Blackthorn Grille chefs Ryan Stipp and James Allen, participants in the first Jonesborough Days ice cream making competition, said they were surprised to be selected as the winners for both the best overall and most original recipe categories.
“We dominated,” Stipp said. “We are pretty surprised about winning both.”
“We definitely thought we would get most original,” Allen said. “But, best overall, we really were not expecting that. So, it was a nice surprise.”
Stipp said their creation — duck fat and maple bourbon ice cream — came from a previous recipe that they decided to revamp.
Allen said he enjoyed having a place to compete and share his talent with the community.
“It’s fun to show the different facets of what we do,” Allen said. “We are looking forward to doing this again next year.”
Organizers expected around 70 people to sample and vote during the ice cream contest, but it was reported that close to 600 people voted for their favorite out of a total of five teams.
Likewise, more than 700 ballots were submitted since last Thursday as part of the Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts-sponsored People’s Choice Art Walk, which featured 28 pieces of art from 17 local artists inside of 22 downtown businesses.
Third place went to Beth Hearn, second place went to Delena Francis and the winner was Gary Hamilton with his piece called “Alex Turns a Leg for Ile Mae’s Table.”
Hamilton, who also won a $300 grand prize, said he was excited to be recognized for his artwork in a town he has always wanted to live in.
He said he found out about Jonesborough while he was working as a journalist in Knoxville and writing about all the storytellers in the area.
“Sometime during those years, I wanted to live here,” Hamilton said. “I thought this would be a great place to live.”
Knowing that the town strives to support all artists in the area makes Hamilton’s decision to live near Jonesborough even better.
“A community that ignores the craftsmen and artists, there’s no community there,” Hamilton said. “I’m impressed that no matter the craft, whether it’s storytelling or photography, the community here seems interested in it. For me, that’s important.”
Jonesborough Days events coordinator Melinda Copp said the festival was successful in showcasing all that makes Jonesborough special.
“We’re very happy with the turnout and of course the weather,” Copp said. “Everything has been great.”
An upcoming debriefing meeting with staff will help organizers get a good idea of how to improve the festival for next year, Copp said.
“I feel like we had a good flow of events that catered to different crowds,” Copp said. “With the Art Walk and things like that, it really got people into the shops.”
Rain dowsed the festival during its last few hours, but it didn’t stop vendors and festival-goers from hanging around until the end.
Amanda Leach said she brought her 7-year-old son, Holden, back to Jonesborough Days to shop on the last day before all the vendors pack up to leave.
“We came yesterday and got the sunburn to prove it,” Leach said. “We came back to shop today.”
Coming out for two days of the festival helped Leach make the most of all the activities available at the festival.
“We’ve had a good time,” Leach said.
Just up the road, Wayne King was still giving out samples of his Datil Sensation hot sauces.
“It’s a hobby,” King said.
For the past three days, King said he had fun meeting other hot sauce fanatics at the festival.
“Tennesseans hit the sauce pretty good,” he said.
Compared to last year, King said the weather made this festival more enjoyable than the past year.
“This has been a great festival this year,” King said. “It wasn’t 107 degrees like last year.”
With the goal in mind to make sure everyone had fun, Copp said she feels like all involved have helped to make sure that was accomplished.
“The festival is about having a patriotic community celebration that focuses on downtown and showcases Jonesborough as a great destination for any time of the year,” Copp said.
“I think everyone had a great time. We had great weather, and weather is such a critical component when having an outdoor festival like this. It was a lot of fun.”