Laughs and lovely hats launch spring

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon looks great in a hat!

One of my favorite annual events is back! “Hats in Bloom” is a fundraiser for the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum. It involves scores of beautiful hats for sale, a delicious lunch, pretty centerpieces that can be purchased — and very little else! No long program, no auction and no videos. It’s just fun!

Key to the event’s success are the hats, of course. They are produced and delivered by Indiana milliner Patricia Frankum, who has become something of a local celebrity since so many East Tennessee women now own her stunning creations. The hat buying became something of a frenzy last Friday as guests arrived early to start trying them on while sipping mimosas and Bloody Marys.

It has become a beloved Moxley Carmichael tradition for the company to purchase a table at Hats in Bloom and invite all our female employees to fill it. (Don’t worry! There’s a golf outing in the works for the guys!) Continue reading

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Big Ears 2022: ‘A transcendent musical experience’

Aurora Nealand and her band, The Royal Roses, played at Boyd’s Jig & Reel on Friday. We liked them so much, we stayed for two shows.

The Big Ears Festival has come and gone and, trust me, it was one of the best weekends I’ve ever spent in Knoxville. The international music festival attracted about 5,300 visitors each day of its four-day run, according to festival organizers. They came to downtown Knoxville from 47 states and 16 countries.

“From the feedback we’ve gotten from everyone, it really couldn’t have gone much better,” said Ashley Capps, the founder and CEO of Big Ears. “People are describing it as a fabulous, ecstatic experience. Everyone was so happy to be able to be together again listening to music.” (The festival had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.)

The music ranged from jazz to bluegrass, from classical to hip-hop, from rock to folk and from new age to new country. Poetry readings and other spoken word experiences were in the mix. In total, more than 230 performances were held in 12 venues all within walking distance. And about 1,200 participants marched in a frolicsome parade that circled the Old City and ended in a block party. Continue reading

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Mardi Growl ’22: Fun for pets and their people

The winner! This little canine giraffe took first prize in the costume contest at Mardi Growl this year.

I had my doubts a few years ago when Mardi Growl, the fun fundraiser for Young-Williams Animal Center, moved at the city’s urging, from Market Square where it always had been to World’s Fair Park. But, let me tell you, World’s Fair Park is the right place. There’s room for multiple vendors, more space for the animals (and humans) and plenty of room to grow.

It also allows for other events — like the Winter Farmers’ Market — to take place on Market Square. In short, a win-win.

Young-Williams Animal Center’s mission is to lead the community to end pet homelessness, promote animal welfare and enhance the human-animal bond. It is the official animal shelter of Knoxville and Knox County.

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Sponsors’ Event: ‘partiest’ part of L’Amour du Vin!

Each day of the three-day event that is the L’Amour du Vin fundraiser for the Knoxville Museum of Art is unique.

The Artist’s Luncheon, described in the previous post, is all about meeting the featured artist and learning about his or her work. The Saturday night L’Amour du Vin itself is a great dinner and a fabulous auction — mostly of wine, trips and art — that is the major fundraising portion of the weekend.

But the Sponsors’ Dinner, held on the Thursday prior to the other two events, is one thing and one thing only — an over-the-top dinner party. Emphasis on party! It’s no wonder that there’s a waiting list to be a sponsor of this singular event! (Glad that Moxley Carmichael has been a sponsor for years!)

In a nod to the lush florals that highlight much of the work of this year’s featured artist, Gordon Cheung, Dino Cartwright of Lexus of Knoxville staged one of the dealer’s cars to be overflowing with beautiful cut flowers! Creative!

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Gordon Cheung’s artwork: thought-provoking, beautiful and lucrative for Knoxville Museum of Art

Artist Gordon Cheung discussing his work during the Artist’s Luncheon at Blackberry Farm.

The featured artist of this year’s L’Amour du Vin fundraiser for the Knoxville Museum of Art was Gordon Cheung. Guests got the opportunity to meet him and view a PowerPoint retrospective of his work earlier this month at the Artist’s Luncheon at Blackberry Farm.

Cheung’s abstract images result, he said, from his tendency to focus on “in-between states.” The 47-year-old was born, raised and currently lives in London, but his parents hailed from Hong Kong and moved to London seeking better job opportunities. They have since retired and returned to Hong Kong, a place that he has always thought of as “home.” He thinks this dichotomy between London and Hong Kong has contributed to his attraction to “in-between states.” Continue reading

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Love — and a new engagement ring — were in the air!

Newly engaged Patricia Bible and Stephen Hackney.

The event is called “L’Amour du Vin” and it’s in its 19th year as the major annual fundraiser for the Knoxville Museum of Art. It means “for the love of wine” in French. But this past weekend, it translated to love in a more general way — at least for Patricia Bible and Stephen Hackney.

They used the Saturday night event at the museum to debut Bible’s beautiful new engagement ring. Hackney had proposed to her the previous evening! Congrats to them both. Bible, a prominent local businesswoman, is the founder and CEO of KaTom Restaurant Supply. Hackney is owner of a well-known landscape architecture firm in Knoxville.

L’Amour du Vin is a three-day affair each year that features special vintners, a special artist and a special chef who prepares a stunning meal with the help of the local celebrities from  Blackberry Farm. All that came to a head Saturday night at the museum. Continue reading

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Bill Haslam on elections: This is not a game.

Phyllis Y. Nichols, Knoxville Area Urban League president and CEO, with Bill Haslam, former Knoxville mayor and Tennessee governor.

Former two-term Knoxville mayor and two-term Tennessee governor Bill Haslam had strong words for attendees this week at a membership lunch for the Knoxville Area Urban League.

Stop playing games with politics and start electing people who are more concerned with solving real-life problems than with posting clever and mean things on social media.

“Outrage is the flavor of the day,” he said. “It is really easy to make a point. It is harder to make a difference.”

Haslam asked members of the crowd at the Knoxville Convention Center to raise their hands if they were “fed up with the state of politics.” All hands went up.

“We are really divided as a country,” Haslam said. “We are literally divided 50-50. We all live, worship and play with people who think like we do. And then we choose what news to watch based on what we believe. We all want to hear that we are right.”

But Haslam urged listeners to recall the words of his personal mentor, the late Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., who said, “Always remember that the other guy might be right!” Continue reading

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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

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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

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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