories.

“When I read about this one in the paper, I just kinda told myself I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and come down here and try out for a role — I didn’t know it would be Alfred Greenlee,” Bonner said, laughing. “As I learned more about him, his character and history in Jonesborough, I just made a commitment to myself to bring that character to life. Then as I got into it and started realizing the importance of his role, it became a little bit bigger.

“I’m really excited about it — especially to be playing an event that actually took place here.”

But Greenlee isn’t the only one with history dating back to the McKinney Center building and other sites in Jonesborough such as the Jackson Theatre; Donna Olujani was involved with a community play seven years ago with her son and daughter. Now back in this year’s production, she doesn’t just attribute the play for the history lesson it offered her and her kids — it also allowed her father to open up about his past during the segregation era.

“My dad actually grew up here, so when he would go to the Jackson Theatre, he had to go up to the balcony — I had never even heard that story from him before,” Olujani said. “So it allowed us to go back and listen to even more history from my dad where he hadn’t shared some of that. When he came to the play, it just made it to where he would talk about things more. There were a lot of things going on in that time that he just didn’t share or talk about because it was less painful not to talk about it.

“This play brought it out and showed us how important it is for him to do that with his grandkids and for them to get a better understanding.”

Among her other roles in the play, Olujani will play a mother in the Jackson Theatre, where her father once stood in the balcony. And it’s this sort of real history that she hopes others will take away from the local production.

Cast member Donna Olujani watches other members of the “I Am Home” play during her break on set.

“A lot of times, I feel like Jonesborough kind of gets lost. We’re the same county as Johnson City, but we get lost. Since I’m from here, I wanted to be proud of Jonesborough. I wanted my kids to be proud of Jonesborough and to be proud of where they’re from.

“I think (the play) is kind of where I think the communication kind of got lost as far as the history. That’s what’s important, that people know this history.”

Whether it’s to honor a local historical figure or to share the history that took place in the same building in which the play will be performed, the community, past and present, are the centerpiece of the show for cast, crew and directors alike.

“What I want the community to take away when they see this play is just the power of its people, the perseverance and tenacity of its own people, what they have lived through, what they continue to live through and what they have continued to grow into whatever was coming next,” Corriere said. “They’re innovators, they’re creative and they didn’t let the world pass them by. They built the world and made it happen as the world was growing.”

I Am Home will be featured on Feb. 23, 24, 25 and March 2, 3, 4 with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $14 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students and are available by phone at (423)753-1010 or online at www.jonesborough.com/tickets.

Kindergarten Registration Dates


The Washington County Department of Education will register children who will enter kindergarten in a Washington County school this Fall. These schools include Boones Creek Elementary, Fall Branch, Grandview, Gray, Jonesborough Elementary, Lamar, Ridgeview, South Central, Sulphur Springs and West View. Parents may register their child at the elementary school nearest them on Thursday, Feb.15 or Thursday, March 8 between 3 and 6 p.m. At that time, you will make an appointment to return to that school with your child in the Spring for an educational screening.

The child must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 15, 2018, and you should bring any or all of the following information that you currently have: child’s official birth certificate, Social Security card, Tennessee Immunization Certificate/physical form, and proof of residence address. For more information, call the school or (423) 434-4923 or email teachercenter@wcde.org.

‘Souper’ Bowl Math Night rescheduled for Feb. 1


Fall Branch School’s “Souper Bowl Math Night,” originally set for Tuesday, Jan. 30, has been rescheduled to Thursday, Feb. 1.

The event will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. at the school.

Students will have the opportunity to visit classrooms to learn various math games and strategies.

These activities include: Ten Frame Touch Downs, Defensive Dice, Angles to Tackle, Gridiron Geometry, Concession Stand Conundrum and many, many more. 

All students who attend will get to take a math manipulative bag and other goodies home.

They will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a tablet.

The evening will conclude with students and their families enjoying a soup dinner together.