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Three-day festival ends with spectacular show

Jonesborough’s festival culminated in fireworks downtown. (photo by Cameo Waters)


H&T Correspondent

Hundreds turn out to celebrate the 49th Annual of Jonesborough Days on Saturday, July 6.

The festival began July 4 and ended Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. Each day had a main event.

Thursday’s big event was the was the Fourth of July parade that began at 10 a.m., Friday’s was a low country boil at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday’s was a firework display at 10 p.m.

The parade is a part of the annual festival that is a highly anticipated event by attendees. It traveled down the middle of Main Street and had 60 different floats.

According to Melinda Copp, Jonesborough’s events coordinator and owner of Makers Market, the event had a great turn out. She said that the low country shrimp boil also went well.

“We sold over 250 tickets to the boil,” Copp said.

The shrimp boil took place at the International Storytelling Center, and attendees enjoyed entertainment by the Ozone Rangers as they ate. 

Copp said they were hoping for an equally great turn out for Saturday’s events, but they had a slow start due to rain that morning.   

The rain stopped around 11:30 a.m. and people began arriving in larger and larger groups. 

On Saturday, there were more than 80 craftsmen booths set up on both sides of main street. The first booths were the “I Made It Market” where items were made and sold by young artists and were open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The first booth belonged to Josh and Christopher Tomko. Josh sold coasters and other items that he painted. Christopher built things like magazine racks, towel bars and birdhouses from pallet wood.

The Tomkos are originally from Jonesborough but now live in West Jefferson North Carolina. They came back for a visit and to participate in the festival. Though they no longer live in Jonesborough, they said that the town is still very important to them.

Christopher said that when he was thinking of what to make for the festival, the idea to make things out of pallet wood just came to him.

“It’s great because the material is inexpensive and since it’s wood it’s recyclable,” Christopher said.

Josh said that doing the booth was really fun and that the thing he hoped for most was that people enjoyed his art.

“It’s a great way for the kids to make crafts and helps them learn about business and how it works,” said Allison Tomko, Josh and Christopher’s mother.

The booth directly beside the Tomkos belonged to Ella and Lily Thompson. The name of their booth was Sister’s Soap and Scripture.

The idea to sell homemade soaps came from Ella. She also thought of putting a slip of paper with a Bible verse on it in the bag with the soap.

Each bar of soap was in a different shape and scent. There was rose, orange, vanilla, and peppermint sold for a dollar each.

They also had homemade jewelry for sale.

“It helps kids learn about business in a fun way,” Ella said.

Ella and Lily’s father, Ben Thompson, said that he was really proud of his daughters’ accomplishments.

“They always want to make people smile,” said Thompson. “They are truly a light to the world, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Two booths down from the sisters was John Chapman, a young artist whose work has been published eight times on the celebrity art website. His work was also on display at the General Morgan Inn in Greeneville in July of last year.

John was a little shy, but clearly proud of the unique cards, bookmarks, and other items that he hand painted.

“We were on a trip to Nashville when we saw a boy John’s age at a booth selling his art, and he thought it would be fun to sell his work too,” said John’s father.

In front of the “I Made It Market” on the corner of East Main Street and Fox Street there was a children’s train. It ran from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Children could ride the train for free. It went down the middle of town, to the end of Main Street and back.

Tory Street, who is from Jonesborough, brought her two children to the festival.

Street has been attending Jonesborough Days for the last 15 to 20 years and does her best to attend at least one day of the festival each year.

“It’s so much fun. It’s great for the town because it brings people in and they will like what they experience and come back,” said Street.

Her 5-year-old Daughter Sawyer and 2-year-old son Bo were yelling with excitement while riding the train and impatiently waited in line to be able to ride again. 

“The train ride was the thing the kids anticipated the most,” Street said.

Street said that going to Jonesborough Days is a family tradition especially the parade that took place Thursday.

Street was also interested in seeing what the vendors had to offer.

The vendors sold a variety of items. Some sold homemade jewelry, decorations, and other items that can be used around the house. There was even a booth set up where people could get a caricature done.

Paws in Blue, who had a fundraiser on June 15, had a booth and gave out pamphlets and cards detailing what their origination is and does. Loki and his handler Dustin Fleming, from the Jonesborough Police Department, were there to greet people.

Jonesborough Presbyterian Church had a booth set up to the side of the church selling jewelry donated by the congregation. There was more being sold inside the church.

The booth was maned by Kathy Scheu, Ida Shurr, and Shurr’s granddaughter, Sydney Sheehan.

Sheehan was visiting from Colorado. She loved being apart of the churches annual fundraiser and seeing all the people.

Both Shurr and Scheu said that Sheehan was their best salesman and that people just loved talking to her.

“Jonesborough Days is the ideal time to hold the fundraiser because so many people come out to be a part of the fun,” said Scheu.

The money raised by the fundraiser goes to several local charities.

“We raised $1,000 last year and hope to get the same, but if we don’t reach our goal, we are still grateful for whatever we’re blessed with,” said Shurr.

The shop owners in Downtown Jonesborough also got involved in the festivities by having sales.

Marty Glasgow who owns Noelle in downtown was one of them.

She had marked down several of her spring and summer items.

“Jonesborough Days is always great,” said Glasgow.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people come to town and all the things that the craftsmen sale.”

As the day progressed, more people could be seen walking down Main Street and crowding vender booths.

Dan and Becky Reece, along with their granddaughter Daisy, were visiting family. They heard about the festival and thought it would be fun to attend.

“We live in Raleigh, North Carolina, but we’re originally from Jonesborough,” said Dan. “We went to Jonesborough Days years ago and enjoyed it.”

Other visitors had the same idea to come out and see what the festival had to offer, but staid for the food.

Jessica and Adam Byrd from Unicoi wanted to walk around, see what vendors were selling, listen to the music, and to enjoy the fries at the food stands set up along side one of the side streets along Main Street.

Aside from the multiple food options, from Philly cheese steak, Polish sausage, blooming onion, and crazy fries, visitors had the opportunity to enjoy some Moon Pies by participating in the Moon Pie Eating Contest.

The contest was set up in front of the courthouse and started at 2 p.m. Sign ups began at 1:30 pm. The contest had eight participants for three categories.

The first category was for those eight and younger, the second was for nine to fifteen, and the last for sixteen and up.

The winner of the contest was decided by who could eat and keep down the most Moon Pies within three minutes and was given a free t-shirt and a year’s worth of Moon Pies.

Throughout the day people could sit and enjoy live music performance in front of the Internal Story Center. Such as Harlen Country Grass, Blue Railroad, Teller in Residence

In ISC, Bluebirds and Larry and Gayleen Kelley.

One of the main music events of the day began at 5:30 p.m. with a mixed tape ‘80s party lead by DJ Robbie Britton. Those that had on the best 80s ensemble was picked from the crowd and won the costume contest.

The main music event for Saturday began at 7:30. It was a live performance by the Breakfast Club, the top ‘80s tribute band in the country.

According to Copp they have been providing live ‘80s pop since 1993 and are most recognized ‘80s tribute band in the US.

There were several other events for visitors to enjoy throughout the day. Such as the Beer Garden where people could enjoy locally brewed beer, tour of the Chester Inn and photo taken in historical fashion, town tour, and the presentation of Mamma Mia! by the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre.

The morning rain shower caused some of the days events to be cancel, such as the Old Jonesborough Cemetery Tour. It was canceled because mud made the tour a little too perilous.

The children’s events, which were set up at Discovery Park behind the Storytelling Center, were also affected by the rain.

The McKinney Center, who came up with the idea of the “I Made it Market,” had a kids crafts and hands-on-learning booth set up.

The Heritage Alliance had a version of an early 1900s classroom set up with quill pen writing lessons from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They also had several toys from that era that that allow children to play with.

According to Joe Spiker, head docent of the Chester Inn Museum, who was helping with the school and demonstrating how the toys worked said that there had not been a lot of children come through due to rain, but that he expected more to show up as the day progressed.

The American Heritage Girls/ Trail Life USA had a booth set up beside McKinney Center. Pamphlets and cards were available for the boys or girls who would like to become a part of the Christian based organization. 

The day’s events ended with a spectacular fireworks display set off in the Washington County Library’s parking lot.