Shade was hard to come by Friday evening, but people wandering through downtown for the annual festival, Jonesborough Days and Nights, found relief from the record-breaking heat by ducking underneath shop overhangs, as well as posting up near the few trees on West Main Street.
Just a few hours before the street festival got under way, the fireworks display planned for tonight was called off at the AmericInn site.
“The owners that own the property at AmericInn notified us today. We had a discussion this morning about insurance and they were sort of concerned about their insurance,” said Phil Fritts, chief of the Jonesborough Fire Department. “They went to their insurance company today and it seems like they’re not comfortable with the liabilities they may have and they’re not comfortable with the coverage they have on that particular piece of property.”
While another location was found shortly after the call they received from AmericInn at 3 p.m., Fritts said timing led to another problem.
“The time of day it ended up being, we couldn’t get all of our paperwork worked out with our vendor in time for it to get to Nashville and to return,” he said.
Fritts said calling off the fireworks display was unfortunate, but was something that was, in large part, out of their hands.
“(The fireworks display) was very carefully planned out and it took a lot of planning, but at the end of the day that’s out of our control if the property owners are not comfortable.”
Even with the fireworks problems, Jonesborough Days was in full swing with inflatables for kids to play on, food vendors serving a variety of things from Greek food to kettle corn, as well as craftsman work, jewelry and other unique items.
Jerry Ayres, owner of Walnut Ridge Llama Farm and Store in Chuckey, showcased homemade olive oil soaps, llama dirt and advertised their upcoming fall events.
“Me and my wife have actually the largest llama farm in Tennessee,” Ayres said. “We’ve come to the Jonesborough Days festival for several years, but we haven’t been a vendor before, so we decided to come out this year.
Because of the extreme heat Friday, Ayres said he left the llamas at the farm, but plans to bring a few today for festival goers to see.
He said despite the steamy weather, he feels as though that won’t stop too many people from enjoying the event.
“People always come out. It’s tradition,” Ayres said.
David Crockett High School FFA students were set up outside of the Jonesborough Visitors Center with an animal variety ranging from sheep to goats, bunnies and ducks.
While a lot of the animals are for looks only, Kareena Jones, president of the DCHS FFA chapter, said they do sell some of their smaller animals to people at the festival.
“We usually sell the smaller animals, like the chicks and the ducks and the bunnies and the guinea pigs. They usually sell really well,” she said.
Jones said the money raised at the event will go back into the FFA chapter and their scholarship fund. She said chapter members take shifts at their station so they can all enjoy some of the festival, but she said they’ve really enjoyed having people come by to visit their animals.
“It’s been really fun. We love handling the animals and showing the kids around with them,” Jones said. “We love being down here. We’re all from here, so we like doing it.”
With her arms full of balloon animals and other purchased goods from the festival, Shelby Collins said she’s enjoyed walking around with her daughter, Emily, going through shops and checking out the vendor tables.
“I got here a little early when not as much was set up, but I’ve had a really good time, and what vendors I’ve been to is really nice,” she said.
Collins, planning to head back to the festival grounds today with her son, said she really likes the event’s atmosphere, walking through the shops downtown, as well as festival food favorites, like funnel cakes.
“I would just hope everybody else has as much fun as I have,” she said.