The 42nd annual Jonesborough Days festival kicks off Friday evening and will run through Sunday with return of all the arts and crafts, music, storytelling and Independence Day celebrations the event is famous for and several new twists.
Construction on the streetscape project that has blocked traffic and frustrated shop owners in the downtown historic district for much of this year will come to halt and streets and sidewalks will be smoothed over with gravel and sand to make way for the tens of thousands of visitors expected.
The festival will get under way at 5 p.m. Friday with the opening of the food, crafts and activity booths throughout the downtown and the festival’s new beer garden, located in the Parson’s Table parking lot off Depot Street overlooking the courthouse.
This year’s new venue of “Jonesborough Days and Nights” musical performances will be held on the festival’s main stage in the courthouse parking lot just below the beer garden. The performances will begin at 6 p.m. Friday with Jessica Nixon and the1980s cover band Spank opening for the night’s headline performers, the locally acclaimed alternative southern music group, The Twang Bangers.
Admission to the main stage area is $5 on Friday and, along with proceeds from all the festival’s main stage performances, will go to George and Denise Shinn’s TruLight Foundation to help support local and international charities, including the Jonesborough food pantry.
Special attractions that will continue throughout the festival include a Civil War encampment at the railroad tracks on First Avenue, featuring the19th Alabama Infantry Regiment Re-enactment Group, an operational bath and laundry house, a mortuary, blacksmithing, sewing and quilting demonstrations, a ladies tea and period children’s toys will be on display.
A Native American village with hourly performances by The Little Deer Intertribal Dancers of East Tennessee, cooking demonstrations, craft exhibits and more will be set up at Mill Springs Park off Spring and Fox streets. A Farmers Village featuring a petting zoo, home and farm, produce and tractor exhibits will be set up behind the Visitors Center on Boone Street. A Crafters Village will be located along Christopher Taylor Lane beside the cabin on West Main Street.
The Visitors Center will host contra, waltz and swing dancing and instruction Friday night and all day Saturday and the 24th annual Hoffman Quilt Challenge exhibit of handmade quilts, dolls, clothing and accessories throughout the weekend.
Storytelling performances will be held throughout the weekend on Doc’s Front Porch in front of the International Storytelling Center. And at the Jonesborough Repertory Theater, located one block west of the Storytelling center on Main Street, the JRT will present daily performances of its 1940s USO Camp Show.
Back by popular demand, the USO show featues the big band music and swing dancing of the World War II era and a show-stopping salute to veterans. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. As in past years, the performances are expected to sell out. Tickets are $14 for general admission, $12 for students and seniors, and available in advance at the Visitors Center.
Saturday’s festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with the annual Jonesborough Independence Day Parade along Boone and Main Streets.
Saturday’s main stage entertainment will begin at 6 p.m. with the bluegrass and new country bands The Nortons and The Barefoot Movement opening for Grammy Award-winning artist Ricky Skaggs at 8. General admission to the main stage area on Saturday is $25 and $50 for reserved seating. Tickets will be available at the gate or may be purchased in advance at the Visitors Center.
Skaggs’ performance will be followed by Jonesborough’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display, starting at 10 p.m. The show will be staged from a lot on Jackson Boulevard and visible throughout downtown and the immediate Jonesborough area. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.
Sunday’s festival activities will begin at noon and continue through 5 p.m. and will be highlighted by a free concert by The Whites, the award-winning family harmony group featuring Skaggs’ wife, Sharon, her sister, Cheryl, and their father, Buck, starting at 1 p.m. on the main stage.
For the strong of stomach, there will be a peppe-eating contest sponsored by Chapo’s Chile Patch beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Farmers Village, a pancake-eating contest at the Olde Town Pancake House on Boone Street immediately following Saturday’s parade, and a watermelon-eating contest sponsored by the Jonesborough Merchants Association beginning 1 p.m. Sunday in front of the courthouse.
Free parking and $5 shuttle rides to the Visitors Center will be available throughout the festival at Jonesborough Middle School on East Jackson Boulevard.
For a complete schedule of events or more information, call 753-1010 or visit “Jonesborough Days” on Facebook.