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.
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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

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“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!

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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 eight 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

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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

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Old friends hail “Caesar’s Garden!”

The breathtaking view from Caesar and Dorothy Stair’s home on Lyons View Pike.

When Dr. Doug Leahy recently attended an auction at his church, the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, he placed the winning bid on a private tour for 16 people of Dorothy and Caesar Stair III’s beautiful garden.  Of the two of them, Caesar is the gardener. At age 80, he says he still spends at least 10 hours every weekend working on some part of the oasis. I guess that’s why Dorothy calls it “Caesar’s Garden.”
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Partying with the preservationists!

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon presenting Lawrence Eaton with the City of Knoxville Mayor’s Award for his work preserving the Knaffl House on Speedway Circle.

For 50 years now, starting with the Bijou Theatre, Knox Heritage has been working to preserve historic buildings in the Greater Knoxville area. As someone who lives downtown and who is actively involved with the annual Big Ears Festival, I know firsthand what an important activity that has turned out to be.

I have my residence and my office in historic buildings downtown. But, also important for Knoxville’s success, people who DON’T live or work downtown town love the way our city looks because of the history we have preserved.

During the recent Big Ears Festival, which attracted visitors from almost every state and scores of foreign countries, I heard over and over folks commenting on our town’s looks and charm. They were absolutely enchanted.

Last week, Knox Heritage celebrated the latest successes with its annual East Tennessee Preservation Awards. The reception and ceremony, held in The Emporium Center on Gay Street — itself a historic structure — were an upbeat affirmation of Knoxville moving in the right direction by not wiping out our past.

Cheers to the 2024 award winners! Continue reading

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Clarence Brown boosters: big time in the Big Apple

Clarence Brown Artistic Director Ken Martin and supporter Pandy Anderson during a group lunch at Sardi’s.

One of the best things about being a supporter of the University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre is going on the annual trip to New York City the staff organizes. About 30 supporters made the trek earlier this month, along with a sizeable group of grad students and faculty members.

 The assemblage saw four Broadway productions selected by Clarence Brown’s artistic director Ken Martin and his team. The day before the trip, the 2024 Tony Award nominations were announced and we were delighted to see that three of those four plays received multiple nominations: The Outsiders (12 nominations); Mother Play (4); and Mary Jane (4). The fourth, the revival of The Wiz on the 50th anniversary of its original production, received a lot of publicity for being noticeably snubbed. Continue reading

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Conductor’s Circle dinner: “Just a thank you.”

Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian welcomes supporters to the Conductor’s Circle dinner this past Sunday night.

As thank yous go, you could do worse than a steak dinner and beautiful music on a Sunday evening. That’s what the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s “Conductor’s Circle” dinner is all about.

“It is literally a thank you,” explained Rachel Ford, the Symphony’s chief executive officer. “There’s no agenda. We want our guests to enjoy a chance to talk to one another and to the musicians, to enjoy good food and some great music. That’s it!”

The Conductor’s Circle dinner was back this past weekend for the first time since it was suspended during the pandemic. The site was Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar located in Turkey Creek. And you didn’t have to eat steak — other options were chicken, fish, or a vegetarian entree. Anyone who donates $5,000 or more to the KSO during a year receives an invitation.

Musicians on Sunday were Edward Pulgar, principal second violin; Kathryn Gawne, principal viola; Sean Claire, violin; and Andy Bryenton, principal cello. The music ranged from classical to popular. It was fun! Continue reading

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