Actor Phil McPeak exclaimed after he had been cast in the role of Rounder. It tells the story of a sixteen-year-old who, in 1944, decides to leave Jonesborough by train, go out west, and get rich, only to reach the other side of the country friendless and homesick, and in a hurry to get home. “I did the exact same thing! Saved up money, bought a suitcase and hat to make my fortune and then learned in a hurry how the world worked” he laughed.
Stories abound at the Storytelling Festival each year, and I’m not talking about the tellers. While I was in the Courthouse Tent listening to Corinne Stavish, I took a moment to look around at the crowd. The tent was filled with sixteen hundred people. It occurred to me that those sixteen hundred people were all listening to the same story, but they were all listening for sixteen hundred different reasons.
If you take a walk down Main Street Jonesborough during the week of the National Storytelling Festival, there's no telling who you might run into. Donald Davis, one of the most loved storytellers with roots running across the Appalachian Mountains, can always be found taking in the ambiance of Jonesborough in early October. On this particular sunny, but cool day, Donald was simply enjoying the company of his wife and a cup full of JJ’s ice cream.
They say the best form of advertising is word of mouth, and this proved to be true when I heard about the Storytelling Festival from a few of my friends who'd attended in years past. The festival brings together storytellers from across the globe to share their tall tales, childhood memories, and even ghost stories to audiences who are eager to hear them. As a child, I spent many holidays sitting around my great aunt's kitchen table where the adults took turns swapping stories and sharing their favorite memories, and I loved how the festival preserves this age-old form of entertainment. In between storytelling sessions, I wandered through the quaint little town of Jonesborough where historic buildings line the streets and friendly locals welcomed me inside their shops. I overheard someone say that Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee, and the cozy inns and B&Bs perfectly capture its history. The town made me nostalgic for an era I've never even lived.
Its Humble Roots A hay wagon was pulled in the shadow of the Courthouse in 1973 and a day filled with bbq, live music, and storytelling followed. Its roots are simple, but that’s what’s so beautiful about its foundation.
Not long ago I visited Tennessee Hills Distillery with a group of friends. I wouldn’t have thought that Jonesborough would be the home of a pretty amazing distillery, but it is. The surprisingly young owner’s sense of style and love for good liquor definitely carried through the vibe of the distillery and taste of his product. It was trendy and hip with a subtle nod to the heritage of the town.
I was in full tourist mode as I strolled down the street in beautiful historic downtown Jonesborough. I wondered what the town was like 100 years ago. The buildings still had that old timey charm making me think about the history of the place. I couldn’t help but gaze at a gorgeous tan building with maroon trim, and to top it all off the building had an outstanding 2nd floor porch overlooking downtown.