Gov. Bill Haslam with the evening’s honoree, Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam.
If ever an event took full advantage of a venue, “Under the Big Top,” a recent fundraiser for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Knox County, did. Held at the Mill & Mine, a new-ish concert and event space at 227 Depot Ave., the circus-themed evening used the facility’s 8,000-square-foot outdoor area, the inside stage and also took advantage of the very high ceilings in the main room to stage an aerial arts show.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Knox County mails one new age-appropriate book each month to any Knox County child from birth until age 5 at no cost to the family.
The evening’s honoree was Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam, a longtime advocate of early literacy and parent engagement in education. Due to this astute selection of guest of honor, the festive evening attracted a healthy showing of the Haslam family, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a former Knoxville mayor.
Come along! Let’s run away to the circus!
The spacious courtyard provided lots of space for mingling before the start of dinner.
In the spirit of the evening were, from left, Dr. Nikki Zite, Dr. Erinn Morgan and Ashley Glander.
Jessica Jones and Travis Vickery.
From left, Knox County Commission Chair Dave Wright, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Alan Carmichael and Cal MacLean.
From left, Bonny Naugher, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Priscilla Bright. Naugher is chair of the board of advisors of Knox County Imagination Library.
Knoxville Vice Mayor Duane Grieve sneaks up to photobomb Wayne and Margaret Ritchie.
And gets busted!
Nothing says circus like a stilt walker! In this case, Charley Mathis.
David and Annie Haslam Colquitt, the daughter of the honoree.
From left, Wes and Sarah Stowers, Crissy Haslam and Mary Pom Claiborne, director of marketing and community relations for Knox County Public Library.
Susan Benner and Doug Naugher. (Love the tie!)
Knox County School Board members Amber Rountree, left, and Patti Bounds with Buzz Thomas, former acting schools superintendent.
Rosa Mar, left, and Tammy White.
Jamie and Blake Wilson.
Nathan and Rachel Rhule checking out some of the centerpieces.
From left, Ben and Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, Stacey and Brian Wiseman, Lori Ramsey, Kathryn Greer and Monika Miller.
Bert and Rusha Sams.
From left, Joy Johnson, Julie Webb, Dick and Ann Ince and Charlie Mercer.
Wes and Sarah Stowers, left, with Jim and Natalie Haslam.
From left, Susan Groenke, Fiona McAnally and Susan Benner.
Time to go inside. What a crowd!
The salad course got a chuckle! The orange citrus circus peanut gelatin salad was by caterer Rex Bradford Jones.
Knoxville Aerial Arts Studio provided appropriate entertainment.
Meanwhile, back on the ground, from left, Richard and Kristi Free with Katharine and Roger Killen.
Entree was beef tenderloin medallions with brown sauce accompanied by tri-color roasted potatoes and baked squash rings.
Desserts were adorable! Called a “Three Ring Cake Trio,” they featured chocolate, strawberry and vanilla cake.
From left, Michael Grider, Mayor Tim Burchett and County Commissioner Hugh Nystrom.
Holly and Russ Watkins.
Chris and Dana Moats, left, and Derek and Chelsie Bonzagni.
Adam Brock with Sarah and Liz Stowers, right.
As part of the program, Annie Colquitt told how her mother, Crissy Haslam, taught her to value reading as she was growing up.
In honor of the occasion, Mary Pom Claiborne wrote a children’s book which was read aloud. It featured Crissy Haslam.
The First Lady listened as the story was read.
Then she spoke of her passion for reading and education.
The evening’s master of ceremonies was Abby Ham of WBIR-TV, Channel 10, here with the honoree.
And with the Governor.
Leigh Avery with her dad, Gov. Bill Haslam, after the event.
From left, Gov. Haslam, his daughter Leigh Avery, Crissy Haslam, and Annie and David Colquitt.
Rachel and Marc Kinney. She was chair of the hugely successful event.
Municipal Judge John Rosson with Gov. Haslam.
Mary Pom Claiborne and her husband, John Bradley, just before heading home.