No evil spirits at the Garden’s summer solstice!

Tom Boyd and Sandi Burdick were among those celebrating the summer solstice at the Knoxville Botanical Garden.

It was the longest day of the year and the folks at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum were determined to make the most of it. So, appropriately, they set a major fundraiser, the Summer Solstice Dinner, on the precise date when Earth’s axis would be tilted most toward the sun (at least in the northern hemisphere).

It was such fun — and a sellout! Everyone was encouraged to wear white attire and the vibe was extremely casual. I guess we followed in the footsteps of our pagan ancestors who believed that evil spirits would appear on the day of the summer solstice. To ward them off, ancient people would wear garlands of flowers and herbs in their hair on that day. Similarly, flowers were liberally distributed to attendees at the Knoxville Botanical Garden event.

Adding to the convivial mood, dinner was served family style with big bowls of food passed around the tables. I think the chatter and the laughter were enough to scare away any evil spirits who managed to survive the flowers! Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 2 Comments

A Knox 4th of July: food, fun, friends, and fireworks

Alan Carmichael cannot resist a dessert — like this one at Joan and Victor Ashe’s party! It was a chocolate blueberry bundt cake that Kay Leibowitz brought.

The high was 93 degrees on Independence Day and we headed to three outdoor parties — one in deep west Knoxville, one in what is called “short west,” and one in downtown on the Tennessee River. I’m not going to tell you it didn’t feel like 93 — because it did! But I will say the fun folks at every stop didn’t let it damper the festivities in the least!

First stop was in Westmoreland Hills off Westland Drive at the beautiful home of Judith and Michael Foltz. The Foltzes, who have a great place to party in their lovely backyard, provided pulled pork and pulled chicken barbecue sandwiches for lunch and all the guests contributed the other dishes. It was a great way to start the holiday.

(Judith, the retired director of special events for the City of Knoxville, knows a thing or two about throwing parties! That’s why I think it’s great that she has opened her own special events company. I was happy to be one of her first clients when she launched the company a few months ago. Highly recommend!) Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 8 Comments

Heat drives partiers into “Garage-Mahal”

Volunteer Barbara Apking, a member of the host committee, offers cheddar cheese coins to arriving guests at the Summer Supper at Murphy Springs Farm

It was literally 92 degrees in the shade last month when the organizers of the Summer Supper at Murphy Springs Farm decided to move the event indoors. The logical choice? Farm owner Kevin Murphy’s huge garage — or “the Garage-Mahal,” as they called it!

Murphy Springs Farm is one of 13 so called “century farms” in Knox County. That means it has been owned and farmed by the same family for more than 100 years. The Murphy Springs Farm consists of 205 acres of land located in northeast Knox County at Washington Pike and Murphy Road — just outside the Knoxville city limits.

The sold-out Summer Supper was the first of three such fundraising events benefiting Knox Heritage, East Tennessee’s premier preservation organization. (There are a few tickets left for the final Summer Supper coming up on July 13.)

The toasty evening started with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served on the lawn of the historic farmhouse. Dinner followed in the garage. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation | 6 Comments

Downtown Home Tour: options are amazing!

Jane Venable, left, and Kim Cunningham visit one of the VIP homes on the Downtown Home Tour: the lovely residence of Kim and Jim Hays in the Burwell Building, located at 602 S. Gay Street, the same structure that houses the Tennessee Theatre.

No matter what kind of housing you are seeking, you can probably find it in downtown Knoxville. Big spaces, tiny spaces, historic properties, ultra-modern vibes. Views of the river, the mountains, the city, or the ever-changing construction site of the brand new downtown stadium!

The East Tennessee Historical Society demonstrated all that once again earlier this month with its popular Downtown Home Tour. Ticket-holders could tour nine different residences. Folks who opted for the VIP version of the tour could add an additional two homes to the itinerary (plus a pretty fun reception!). Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Historic preservation | 8 Comments

Lakeshore Park Picnic just shouts, “Summer!”

Bruce and Tami Hartmann enjoyed the picnic with their daughter, Melissa Cox, back, and grandchildren, Charlie and Clara.

Temperatures hovered in the low 90s, but the vibe was definitely cool at Lakeshore Park last Saturday for its annual picnic fundraiser. Officials said 370 people either brought their own picnic dinner fare or purchased it from one of a dozen local eateries who delivered the goods to the picnic area.

The cover band Smooth Sailor was perfect playing familiar music from the ’70s and ’80s non-stop for three hours at the HGTV Overlook. Adults wandered among the picnic blankets and portable tables chatting with friends while children busied themselves running around or playing games their parents had thoughtfully brought along.

The picnic raised more than $79,000, said Julieanne Foy, executive director of Lakeshore Park Conservancy. “We are thrilled with the success of the event,” she said. “The funds raised go directly toward the care of the park.”

I, personally, was a little disappointed that the night ended without the usual fireworks display. Foy explained the reasoning. “It became too expensive,” she said. “And spending money on something like that really doesn’t fall in line with our mission.” Fair enough. Maybe someone could underwrite the fireworks next year. Just a thought. It still was a wonderful evening.
Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Music | 10 Comments

Wedding reception attracts chefs, artists, notables

Costume change! Don’t the newlyweds look great as they were welcoming guests to their wedding reception at J.C. Holdway on June 9?

If you read the previous post on the Blue Streak, you know what a fun and delicious wedding day Chef Joseph Lenn and noted UT professor Laura Cole had a little over a week ago. I think it was brilliant on their part to schedule their wedding reception on the following day. I mean, you can only party so much in one sitting (or standing)!

The reception attracted not only family members and close friends, but other great chefs and food industry people, our most famous local visual artists, and leaders of Knoxville’s cultural community.

In another stroke of genius, even though the reception was held in Chef Lenn’s restaurant, J.C. Holdway, the couple had the event catered — by Chef Lenn’s friend and former colleague and employee, Marcus Stokely of Wells Station Barbecue.

Well, enough of this talk! Let’s look at the food and the fun of Joseph and Laura Lenn’s wedding reception! Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food | 5 Comments

“Pip” marries “Joey Ovens!” Great food follows!

Joseph Lenn and Laura Cole prior to their wedding on Saturday.

Our friend Laura Seery Cole’s father, John Seery Sr., is from New Jersey and he has a nickname for everyone. When Laura was a little girl, he called her “Pip,” which was short for “pipsqueak.”

A few years ago, Laura began dating and then became engaged to Knoxville’s only James Beard Award-winning chef, Joseph Lenn, who owns J.C. Holdway restaurant on Union Avenue in downtown Knoxville. Her father quickly came up with a nickname for him: Joey Ovens!

The two officially tied the knot this past Saturday in a ceremony at the restaurant attended by about 50 friends and family members. It was followed, naturally, by a six-course dinner with wine pairings!

Continue reading

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Bijou Jubilee: Miami vibes help raise $70,000

From left, Rick and Jenny Blackburn, Margaret and David Butler, and David Arning, who is a member of the Bijou Theatre’s board of directors.

Empanadas, plantains, salsa music, jugglers, and rum.

A buffet and open bar at the Bistro at the Bijou, a street party on Cumberland Avenue outside the historic Bijou Theatre, and, finally, a fantastic sold-out concert by The Mavericks.

What a fun way earlier this month to raise $70,000 to preserve the downtown treasure, a pitch-perfect entertainment venue that was built into an old hotel constructed in 1801. Continue reading

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Cheers! Hundreds poised for Downtown Home Tour

Kim Henry, left, and Jenny Bushkell at the VIP reception for the Downtown Home Tour last night. Kim’s home in Fire Street Lofts is on tomorrow’s tour.

If you are in downtown Knoxville tomorrow, expect to see about 450 folks earnestly pounding the sidewalks with thin grey booklets in their hands. Don’t get in their way! They have a lot of ground to cover.

It’s the Downtown Home Tour sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society. The 350 paying guests and 100 volunteers, who also are invited to take the tour, have nine homes to visit between 10 a.m and 5 p.m. Plus an additional two residences for those who shelled out $100 for the expanded VIP experience.

Organizers honored the sponsors, home hosts, and VIP ticket purchasers last night with a fun little cocktail reception in the historic Arcade Building on Gay Street. That’s where these photos were made.

The Downtown Home Tour actually originated with another organization called City People, which was formed in 1983 to celebrate the joys of living, working and playing in downtown Knoxville. In 1990, City People launched the popular annual tour of downtown residences to highlight the diversity of living options. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville | 9 Comments

Great idea: A garden party for annual meeting!

Longtime Knoxville Museum of Art supporter Barbara Bernstein at the KMA Guild’s annual meeting last month.

A non-profit organization’s annual meeting can be a pretty dry and boring affair. Trust me. I know this from being on numerous non-profit boards over the past 35 years. But, the Knoxville Museum of Art Guild turned its annual meeting into a lovely garden party. That made it a LOT better!

Guild member and avid Knoxville Museum of Art supporter Barbara Apking provided the lovely west Knoxville location in her back yard on Stone Mill Drive. By the Tracks Catering provided beautiful and creatively presented salads — and yummy desserts. And all the news was good!

The Guild reported to its members that it raised more than $200,000 for the museum last year. And guild co-presidents Judy Doyle and Gail Van Hoozier were re-elected to those posts for the coming year.

Now, let’s party! Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Events | 9 Comments