File photo from the 2011 Jonesborough Days parade
The 43rd annual Jonesborough Days celebration will get under way July 5 and continue through July 7, with all the traditional Independence Day events, folk art, music, crafts and food the festival is known for and several new attractions, including a competitive people’s choice art show and guided story tours of the historic downtown district.
Set to the theme “Living and Loving Jonesborough: Small Town, USA,” this year’s festival is expected to be one of the best yet and will serve as a kickoff for interpretive story tours of the town’s historic district that will continue to be available to Jonesborough visitors year-round.
Free, one-hour walking tours will be offered throughout the three-day festival. Led by interpretive guides and interspersed with costumed characters from Jonesborough’s past, the tour will tell the stories of the sites in Jonesborough visitors come to see and the transition the town has gone through since its founding in 1779, as scripted by “I Am Home” playwright Jules Corriere.
The People’s Choice Art Walk will feature works by local artists to be on display in downtown shops throughout the celebration. Festivalgoers and the public may visit the shops and cast votes for their favorite entry beginning June 27. Winners will be announced July 7 and will be awarded cash prizes of $300 for the artwork that receives the most votes and $100 for second- and third-place finishers.
Paintings, photographs, sculptures and other original artworks that correlate to this year’s theme may be entered in the competition for a $15 fee through June 20 at The International Storytelling Center. For entry forms and more information about the art competition, call Bridgette Ward at 218-7104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also new to the festival this year, the town will host a homemade ice cream-making contest on July 7 from noon until 2 p.m. Businesses, community organizations and individual competitors will be churning their best frozen ice cream on site and festivalgoers will be invited to sample and choose the winning flavors for a $1 judging fee. Awards will be presented for best overall ice cream and for the most original and most patriotic ice cream booths. For information on how to enter the contest, call Alicia Phelps at 753-1013.
“We’re excited to be adding some new elements this year, the art walk and especially the story tours,” Jonesborough’s Special Events Coordinator Melinda Copp said. “We think it’s going to give people a good feel for what Jonesborough has been through over the years.”
This year’s main stage entertainment will include a mix of rhythm and blues, bluegrass, acoustic music and more, beginning at 5 p.m. July 5 with an opening performance by rising country artist Logan Murrell, a young Knoxville native who has been playing guitar and singing at venues across the Southeast since age 8. Murrell will be followed by JV Squad, an old-school and rhythm and blues band with an eclectic Southern twist that band members Jared and Vanessa Bentley, David Cate, Lance McCloud and Mike Sams call “mountain soul,” taking the stage at 7.
July 6’s Main Stage entertainment will open with acoustic guitarist Mark Kroos of Williamsburg, Va., one of the only touring double-neck guitarists in the world, with an instrumental style characterized by open harmonies, polyphonic textures and tapping techniques as entertaining to watch as to hear.
The headline performers on July 6 will be bluegrass legends Eddie and Martha Adcock. Known as a patriarch of modern bluegrass music, Eddie Adcock is the creator of the unique “Adcock style” of banjo and guitar picking that has been influencing bluegrass musicians since the 1950s. Touring internationally, the high-energy couple are known for their warm and witty onstage banter for which they are dubbed “the Sonny and Cher of bluegrass.”
In keeping with Jonesborough Days tradition, this year’s festival will feature more than 70 craft vendors, storytelling on Doc’s Front Porch, watermelon-, pancake- and pepper-eating contests and a smorgasbord of traditional festival fare including barbecue, ribs, grilled sausages, kettle corn, funnel cakes, corn dogs, shaved ice and more, all provided by local food vendors.
To get the festival started, a kickoff dinner will be held from 5-7 p.m. July 5 in the Storytelling Center’s upper level parlor and patio. Dinner tickets are $10 and available in advance at the storytelling center and at the Jonesborough Visitors Center. The menu will include grilled chicken, corn on the cob, coleslaw and more. Dinner music will be provided by the Jonesborough Novelty Band.
The annual Jonesborough Days fireworks display will begin at 10 p.m. July 6 and will be launched this year from the town-owned Storytelling Park behind the International Storytelling Center. Mayor Kelly Wolfe said the location will provide a closer view of the fireworks from downtown and will give the town more control over the show, which was canceled last year because of concerns for the heat, dry conditions and liability expressed by the owners of the commercial site on Andrew Jackson Boulevard where the fireworks were shot in past years.
The Jonesborough Days parade will begin at 10 a.m. July 6 at Jonesborough Middle School and will follow Jackson Boulevard and Boone and Main streets to Second Avenue. Parade organizers are inviting entries of floats, horses, antique cars, beauty queens, bands and other marching and walking entries reflecting patriotism and the festival’s small-town living theme.
Parade entries will be judged in front of the Storytelling Center and $750 cash prizes awarded in six categories of entries. The parade entry fee is $50 for commercial entries and $25 for others. For parade entry forms or more information, visit www.jonesboroughtn.org or call at 791-3869.
For more information about the festival lineup, visit Jonesborough Days on Facebook or call the Jonesborough Visitors Center at 753-1010.