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Best of the best: Jonesborough area attractions offer options for all

There is always something going on in Jonesborough.

By ALLEN RAU

Staff Writer

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Whether you’re a lifelong resident of Jonesborough, a new member of our town or a potential future resident, the list of attractions is long and varied.  Living in Tennessee’s oldest town allows residents the opportunity to walk down Main Street and gaze at the historical buildings and some of the unique shops and businesses contained within. The numerous parks allow citizens access to the fresh air and trails to wander down if they wish. And the festivals held provide plenty of live music and all the storytelling they can handle. These are just a few of the highlights contained in our home, Jonesborough.

• International Storytelling Center:  The centerpiece for the Storytelling Capital of the World.  The Center brings storytellers here from across the globe during the weekend-long National Storytelling Festival that begins on the first weekend in October. Along with a modern performance theater is Jimmy Neil Smith Park behind the Center as well as a gift shop where fans can find storytelling books, souvenirs and all other items. Rooms at the Center are available for rent for weddings, business meetings and receptions.

The Storytelling Center also hosts “Storytelling Live!”, a Teller-in-Residence series from May to November. “Storytelling Live!” features 26 nationally renowned storytellers, one per week, at the Center’s theater.

The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange is a monthly radio-broadcast performance hosted at the Center that celebrates the culture, history and stories of the area. The Yarn Exchange is open to anyone who would like to participate and all ages and backgrounds are welcome. Broadcast on 89.5 FM.

The International Storytelling Center may be reached at 423-753-2171.

• Heritage Alliance/Museums/Tours: The Alliance preserves some of the historical and cultural treasures in our region and operates The Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum. The museum details the history of Jonesborough from its roots to present day and offers children’s activities and exhibits featuring photos of historic Jonesborough. The Chester Inn has been painstakingly restored to Victorian era décor and is available for tours. Located in downtown Jonesborough, the museum is on the ground floor while the Inn is upstairs. Departing from the Chester Inn on a regular schedule are walking Town Tours and Cemetery Tours.  Costumed guides lead tour-goers through downtown and detail the history of Jonesborough and Jonesborough’s historic cemeteries. Contact info for The Heritage Alliance is 423-753-9580.

• Festivals/Special Events: Downtown Jonesborough is host to a number of events that draw in the crowds. Chocolate Fest is held around Valentine’s each year and features homemade chocolate treats for your special someone along with sweets-related contests and activities. Scoop Fest will be held on Aug. 11 this year and will feature over 30 flavors of Blue Bell ice cream to help cool off in the summer heat. Jonesborough Days puts a local spin on July 4 with a parade, fireworks, local vendors, music and all sorts of activities for all ages. Held on the weekend closest to July 4, this patriotic weekend brings out the best of Jonesborough. A more regular occurrence downtown is the Main Street Brews and Tunes shows held on the plaza at the International Storytelling Center. Shows every Sunday during summer highlight craft brews and local tunes. Another musical event held every Friday throughout summer is Music on the Square. Main Street is turned over to music fans while an eclectic range of bands plays in Courthouse Square. MOTS runs from May through September and guests should bring a chair with them. Information on the above events can be found at the Main Street Jonesborough Facebook page or at 423-753-1010.

• Jonesborough Repertory Theater: Anyone interested in the arts should make time to take in a play at the JRT.  The Theater offers a year-round schedule of comedies, dramas, musicals and dance numbers that will entertain all theater buffs. Call the Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 for information and tickets.

• Jonesborough Farmers Market: Located on the east side of the courthouse every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. from May to September and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in October. Supplying freshly-grown local veggies, bakery items, meats and cheeses, the farmers market also features live music on Saturdays. Breakfast is also available as well as gardening crafts for purchase. Information available at 423-458-2122.

• Wetlands Water Park: If the summer heat starts to get too intense, a trip to Wetlands is certain to provide relief. Offering rides such as a lazy river, water slides, a rain tree and more, this water park will keep the kids happy. A full service café can replenish any lost energy and offers tubes and lockers for rent. Information available at 423-753-1553.

While we have highlighted some of the attractions the Jonesborough area can offer, there is so much more to be discovered. The Jonesborough Visitors Center can provide all the information anyone could need and may be reached at 423-753-1010.

As amazing as the area attractions are for both residents and visitors, the most important and amazing feature around is the people of Jonesborough.