Alliance to offer spring homeschool options

Homeschool kids will get a chance to ‘step back in time.’


The Heritage Alliance is excited to offer two days for homeschool students this spring. On Wednesday, April 10, the Alliance will host its third Homeschool Day. History-and heritage-based activities are planned from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. that day and will offer a wide variety of experiences for multiple ages.

Students from first grade through senior year of high school are encouraged to come and experience history with their families in Tennessee’s Oldest Town.

Activities include Town Tours, an Old Jonesborough Cemetery Tour, and hands-on activities with artifacts in the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum. In addition, students can explore primary sources at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, learn all about the railroad at the Chuckey Depot Museum, and listen to a Storyteller. Oak Hill School will be open for mini-lessons on Homeschool Day, but students will have a chance to participate in a full day at Oak Hill School on Friday, May 10.   

Oak Hill School was built in 1886 to serve the community of Knob Creek. The building served local residents until it was closed in the 1950s. The school building was moved the seven miles from Knob Creek to Jonesborough and placed in its current location behind the Visitors Center. Today, Oak Hill School invites students to come for a day-long field trip and enroll in school in 1893. Reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography – even the pledge of allegiance – are all as they were prior to the turn of the last century. 

School will last from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 10. This program is limited to 26 students, grades first through twelfth graders.

Registration is now open for Homeschool Day (April 10) and the day at Oak Hill School (May 10) at The cost is $7 per student for Homeschool Day and $5 per student for the day at Oak Hill School. Students must register for both days in advance. We cannot accept registration the day of the event.

The Heritage Alliance is dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region and to providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences.  For more information, please call our office at (423)753-9580, or contact the organization via email at Additional information can also be found online at

Matilda: JRT to bring childhood classic to stage

Millie Williams plays Matilda in the musical, a child with strong feelings of right and wrong.


The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is excited to bring you the regional premiere of “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical.” Based on the book “Matilda” by Dahl, this much anticipated show runs March 28 through April 14. Come meet a brave and compassionate girl who faces difficult trials but handles each with a dose of courage, a touch of cleverness, and a lot of heart.

Matilda is a bright, sweet, witty child who has every reason to hate a world that has treated her so cruelly. Her parents are horrendous and her school’s principal even worse. Yet she chooses not to view the world as an ugly place, but one of beauty. She sees people in the best light she possibly can, which, given her circumstances, isn’t an easy thing to do.

The story begins with Matilda being born to parents who do not want her. They already have a son and think their family complete. They don’t want to change anything from their normal. And Matilda’s normal is very different than they know how to deal with.

“Matilda is too smart for them,” said Shawn Hale, who plays Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father. “They don’t know how to take care of her, so they lash out. When you lash out, you tend to be mean.”

Shawn Hale and Lorrie Anderson as the Wormwoods, the not-always-kind parents of courageous Matilda.

Lorrie Anderson, who plays Mrs. Wormwood, agreed. “She’s terrible,” she said of her character. “I’m so used to playing characters that are quite similar to me, but this character is so completely different. She’s crass, rude, and materialistic. And I’m not.”

However, somehow, Matilda turns out to be the opposite of her parents. She follows a different set of rules . . . or rather, one rule.

“I think the message of the show is to follow the Golden Rule,” said Millie Williams, who plays Matilda. “To treat others how you want to be treated. To be nice to each other because it’s a good thing to do.”

In spite of being mistreated and unloved, Matilda rises above that and becomes the hero of many.

“Because of the environment Matilda grew up in,” stated Kylie Green, who plays Matilda’s kind teacher, Miss Honey, “she has a very keen moral compass, and so she is always very sensitive to injustices. She has strong feelings about what’s right and what’s wrong. So she’s a champion of the underdog.”

Though it’s true that Matilda is a type of hero and helps others who are treated poorly, she also encourages them to fend for themselves. She believes strongly in standing up for oneself.

“Matilda does set about correcting all the wrongs that are around her,” said Lucas Schmidt, who plays the evil Miss Trunchbull, who traditionally is played by a man. “Yet, in one of her songs, she sings about how people are victims of fate. But also how they could have seized control and done something about it. She feels that though life may not seem fair, it’s up to you to do something about it.”

Though this show has strong themes and messages, it’s done in such an entertaining, funny, and lighthearted way, people will leave feeling very satisfied.

“It is really a heartwarming and touching story,” said the choreographer, Heather Allen, who also is in the ensemble. “The music is so fantastic and contemporary; very different than what we usually do here. We hope it will pull in another generation of kids who love the theatre.””

“Matilda The Musical” is written by Dennis Kelly with original songs by Tim Minchin. This show is directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt and choreographed by Heather Allen. The sponsors are Monkee’s of Johnson City, Home Trust Bank, Wolfe Development, Ignacy Fonberg, Denny Dentistry, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Rounding out the cast are Vanessa Bushell, Chris Carroll, Abigail Chapman, Rachel Chapman, Stephen Cradic, Hollyn Dixon, Liz Dollar, Will Dollar, Mia Freemon, Ryan Gray, Joseph Gumina, Charles Landry, Kyle Mason, Tiffany Matthews, Tristan Matthews, Abby Raper, Rheagan Shelton, Sharon Squibb, and Elliott Tucker.

Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to

Sacred Harmony coming to Cherokee Baptist

Cherokee Baptist Church will host a musical group, Sacred Harmony, on Sunday, March 17, during the 11 a.m. service. Sacred Harmony is comprised of Theresa Bellamy, Brian Scott and Janet Weaver. Cherokee Baptist is located at 143 Mayberry Road, Jonesborough

Fish Fry coming to Limestone Ruritan

The Limestone Ruritan will host its monthly Fish Fry on Friday, March 15, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Limestone Ruritan Building. In addition to fish, chicken and shrimp are also served and includes french fries, coleslaw and hush puppies. Carryout is available. Cost is $12 per person.

Country breakfast back at Sulphur Springs Baptist Church

Sulphur Springs Baptist Church will host a country breakfast on Saturday,March 9, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. The menu will include fresh country sausage, bacon, homemade biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, hash browns, pancakes, pastry, coffee and orange juice. This is an all-you-can-eat buffet. Cost is by donation.

Steak dinner and music coming to Fairview UMC

Fairview United Methodist Church will host a steak dinner and musicfundraiser on Saturday, March 9 from5 to 7 p.m. Join FUMC in fellowship with music by Sunnyside Gospel Quartet at the Saturday evening dining experience. Eat in or take-out. There will be no pre-orders. Cost is $8 for an adult meal and $3 for a kid’s meal. FUMC is located five miles from downtown Jonesborough going towards Fall Branch at 878 Highway 81 North. The food will be prepared and served by the Fairview Methodist Men’s Group to support their Mis- sions and Outreach programs.

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 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

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

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 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  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at

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 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

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