Melding of music and nature nets perfect Sunday

Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay and his wife, Adrian, who is on the Symphony Board, made the most of the beautiful evening.

Among the top five best events in Knoxville every year is Symphony in the Park. Held this past Sunday at Ijams Nature Center, it features a performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in the beautiful setting that is Ijams. Funds raised benefit the 315-acre nature park.

Whereas last year, for the first time in the event’s more than 30-year history, the Knoxville Symphony performed under tents in a strong rainstorm, this year the weather was perfect. As was the music, which ranged from Mozart, Beethoven and Bartók to Lady Gaga and the Beatles. Perhaps the most interesting part of the evening featured vocalist Christina Horn performing with some electronic instruments, which are her trademark.

“This is so exciting,” said my friend Judith Foltz, currently the city of Knoxville’s director of special events and former development director for the Knoxville Symphony. “I am so happy to see the Symphony moving in this direction and trying to appeal to new audiences.” Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville, Music | 14 Comments

‘We are going to be dreaming big.’

Chancellor Donde Plowman making remarks at a reception held in her honor recently.

That’s what just-hired UT-Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman announced recently at a community reception held in her honor at the beautiful new Student Union on the University of Tennessee campus.

The reception, sponsored by Pilot Flying J, Cherokee Distributing Company, The Christman Company and The University of Tennessee Medical Center, allowed about 200 members of the business and civic community to get to know the new chancellor and hear her plans. (Moxley Carmichael was proud to be the organizer.)

Interim UT President Randy Boyd introduced Plowman, saying the university intends to be “laser focused on student excellence.”

“We, unfortunately, too often work in silos,” Boyd said. “We need someone who can help us work together. Donde is a team builder, and she will be a terrific chancellor.” Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Knoxville | 4 Comments

Attention event planners: Christmas is nigh!

Festive decoration for a holiday party. (Blue Streak photo)

This is another guest post by Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael. Maria expertly handles EventCheckKnox, which is designed to help event planners avoid having their events conflict with similar functions. Even though EventCheck Knox is designed for planners, it can be accessed by anyone. Look before you book! -Cynthia

It’s been stifling hot in August, but I need you to think about December. Specifically, I need you to provide the dates – and details if available yet – of your important holiday fundraisers.

As of now, the EventCheck Knox calendar for December 2019 looks like a half-decorated Christmas tree compared to December 2018.

The month of December gets packed as people scurry about getting ready for assorted holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa – and the accordant parties, services and gatherings associated with all of them.

If your nonprofit or organization is holding an important fundraiser in December, such as the University of Tennessee School of Music Holiday Musicale or the East Tennessee Foundation’s Red & Green Evening, I need the date as soon as it is set.

As always, all that is needed to place an event on EventCheck Knox is a confirmed date. The details, including venue and ticket prices, can be added later. Just click HERE to submit your event.

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Culinary community coalesces for Chef Cunningham

Chef Joe Cunningham, center, with fellow chefs Joseph Lenn, left, and Matt Gallaher at a party in 2015 at Public House to celebrate Lenn’s leaving Blackberry Farm to start his own restaurant. Lenn and Gallaher were among the organizers of Sunday’s soiree.

The Knoxville restaurant and hospitality community came together this past Sunday for an over-the-top fundraising dinner to assist the family of Chef Joe Cunningham. The popular 43-year-old executive chef at Northshore Brasserie died in July from complications after a car accident.

His industry friends organized a five-course dinner with wine pairings. They sold 200 tickets at $250 a piece and put together a silent and live auction at The Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville. The result: they raised more than $88,000 which will go to Cunningham’s wife, Laura Petit, and two children, Noah, 19, and Willa, 10.

It truly was a community effort. “It hasn’t been any work,” said Stephanie Balest, co-owner of Northshore Brasserie, in brief remarks. “Every phone call has given us a yes. Every morsel of food, the chair you are sitting on, the plates, the wine. All have been donated.”

Cunningham’s mother, Nancy McCoy from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, brought tears to the eyes of his friends when she briefly took the microphone. “I always knew he was special,” she said. “I am so glad he was in a place where he was loved and cared for as much as he was in Knoxville.” Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 4 Comments

Tomato Jam ’19: Not just a bunch of Bloody Marys!

Bartender Whitney Scott of Sapphire mixing a drink called “Atlantic Love Tonic.” Whitney and the Sapphire booth won the “flair” award.

Congrats to the talented mixologists and proprietors of J.C. Holdway and Libacious Cocktail Catering for winning the first place Judges’ Award and People’s Choice Award, respectively, at the Tomato Jam cocktail contest.

The festive event, held Aug. 4 at downtown’s The Mill & Mine, pitted 10 cocktail providers against each other in a competition to make the best tomato-based drink. The affair, in its third year, was a fundraiser for Nourish Knoxville, a nonprofit that organizes the Market Square Farmers’ Market and supports other relationships between local farmers and the public.

The top pick of the judges was called “Green with Envy” and looked a bit like a margarita. But, rather than tequila, the mixture of tomato water and cucumber flavors contained George Dickel white corn whiskey. It was interesting.

The top vote-getter in the People’s Choice category was concocted by Casey Fox of Libacious. Called “The Garden Party,” it was one of the most complex drinks offered. It contained a syrup made from roasted tomatoes combined with vodka, passion fruit, lime, celery bitters and a fresh dill garnish. Like many of the entries, it was sweet — something you don’t normally expect from a tomato drink.

But these were not your run-of-the-mill Bloody Marys. Continue reading

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Chef Gallaher’s ‘Summer Supper’ was scary good!

Chef Matt Gallaher of Emilia and Knox Mason shows off his very sharp knife prior to dinner service Saturday. (I would have been scared, if he weren’t such a nice guy.)

Chef Matt Gallaher took full advantage of the state-of-the-art kitchen in the newly renovated Kingston Pike home of former University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport for the Knox Heritage “Summer Supper” he prepared on Saturday.

Davenport, who lived in the 1920-era home at 2733 Kingston Pike for about a year before leaving UT last year, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars of renovations into it, and created what Realtor Jon Brock described to the News Sentinel as “maybe the very best historic renovation I’ve ever seen in Knoxville.”

The Georgian Revival-style home is owned today by Christian and Katie Corts, who paid slightly over a million dollars for the 3,396-square-foot residence. Christian said they were happy to welcome the Knox Heritage guests into the space because “it forced us to get a lot of things done.”

The house truly is stunning. The real knock-out is a second-floor outdoor patio just off the master bedroom. This is where guests of the sold-out fundraiser were welcomed with classic cocktails called French 75s and scrumptious passed hors d’oeuvres. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 7 Comments

‘Shoes for School’ succeeds — for 17th year!

Pamela Garcia enjoys the fire hat she received at Shoes for School this past Saturday. (Photo by Lydia Bailey.)

East Knoxville’s Caswell Park was filled with about 7,000 people Saturday morning as the Knoxville Area Urban League held its 17th annual “Shoes for School” event to distribute athletic shoes and school supplies to students on the last weekend of summer vacation.

The event, with Covenant Health as its largest underwriter, distributed more than 1,500 pairs of shoes to children who had been pre-qualified by area civic organizations. About 4,000 picked up all kinds of school supplies and enjoyed hot dogs, snow cones, games and other activities on a beautiful day.

“Sending kids back to school with new shoes and the supplies they need for the year is a morale boost for the kids and removes a financial hardship for parents,” said Phyllis Y. Nichols, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League. “We thank every partner, including Covenant Health – our presenting sponsor for the second year in a row – every volunteer and every person who made this possible. Smiles all around indicate that we’re doing the right thing.” Continue reading

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By the time you hear Rocky Top, it’s too late

This is a guest post by Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael. Maria handles the popular planning calendar, EventCheckKnox, that is designed to help event planners avoid having their events conflict with similar functions. Even though EventCheck Knox is designed for planners, it can be accessed by anyone. Look before you book! -Cynthia

If you’re an event planner in East Tennessee, it’s imperative to know the football schedule for the Vols. Fortunately, the schedule is released well ahead of the season, so planners have advance notice to work around all things orange and white.

EventCheck Knox already is looking ahead with the Vols’ four non-conference games in 2020 on the calendar with three in September and one in November. As soon as the SEC releases the 2020 conference schedule, we’ll add those, too.

Neyland Stadium at dusk. (Photo by UT Athletics)

If you’re not yet looking that far ahead – though you probably should be – the 2019 season offers planners a rare opportunity. Read to the end to find out what that is this year.

Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, UT sports | 5 Comments

Rest in peace, Sid Blalock, a fun Blue Streak fixture

We were traveling in Scotland last week when we got the sad news of the passing of East Tennessee businessman Sid Blalock. Sid and Jo, his wife of 58 years, have been frequent attendees at events covered on the Blue Streak since it was started in 2009. I thought you might want to see some of the photos in which he appeared.

Jo and Sid Blalock attending Zoofari, a fundraiser at Zoo Knoxville in the summer of 2014.

Sid always appeared to be having a good time and, obviously, he shared the philosophy of many other Blue Streak regulars: do good and have fun! I hope you enjoy this brief walk down memory lane. Our condolences to Jo and the rest of Sid’s family.

Here is a link to a story about his passing as it ran in the News Sentinel last week: Continue reading

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Something peachy and piggy at Cottonwood

In North Knoxville is a beautiful historic home called Cottonwood. Built between 1894 and 1897 by botanist Nathan Wesley Hale and his wife, Laura Adelaide Sebastian, it sat at the time on 300 acres that the Hales dedicated to the cultivation of peaches. According to Knox Heritage, Nathan Hale’s orchards were such a success that there even is a peach, the Hale Peach, named in his honor.

Historic Cottonwood is located at 3212 Washington Pike. It was the scene last month of a fantastic Knox Heritage Summer Supper.

Later in its history, in 1930, Louis M. Lay of the well-known Knoxville meat packing company Lay’s Meats, purchased the property. The company, in its heyday, was recognized by many by its advertising logo featuring “the three little pigs.” The Lay’s Meats founder owned the home and land until 1959.

Unfortunately, after the Lay family sold the estate, it fell into disrepair to the point that many felt it would be demolished. But in 2006, it was purchased again. This time by Stewart Lusk and Greg Merritt who have worked tirelessly over the past 13 years to restore it to its original grandeur. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 11 Comments