Strong Stock Farm: An idyllic evening for a good cause

Knox Heritage volunteer Lisa Thomas offered arriving guests the evening’s signature cocktail: a watermelon ginger spritz. Refreshing!

“Scenic views at Strong Stock Farm,” the invitation said. I knew from experience they were not kidding! The event this past weekend was one of the “Summer Suppers” to benefit the preservation group Knox Heritage. And Strong Stock Farm is a treasure that I don’t often pass up the chance to visit.

It was as simple — but as impressive — a fundraiser as you’ve ever attended. Forty-eight guests enjoyed a fried chicken dinner on a farmhouse porch. Well-known local musicians were set up under a tent nearby, the host offered horse-drawn wagon rides to any takers, and the program consisted of a three-minute welcome and thank you to the hosts and volunteers. Fortunately, the temperature moderated on Saturday and settled at a comfortable 82 around dinner time.

Strong Stock Farm was established the same year Knoxville was settled — 1791. It is a sprawling 950-acre cattle ranch nestled along the Holston River in East Knox County with a view of both the Smoky Mountains and House Mountain. The same family has owned it for seven generations, and it is famous in culinary circles for the delicious beef produced from grass-fed Black Angus cattle raised there. Current owners Martha Kern and John Niceley are generous by sharing the stunning venue with non-profit organizations they support. Knox Heritage is lucky to be among those.

The view from the porch when the party started at 5 p.m.

Flowers on the steps set the stage for the comfortable atmosphere that awaited.

The porch set for the evening.

First stop: the bar to get one of those cocktails!

Volunteer Tobias Kight was offering deviled eggs, one of three appetizers.

Others were chicken-salad-stuffed cherry tomatoes and caprese salad sticks.

From left, Nikki Sawyer, Jess Shiflett, Judy Shiflett, Lesa Van Mol and Swannee Sexton during cocktails.

Host Martha Kern, left, with Marla and John Peterson. Marla dressed appropriately for the occasion! Love it.

Host John Niceley set to give wagon rides.

Emily and Jerry Lenn always know where to find a good time!

So do our friends Robin Smith, left, and Debbie Emory.

Always nice to see these fun folks, Betty Sue Sparks, left, and Judy Pyne.

Vocalist Nancy Brennan Strange fronted the group, Don Cassell and Friends. (Check out the video at the end of this post.)

Volunteers Matthew Graves and Joanna Toole. He’s a Knox Heritage Board member.

Guests Lesa Van Mol, left, and Connie Wallace.

From left, John Cotham, Tom Whisman, Steve Cotham and Rick Horner.

Hollie Cook, left, and Christine Cloninger. Hollie is director of education and research for Knox Heritage; Christine is executive director.

Jerry and Peggy Faerber.

Kristen Faerber and Jeff Scheafnocker.

Volunteers Scott and Christy Brooks were helping out with bar service.

Jami Roland of The Pour Guys was the “official” bartender. And look what she’s holding in her hand — Pinot Grigio, the nectar of the gods!

Anthony Wilson, left, and Tyler Janow, two of our downtown neighbors.

John Wallace, left, and Greg Sawyer enjoying the scenery.

Doug Sparks, left, and Randy Pyne sharing a laugh.

Faris and Ghada Eid visitng with Alan Carmichael, right.

Joyce and Len Winter.

Dinner started with these excellent roasted corn and arugula summer salads. This was my favorite course — the corn was as sweet as candy!

Volunteers Carson Kirby, left, and Kevin Murphy.

Volunteer Rosa Mar with guest Jerry Lenn.

Dan and Mary Holbrook volunteered along with their grandson, Benjamin Lorton, center.

Dinner was fried chicken, yellow squash casserole, mashed potatoes and corn muffins. Yum. (Especially the squash casserole!)

If I’m not mistaken, those adorable centerpieces are supplemented with kale leaves!

Check out dessert! Very berry salad with whipped cream.

Christine Cloninger making that three-minute speech.

More mingling after dinner! From left, David Shiflett, Steve Van Mol and David Sexton.

Cathy Briscoe, center, with R.J. and Meggie Duncan.

Host John Niceley, left, with Knox Heritage Board member and renowned local artist Mike C. Berry.

Alan Carmichael, left, with our friend Stuart Cassell, a member of the family that owns Strong Stock Farm.

The view as we left 3-1/2 hours after arriving. Stunning.

A great place to be a horse!

Good night.

Here’s a sample of the fun music provided by Don Cassell and Friends:



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9 Responses to Strong Stock Farm: An idyllic evening for a good cause

  1. Gay Lyons, on July 25th, 2023 at 3:07 pm said:

    Such a beautiful place. And sometimes the simplest events are the best events–for hosts and guests. I like the blue SS aprons. Lots of memories of scrubbing wine stains out of the white ones.

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on July 25th, 2023 at 3:13 pm said:

    Gay: Good point about the dark aprons! And about simple events. It was just what we needed! Bravo Knox Heritage! And Martha and John who generously offered Strong Stock Farm.

  3. Christy Brooks, on July 25th, 2023 at 4:29 pm said:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful perspective on the Knox Heritage event and you have a great eye, Cynthia!

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on July 25th, 2023 at 4:43 pm said:

    Christy: You and Scott were huge helps! Thanks for volunteering!

  5. Joan Ashe, on July 26th, 2023 at 7:55 am said:

    Southern comfort all around…..spectacular views…..rib tickling food!

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on July 26th, 2023 at 8:41 am said:

    Joan: I think you would have loved it!

  7. Monique Anderson, on July 26th, 2023 at 4:12 pm said:

    That looks like it was a really good time. Those dinners are great.

  8. Yvonne Poppen, on July 26th, 2023 at 4:17 pm said:

    Looks like a blast. I know so many of those people attending.

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on July 26th, 2023 at 4:32 pm said:

    Monique and Yvonne: You all must try to make the next one! Everyone does such a good job. Mostly volunteer effort, which is very sweet.

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