Christmas 2021 in the rear-view mirror

Marguerite Smith Hogan of Knoxville poses with some of her beautiful landscapes.

The Feast of the Epiphany was last week. That’s the traditional day to take down the Christmas decorations and kind of be done with the winter holidays. The Blue Streak missed the deadline a little, but here we are sweeping out the last of the holiday posts.

Christmas 2021 was a strange one but we Knoxvillians still managed to have some good and memorable times. Here’s a last look at one of my favorite holiday traditions and a sincere hope that we can more comfortably gather together this year.

Artsclamation! is a fun fundraiser for Covenant Health’s Peninsula Hospital. Held in early December at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Northshore Drive, it offers a chance to do some holiday shopping and pick up some great art by well-known and lesser-known mostly regional artists.

I urge you to mark your calendars for this awesome event this coming December. Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Events, Knoxville | 4 Comments

One of our best gifts this season!

Chef Joseph Lenn and his girlfriend, Laura Cole, prior to “Christmas & Cocktails,” a fun dinner he prepared at his parents’ home. Laura is director of the Masters Investment Learning Center at UT’s Haslam College of Business.

Merry, merry everyone!

The Blue Streak hopes you are having a terrific and celebratory day and that, perhaps, you are scrolling on your devices either waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven — or you have stuffed yourself and are scrolling while watching football on TV. In any case, hope you are enjoying your warm Christmas Day — so different from last year’s snowy situation,

Our turkey is still in the oven, so I wanted to share with you one of the best gifts we received this year — an invitation from Jerry and Emily Lenn to have dinner recently at their new house! And, get this: it would be prepared by their son, who just happens to be Chef Joseph Lenn, the James Beard Award-winner who owns one of our favorite restaurants, J.C. Holdway in downtown Knoxville. Continue reading

Filed under: Food, Knoxville | 13 Comments

Blackberry Farm event was marvelous. Mostly.

You gotta wonder what Jim Haslam said to crack up Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon! Natalie Haslam is seated.

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s annual fundraising dinner at Blackberry Farm was a sellout this year as folks seemed to crave getting out and about after being fully vaccinated — a requirement to attend the event. (Thank you, Knoxville Symphony!)

Even before the wine was served at the four-course meal, spirits were high in Bramble Hall, the beautiful event center at Blackberry Farm.

The Knoxville Symphony is having a stellar season this year and getting rave reviews even though audiences are missing the conducting and conversation by Music Director Aram Demirjian. He is on medical leave being successfully  treated for early stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The prognosis is excellent with Demirjian expected to return to the podium in the first quarter of 2022. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Music | 6 Comments

Cookies ’21: Even more festive after the COVID break

From left, Margaret Rodgers, Shaun Fulco and Michelle Hardin look serious as they load up their tins with cookies.

COVID was the Grinch who stole Christmas last year — at least it put the kibosh on our annual cookie exchange. So, last December — after 17 straight years — no cookies!

But the cookie exchange was back in full force this past weekend, and the noise level in our Gay Street condo indicated that folks were more than ready for it.

We had chocolate cookies and several kinds of shortbread. Cookies in the shape of wreaths and “thumbprints.” Amaretto cookies and “snowballs” and oatmeal cookies. We even had “monster” cookies – so named because they are huge and have so many different things in them.

Well, you get the idea. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 11 Comments

Cause for Paws: Animals make any event fun!

Brittany Bailey, one of the main sponsors of Cause for Paws, gets up close and personal with a puppy.

Despite a last-minute weather cancellation and a change of venue, spirits remained high — and so did the bids in the charity auction — during the annual “Cause for Paws,” a critical fundraiser for Young-Williams Animal Center.

The threat of thunderstorms and high winds derailed plans a few weeks ago to hold the popular event — now in its seventh year — under a tent at Historic Westwood. Instead, it was held last week indoors at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

The live auction featured everything from dinners and stays in downtown Knoxville to adoption of a number of sweet animals, including puppies, kittens and rabbits.

King Purnell, chairman of the board of Young-Williams Animal Center, said the official shelter of the City of Knoxville and Knox County is experiencing record numbers of intakes and record numbers of adoptions while still maintaining its “no-kill” status, meaning that more than 90 percent of the animals that come there are saved. In fact, the current “save rate” is 94.8 percent. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Great party and pithy insights from Lamar Alexander

Former U.S. Sen. and Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, left, with former Knoxville Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Victor Ashe. (And Sharon Pryse executing a friendly photobomb!)

It looked like a capacity crowd last week at a $500-per-seat dinner honoring former U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander as “East Tennessean of the Year” during a fundraiser for the East Tennessee Historical Society. Familiar faces from all phases of Alexander’s public life filled Cherokee Country Club to honor him, causing a half-hour-long traffic jam that blocked Lyons View Pike and delayed the start of dinner by 30 minutes.

Nobody minded. We were in a jovial mood, fueled no doubt by the joy of the occasion and the extended cocktail hour. “Lamar Alexander is the only person I know who has been a governor, president of a major state university, U.S. Secretary of Education, presidential candidate and United States Senator,” said Roy Kramer, retired commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and himself a past East Tennessean of the Year award winner.

Alexander used the occasion to discuss the value of teaching history. “History is important,” he said. “The good and the bad need to be taught. Even the embarrassing  parts.” Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Politics | 6 Comments

Marble City Market: vast array of choices (and fun!)

Keith Wilson, center, is the general manager of Marble City Market. Polly Fisher and Daryl Johnson joined him during the preview party.

If you can’t find something you like at the newly opened Marble City Market in Regas Square, you aren’t hungry! More than 300 folks showed up last Wednesday for the preview party for the new food hall, which features 11 eateries, a big bar and two Topgolf Swing Suites. And a whole bunch (including me!) showed up again when the venue opened for real on Friday.

At the preview party, guests were served sample sizes of some of the best offerings. On Friday, the portions were actual sized!

You know how Knoxville loves a new restaurant. I guess the giddiness on display Wednesday night just shows what happens when there are 11 new restaurants opening at the same time!

Marble City Market is operated by Hospitality HQ, a culinary consulting and management company helmed by award-winning chef Akhtar Nawab. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 9 Comments

‘Bach at the Botanicals’ beguiles in brand new way

Violinist Rachel Loseke introduces a piece to be performed in The Secret Garden, which was the third stop of our evening.

“Bach at the Botanicals” was a new endeavor by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra this year, but it was such a success that you can expect to see it again.

Held at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum on a beautiful, clear Thursday evening, it offered guests the option to bring their own chairs and experience small ensembles performing in seven different locations in the garden. It was free of charge.

“This was the first time we’d performed at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and it was a really fun, new way for the  KSO to engage with the community,” KSO Executive Director Rachel Ford said. “The multiple settings were varied and gorgeous. The highlight of the evening was the moon over the Dogwood Center while the KSO played. Just stunning!”

The excellent feedback from patrons is what makes it almost certain to be a recurring event, Ford said. Our group thought it was fun to try to make it to all seven stops during the hour-and-a-half time frame.

Luckily, as you will see, we had a very serious time-keeper to keep us on track.

Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Music | 9 Comments

A relaxing rendezvous at Rivershack Farm

A view of the Holston River and rolling farmland made for a great setting for a Knox Heritage “Summer Supper.”

Knox Heritage scaled back the number of its popular fundraising “Summer Suppers” this year due to COVID-19 considerations, even making a couple of them virtual. But the ones they did have in person — generally in outdoor locations — continued to be the crowd pleasers they always were. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 5 Comments

UT Coach Josh Heupel and Athletics Director Danny White charm crowd at welcome event as season kicks off

UT Director of Athletics Danny White, center, chats with Pilot Founder Jim Haslam and CEO Shameek Konar during the reception. To White’s right is his wife, Shawn.

Well, football season has started with the team producing a win on the field, thank goodness. We witnessed another win, as well. Both Tennessee Head Football Coach Josh Heupel and Director of Athletics Danny White absolutely charmed a crowd of well-wishers at a recent welcome reception. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Uncategorized, UT sports | 2 Comments