Tennessee’s oldest town set the table Friday for the 43rd annual Jonesborough Days festival, which lasts through Sunday.
The festival’s kickoff dinner held on the upstairs courtyard at the International Storytelling Center, where Jonesborough natives Peggy Anderson and Nancy Stover had finished their grilled chicken dinner, began at 5 p.m.
Anderson said Jonesborough Days allows her to extend the recently passed patriotic holiday.
“It (the festival) is always around the Fourth of July,” Anderson said.
Both ladies were excited to have made some new friends who they hope to see around town again very soon.
“It (the festival) brings a lot of people together,” Stover said. “We met some friends in here tonight. They have lived here for 10 years. They sat right across from us and they were very nice.”
Anderson and Stover fancied having a place to relax, fill their bellies and enjoy live entertainment in their hometown.
“I love the whole program,” Stover said.
Stover and Anderson said they mainly attended the festival Friday to support the nearly 70 craft vendors lined up along Main Street.
“We want to look at some of the crafts,” Anderson said. “You never know. You might find that something you’ve been looking for and can’t find anywhere else.”
• See a gallery of photos from Friday's events.
Melinda Copp, Jonesborough Days events coordinator, said the festival’s first day gives those in attendance a taste of what is still to come in Jonesborough this weekend.
“We’ve had the kickoff dinner, which is wrapping up and we have everything set up,” Copp said. “Tomorrow we’re excited to kick off with the parade first thing in the morning at 10 a.m. That really kind of starts the whole festival.”
A full day of festival fun and activities, Copp said, includes free historic Jonesborough tours beginning at noon, a beer garden area open from 6-11 p.m. and a fireworks display at 10 p.m.
“We have an art walk going on where we have art displayed in the shops downtown,” Copp said. “You can actually vote on that. We have a people’s choice ballot where they can go around and visit all the stores to vote on favorite their pieces.”
Food has also made its way into contests, which started Friday with the pepper-eating contest.
Today’s food wars will include pancake- and watermelon-eating contests, Copp said.
More live entertainment is also scheduled for the second day of the festival.
Doc’s Front Porch will host storytellers and even more bands today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We’ll have music Saturday night on the Main Stage as well,” Copp said.
At 5 p.m. today, Mark Kroos will take the Main Street Stage followed by Eddie and Martha Adcock.
Starting off the weekend Main Stage entertainment, Logan Murrell, a Knoxville native, performed a medley of cover songs that catered to a wide variety of music preferences.
While on stage, Murrell noticed that Paul Dover and neighbor Laurie Polden had brought some unexpected guests to the festival.
Children and adults began to circle Dover who had brought his pet snakes Karma and George.
Polden said she enjoyed spending time educating people at the festival about the snakes.
Dover said he would have liked to take Karma and George out for a stroll down Main Street during last year’s festival, but this year the sunshine made for perfect conditions.
“I try to bring them out, but I’ve missed the last year or two,” Dover said. “It either rained or it was too cold. I usually bring them down.”
Dover said Jonesborough Days is one of his favorite post-holiday celebrations.
“It’s awesome,” Dover said. “I love it.”