JAMSA to host Jonesborough’s Seventh Annual Chocolate Fest

Jonesborough Area Merchants & Service Association (JAMSA) will host the seventh Annual Chocolate Fest as a three-day festival on Friday, February 11 through Sunday, February 13.

Take a stroll through Downtown Jonesborough and pickup delicious chocolate treats in celebration of Jonesborough’s Chocolate Fest. There will be chocolate stops dotted throughout downtown provided by Jonesborough small businesses, each serving something unique and special but of course, chocolate-themed. Attendees will discover endless options— everything from barks, fudges, chocolate-covered strawberries and so much more. One ticket equals one chocolate treat. At check-in attendees will receive a bag to carry chocolates in, chocolate tasting tickets, and a list of chocolate stops. Throughout the three-day festival attendees can also enjoy a variety of activities and entertainment.

For the second year, Chocolate Fest will be a three-day event with multiple times available and a limited number of tickets sold. The days and times are as follows; Friday, February 11, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, February 12, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, February 13, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. All chocolates are individually packaged.

For the first time, JAMSA will offer a special ticket for patrons over 21 called Chocolate After Dark on Friday, February 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to purchase this ticket in addition and will have access to 10+ beverage tasting stops in participating downtown businesses.

JAMSA is operated by volunteers, consisting of local business owners and community members. As an organization, they focus on promoting and serving local merchants as well as the growth of Jonesborough as a whole. Chocolate Fest is one of the ways JAMSA works to support locally owned businesses. The funds raised from Chocolate Fest go directly back to Jonesborough small businesses and the community.

Tickets will be sold in packs of 10 for $15 and need to be purchased in advance. Early ticket pick-up will begin Monday, February 7 through Thursday, February 10. All check-in and pick up will take place at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center located on Boone Street.

Visit JBOChocolateFest.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

StoryTown Radio Show returns for 2022 season

The StoryTown Radio Show returns to the stage on Monday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at the McKinney Center, followed by an opening season Gala featuring music and treats from Sweet E’s Bakery and Side Hustle Custom Bakery.

The one-hour storytelling show with music is formatted like an old-time radio broadcast, filled with true regional stories that connect audiences to their place, performed by a homegrown cast of characters, all who call East Tennessee home. The live program features music guests from across the Appalachians, from Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and North and South Carolina.

The 2022 season is filled with great music acts, including January’s opening act of Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner, famed blues duo from Buffalo, South Carolina specializing in Piedmont Blues. Vanderford was inducted into the South Carolina Folk Life Hall of Fame for his mastery of the blues harp and harmonica.

Other musical guests lined up for 2022 include Momma Molasses, Adam Bolt, Ubunibi-Afia Short, Aaron Jackson, Virginia West and the Jonesborough Novelty Band among others.

The January 24 show is also the season opener, and immediately following the production, audiences can enjoy complimentary sweet treats by Jonesborough’s local bakeries, Sweet E’s and Side Hustle Custom Bakeries, and have an opportunity to talk with the cast and musicians.

Tickets for this live performance are $10 and available online at Jonesborough.com/tickets or by calling the Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010. Season Passes are also available for $90 for the ten-show season.

The StoryTown Radio Show is sponsored in part by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Christmas in Olde Jonesborough series wraps up with Christmas Church Stroll

The Christmas in Olde Jonesborough series wraps up on December 18 with the Christmas Church Stroll from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stroll through Jonesborough and visit participating churches in the downtown historic district. See their beautifully decorated sanctuaries and enjoy music, hand bells and historic information. Grab a guide at the International Storytelling Center to begin the tour. Hosts will also be available at each location to discuss the history and architecture. Each church is located within easy walking distance of downtown and attendees can shop for last-minute gifts.

Along with the Christmas Church Stroll, gingerbread houses are displayed throughout downtown storefront windows now through December 25. The public is encouraged to view all the edible works of art and also vote on their favorite entries. There are three categories, child, adult/family and professional. Child and adult/family first place winners will each receive $100 cash and the professional first place winner will be awarded $500 cash. The public will vote on their favorite entries now throughDecember 18 here. The winners will be announced December 20. For more information, visit jonesborough.com/gingerbread or call 423.753.1010.

Historic Jonesborough also hosts a month-long series of holiday events and activities called Christmas in Olde Jonesborough. The series takes place every Saturday from November 27 to December 18. Each Saturday will offer a variety of events from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. including caroling, visits with Santa, music, storytelling and extended holiday shopping hours in Tennessee’s Oldest Town. Santa will be on site in his sleigh beside the Washington County Courthouse for pictures and visits with children. Bring letters to Santa, drop them off in the mailbox from November 27 to December 19, and receive a reply from the jolly old man himself. Free gift wrapping will be offered inside the International Storytelling Center during our Saturday events on any purchases made in downtown Jonesborough.

For more information on Christmas in Olde Jonesborough, call 423.753.1010 or visit jbochristmas.com.

The McKinney Center Announces Martin Luther King Jr. Day Food Drive & Virtual Event

To celebrate and remember Martin Luther King Jr., the McKinney Center invites the community to join them in a month-long service project and for a virtual event on January 17, 2 p.m. Between now and January 17, 2022, participants can donate food to the JAMA (Jonesborough Area Ministerial Association) Food Pantry.

As we remember Dr. King, we remember his call to service, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” The McKinney Center invites the Jonesborough community to join in celebrating the service of Dr. King by participating in a food drive to support the JAMA Food Pantry. The JAMA Food Pantry serves residents holding Jonesborough, Telford or Limestone addresses. In particular, the food pantry needs canned pasta (SpaghettiOs, ravioli), evaporated milk, brownie or cake mix, syrup, beef stew, chili and baked beans.

To donate food items, please drop off any items at the McKinney Center until Tuesday, January 18 at 12 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Items will be collected from December 13 until January 17.

Join the McKinney Center for an online stream on the McKinney Center’s Facebook page, on January 17 at 2 p.m., to see live readings from MLK’s speech, hear about local Black history and enjoy powerful song from the civil rights era. Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King through song lead by Ubunibi-Afia Agbenyaga Short, as well as MLK speech readings from Dr. Daryl Carter, Michelle Treece and others. Be sure to visit the McKinney Center’s Facebook page, facebook.com/mckinneycenter, at 2 p.m. on January 18 to join our program.

For more information about this event, please contact McKinney Center’s Community Program Specialist Skye McFarland at [email protected] or call 423.753.0562.

Heritage Alliance uses Historic Preservation Grant

Earlier this year, the Heritage Alliance was the recipient of a Historic Preservation Grant from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). The grant provided new paint and wood repair for the historic Oak Hill School. Over the course of the summer, local painter Christopher Basar and his team with J. Ross Historic Restoration repainted the schoolhouse and repaired/replaced rotten wood.

“In a normal year, Oak Hill School welcomes thousands of people for educational programs,” said Heritage Alliance Executive Director Anne Mason. “It’s such a part of the community, and this preservation grant from the NSDAR has made it possible for us to keep the schoolhouse in operation for years to come.”

Built in 1886, Oak Hill School served first through eighth grade students in the Knob Creek Community of Johnson City until 1952. It was a part of Washington County Schools. The building was moved to Jonesborough in the 1990s to save it from demolition. The schoolhouse is the largest artifact in the collection of the Jonesborough & Washington County History Museum. Today, the Heritage Alliance runs the Oak Hill School Heritage Education Program out of the building. This experiential learning program, the only one of its kind in the area, transports students back to a school day in 1892/1893. The program is based off the records of Washington County Schools’ superintendent at that time. The Heritage Alliance has also partnered with Jonesborough Elementary School to create a unique experience in Oak Hill School where students do 21st century lessons with 19th century supplies. For example, instead of computers, they use slate tablets.

Oak Hill School is home to the State of Franklin Chapter’s Constitution Week Bell Ringing which takes place on the schoolhouse lawn every September. The Jonesborough Storyteller’s Guild has used the school as the “Swapping Ground” at the National Storytelling Festival, and there have even been weddings in the building.

“We cannot thank the State of Franklin Chapter of the NSDAR enough for sponsoring Oak Hill School for this grant. We look forward to the next one hundred years for the schoolhouse,” Mason shared.

“State of Franklin NSDAR treasures Oak Hill School and its contributions to the community. As a historic schoolhouse structure where our chapter partners with Heritage Alliance to celebrate Constitution Week each year, it aligns with DAR’s missions of historic preservation, education, and patriotism.  We’re so grateful to be a part of securing its future,” added State of Franklin Regent Allyson Wilkinson.

Funding for this project was made possible through the sponsorship of the State of Franklin Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The State of Franklin Chapter of the NSDAR has been based in Jonesborough since 1929.

The Chuckey Depot Museum will host Santa Claus

The Chuckey Depot Museum will host Santa Claus on Saturday, December 18 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Santa will be stopping by the historic caboose located outside the museum. Visitors will have a chance to meet Santa and take their picture with him.

Special train ornaments will be available for a $1 donation to the museum. All donations help with future exhibits and educational programs. After visiting Santa, make sure to go inside the museum and check out the exhibits. The Chuckey Depot Museum is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.

The Chuckey Depot Museum is operated under a partnership between the Town of Jonesborough, the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society, and the Heritage Alliance. Visit the museum in person on Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit Jonesborough.com, follow the Chuckey Depot on Facebook or call the Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010.

New Jonesborough K-8 School Community Groundbreaking Celebration

A community groundbreaking celebration was held on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 4 p.m. to commemorate the construction of the new Jonesborough K-8 school. The celebration was held at the school site at 720 North Cherokee Street in Jonesborough. 

With the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Alderman; the Washington County Mayor and County Commission; the Washington County School Board, Director and school System staff; and parents all working together, they are providing teachers, students and staff of the Jonesborough schools with a much-needed wonderful educational facility that will serve the community for decades to come. 

Speakers included: 

  • Mayor Vest, Town Of Jonesborough Mayor
  • Mayor Joe Grandy, Washington County 
  • Jerry Boyd, Director Of Washington County Schools
  • Wayne Woods, Burleson Construction
  • Kerrie Aistrop, Parent Representative

The celebration ended with nearly 20 students breaking ground at the new school site. 

Town of Jonesborough hosted ribbon cutting ceremony for McLeod’s Organics

The Town of Jonesborough hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for McLeod’s Organics, a new business in downtown Jonesborough, on Friday, November 5, located at 101 East Main Street.

“We are so excited to welcome T. and Jennifer McLeod to downtown Jonesborough,” Town of Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest stated. “Their business, McLeod Organics, blends well with our other successful shopping retailers. I encourage everyone looking for healthier and more natural alternative products to visit McLeod Organics.”

McLeod’s Organics offers an array of organic, clean and natural products such as essential oils, superfoods, bulk herbs, supplements, vegan protein powders, collagen protein powders, skin care, body care and cosmetics. They also have salt lamps, diffusers, candles and some gluten-free food items. In the future, they plan to offer yoga classes, wellness classes and live music events inside the store.

“Thank you to T. and Jennifer McLeod for choosing to relocate their business to Jonesborough. Being downtown, they are helping us to maintain a vibrant Main Street,” said Jonesborough’s Town Administrator Glenn Rosenoff.

For more information about McLeod Organics visit mcleodorganics.com or call 423.426.4992.

The McKinney Center Announces November Conversations that Matter

“Conversations that Matter” is a monthly online series from the McKinney Center. In each “Conversation” two local guests will explore their own culture and perspective, and talk to each other about what makes them unique, discover their similarities, and explore their differences. They will look at where their lives might intersect personally and in the community. The goal of each “Conversation that Matters” is for guests and participants to hear real stories, from real neighbors.

For a special Veterans Day focused event in this series, the McKinney Center will feature two local veterans, Suzanne Emberton and Paul Braxton. This conversation will be moderated by McKinney Center Advisory Board Members and volunteers, Michelle Treece and Brittany Butler. It will take place via Zoom on Thursday, November 11, at 7 p.m. Register at McKinneyCenter.com.

Suzanne Emberton is a resident of Johnson City. The Army stationed her husband to teach ROTC at East Tennessee State University in 2013, and they decided to make East Tennessee their forever home. She quickly became involved in the local community, joining the Johnson City Junior League, serving on the Fund Development Committee and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. In May of this year, Emberton was elected Chair of the Washington County Democratic Party. Her paying job is developing training content for software applications at Medable. Emberton is a mom to four, step-mom to two adult children and has one grandson. She’s passionate about politics at all levels, with a big focus on DEI initiatives, LGBTQ+ issues and affordable and accessible healthcare for all. When not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time boating and sailing on the lake and cheering on ETSU Athletic teams, especially basketball.

Paul Braxton is a Jonesborough resident, and an Army Veteran who served his last assignment in Johnson City, Tennessee. He is an avid photographer as well as a member of the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange and StoryTown Radio Show Program. Braxton has collected stories from community members and performed in many of the larger annual community plays at the McKinney Center. Him and his wife, Venessa, are volunteers for the McKinney Center and active members of the community, including attending Bethel Church.

This monthly series is inspired by the Diversity & Equity Subcommittee at the McKinney Center, and their desire to highlight the experiences of all voices in Washington County, Tennessee, with an intention to include marginalized groups. By showcasing these conversations, the Diversity & Equity subcommittee hopes to open doors to new ideas and perspectives amongst our very own neighbors.

After hearing from one another the moderators and guest conversationalists will give insight on how to move forward.

Heritage Alliance to host 43rd Colors of Christmas Progressive Dinner

The Heritage Alliance will host the 43rd Colors of Christmas Progressive Dinner on Saturday, December 4 at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:40 p.m.

Now in its 43rd year, the Progressive Dinner is a unique event that combines fine food, rich history and great entertainment. The event takes place at four different locations and guests will move to each location as the evening progresses.

The event will start at the Chuckey Depot Museum, a restored train depot and Jonesborough’s newest museum. The event will continue at a pre-Civil War frame house on Woodrow Avenue that was once a school. The next stop will be dinner at the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School, and dessert will take place in a beautifully restored home on East Main Street that has never been featured on the dinner before.

Ticket price is $100 per person and proceeds go toward the educational programs of the Heritage Alliance. Seating is limited, and this event typically sells out. Online ticketing is available at jonesborough.com/tickets. Reservations can also be made by calling 423.753.1010. If the reservation is for a table of six or more, contact the Heritage Alliance directly at 423.753.9580.

The Colors of Christmas Progressive Dinner is a traditional start to the holiday season for many people throughout East Tennessee and surrounding states. Seasonal music by several of the area’s finest musicians, including the Jonesborough Novelty Band.

Proceeds from the Progressive Dinner help ensure educational programs of the Heritage Alliance remain accessible to a wide range of audiences, and will benefit preservation and maintenance projects at the Oak Hill Schoolhouse.

The Heritage Alliance will continue to monitor CDC guidelines in regards to Covid-19 and events. If the event needs to cancel for health reasons, it will two weeks in advance.