Autumn splendor in the mountains

Every year at this time Mother Nature shows her true colors in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee. Splashes of orange, red and gold set the subdued green hues of summer ablaze with autumn splendor. Variations of this breathtaking scene unfold throughout the area in mid-October making fall the favorite season of many.

The Addams Family coming in time for Halloween

Just in time for the Halloween season, the Johnson County High School Players in collaboration with Johnson County Community Theatre, are bringing the Tony Award winning, Broadway musical “The Addams Family” to Heritage Hall. In the kooky, upside-down world of the Addams family, to be sad is to be happy, to feel pain is to feel joy, and death and suffering are the stuff of their dreams. Nonetheless, this quirky family still has to deal with many of the same challenges faced by any other family, and the spookiest nightmare faced by every family creates the focus of Lippa, Brickman, and Elice’s musical: “The Addams Kids Are Growing Up.” The Addams’ have lived by their unique values for hundreds of years and Gomez (Derek Visser) and Morticia (Megan McEwen), the patriarch and matriarch of the clan, would be only too happy to continue living that way. Their dark, macabre, beloved daughter Wednesday (Abigail Arnett), however, is now an eighteen-year-old young woman who is ready for a life of her own. She has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke (Connor Long), a sweet, smart boy from a normal, respectable Ohio family — the most un-Addams sounding person one could be! And to make matters worse, she has invited the Beinekes (Scott Loveless and Josie Ward) to their home for dinner. In one fateful, hilarious night, secrets are disclosed, relationships are tested, and the Addams family must face up to the one horrible thing they’ve managed to avoid for generations: change.
Assisted by nine Addams family ancestors plus Uncle Fester (Travis Ward), Pugsley (Andrew Robinson), Grandma (Kaelyn Sussex) and Lurch (Zach Isaacs) the stage comes alive with song and dance. Performances are at Heritage Hall, October 20, 21, 27 and 28 at 7pm and October 22 at 3pm. Advance adult tickets are $10, $12 at the door and student tickets are $5.

The Field School was a beginning farmer training program

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

The Field School, East Tennessee’s beginning farmer training program, is launching its third year of programming in November!  They are currently recruiting new and beginning farmers for their program.
The Field School is a monthly series of workshops (November 2017 through August 2018) that provides you with an overview of small-scale farming in East Tennessee’s mountains and valleys, taught by 20+ farmers and agricultural professionals.  It is arranged by the Appalachian RC&D Council, Green Earth Connection, and many area partners with major support from USDA.  F
ield School students attend classroom and on-farm sessions to build the knowledge, networks, and confidence for planning out a farming operation to fit their land and business needs.
After two successful years of running the Field School, we are pleased to announce that we are expanding the session options to include two Tracks.  Students can choose from either Produce or Small Livestock and dive deep into specific farming operations and production methods.
Can’t decide which track to take or want to attend them all?  You can sign up for the Dual Track option and attend all 13 sessions being offered!
Field School Students Can:

*   Tap into the knowledge of seasoned farmers and Ag professionals from across the region.

*   Meet like-minded people who also want to take their passion for farming to the next level.
*   Learn how to connect with the local food scene, with government resources, with new ideas, with markets for farm products, with proper laws and legal guidance.
*   Experience different farming styles and see behind the scenes on area farms through field visits and classroom presentations taught by “real” farmers, including several full-time farmers.
Registration fees for the “Produce” and “Small Livestock” track is $75 each and consists of 9 monthly sessions.
The “Dual Track” allows participants to attend all 13 sessions and costs $100.  There are limited spots in the ‘17/’18 Field School.  To reserve yours, you must fill out the online application<> and send in payment.  The fee includes curriculum materials and a meal at each session.  More information and the on-line application can be found at the following website:
Three full Scholarships are available for Veterans, so please call 423-979-2581 or email<> if you qualify.  The cost of the Field School is subsidized by grants from USDA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Appalachian Regional Commission, and local Business Sponsors.

Johnson County 4-H hosts horse clinic

The Johnson County 4-H hosted a Horse Clinic on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at Chamber Park. The horse clinic offers a safe and fun environment for students to engage in hands on learning, without having to own a horse. This year 17 students attended our clinic which focused on teaching students to safely interact with horses while learning how to groom, saddle, lead a horse, the importance of colors and markings and how a horse’s senses are different from a human’s.

Following the clinic, students could exhibit their horse in an assortment of classes during our show. This year we had 3 lead-liners and 4 students entere the various classes to exhibit their horses’ athletic ability in a variety of disciplines.
All of our exhibitors this year did a wonderful job showing their horses. In Addition each of the participants displayed exceptional sportsmanship for one another. The show results are as follows:

Lead Line:
Joyce Ann (JoJo) Aldridge
Katelyn Jones
Ella Ruth Simcox

Halter Conformation: 1st Megan Rice
2nd Emaline Cornett
3rd McKinzie Jones
4th Bud Robinson
5th Katelyn Jones

1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Bud Robinson
3rd Megan Rice
4th Katelyn Jones
5th McKinzie Jones

Western Pleasure 2-Gait:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Megan Rice
3rd McKinzie Jones
4th Katelyn Jones

Western Pleasure 3-Gait:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Katie Simcox

Western Horsemanship:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Katie Simcox
3rd Megan Rice
4th McKenzie Jones
5th Katelyn Jones

1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Megan Rice
3rd Katie Simcox
4th Katelyn Jones

Barrel Racing:
1st Katie Simcox
2nd McKinzie Jones
3rd Katelyn Jones

Pole Bending:
1st Katie Simcox
2nd Katelyn Jones
3rd McKinzie Jones


The Johnson County 4-H would like to thank all the volunteers, parents, coaches, students and supporters that worked together to make this event a success.

Linda Walraed, en plein air artist, paints the beauty of the flowers in the mountains

Linda Walraed, who owns a vacation home in Callalantee in Johnson County, is an artist who paints en plein air, a French term for in open air. According to Walraed, the flowers she paints came from seed she cast out in the spring.
“With the rains we have had, our flower garden has certainly produced gorgeous flowers and put on a grand show.  We have many butterflies, bees and birds that visit the garden daily,” she said.  “I am painting in an impressionist style of cosmos, spider flowers and zinnias. My dog, Tiffany Rose is a constant companion and loves to go out on location with me.”
Her favorite medium is oils using panels.

HGTV comes to Johnson County in search of a secluded log cabin for featured family

By Paula Walter

Home and Garden Television, better known as HGTV, recently sent a film crew to our own Johnson County to film a segment of the show, Log Cabin Living. The upcoming episode is entitled Tennessee Homestead Cabin. Set your DVR, as the show will be aired November 11th at 11:00 pm. According to a recent press release, some of the filming for the show was done in the Pioneer Landing area of Johnson County.
Log Cabin Living focuses on finding log homes for those people who want to escape the craziness of city life and are seeking peace, quiet and privacy in a rural setting. Some of their past episodes including finding a home in Blue Ridge, Georgia with a view of the Appalachian Mountains, a family searching for a cabin and a yard for the dog facing the mountains on the island of Oahu, and a couple searching for a get-away cabin in Wisconsin away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago. The show has also focused on finding cabin home in western North Carolina, Montana, the Alleghany Mountains, Fredericksburg, Virginia, northern Minnesota and the Smoky Mountains.

In this episode set in our own Johnson County, a family of three who love the outdoors are looking for a secluded cabin. The family enjoys hunting and foraging for wild mushrooms. They also repair, modify and build guns. Their budget is $550,000 and they are hoping to find that special log cabin for their family that includes private flat land to homestead.
Make sure to check your local listings to verify the Tennessee Homestead Cabin show time.


Representative Timothy Hill supports Tennessee’s education and students

(NASHVILLE) — Throughout the first half of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly, Representative Timothy Hill supported legislative initiatives focused on education benefiting both the state’s educators, as well as Tennessee’s students.
In 2017, Hill and his Republican colleagues passed a balanced budget that includes $200 million in funding for the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP). This funding includes $100.4 million for teacher salaries across the state. Over the last two years, the Tennessee General Assembly has made the largest investment in K-12 education in state history without raising taxes on the backs of hardworking Tennesseans.

Hill fought to support the educational dreams of our National Guard members without fear of financial struggle by sponsoring the Tennessee STRONG (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) Act. The legislation establishes a four-year pilot program for eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard to receive a last-dollar tuition reimbursement toward a first-time bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, he supported passage of the Tennessee Reconnect Act. This plan offers all Tennessee adults without a degree access to community college tuition-free and at absolutely no cost to taxpayers. With the passage of the Reconnect Act, Tennessee becomes the first state in the nation to offer all citizens — both high school students and adults the chance to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees.

Lastly, Hill worked to enhance transportation safety for Tennessee students by supporting passage of House Bill 322. This legislation requires all school districts, as well as charter schools to appoint a transportation supervisor to monitor and oversee student transportation. The supervisor must receive annual training and also implement a school transportation policy adopted by the local board of education.
It requires all new school bus drivers to complete a driver training program and also increases the minimum age for individuals seeking to obtain a school bus operator endorsement license from 21 to 25.
“When we invest in our teachers, support the educational outcomes of our citizens, and ensure the safety of our children, we are taking the appropriate steps in order to ensure that Tennessee continues to thrive,” said Representative Hill. “It truly is an exciting time in communities across our state, and I look forward to furthering our work of making Tennessee a model of success that our entire nation can follow.”

Timothy Hill serves as House Majority Whip. He is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules, House Transportation and House Insurance & Banking Committees, as well as the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee. Hill lives in Blountville and represents House District 3, which includes Johnson and part of Carter and Sullivan Counties.
He can be reached by email at: or by calling (615) 741-2050.

Farmers Market finds a permanent home at Ralph Stout Park

By:  Jana Jones

Johnson County Farmers Market Manager

Since its founding in 2009, the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) has been looking for a place to call home. We are grateful to Danny Herman for allowing us to use his Quonset hut by Rainbow Road and Highway 167 for the first three years, and to the county for allowing us to use the courthouse parking lot for the last six years.

These locations have served us well as the community has supported us in good weather and not so good weather. But we have longed for a permanent, covered space to call our home that would allow customers to shop out of the rain and ease vendors’ fears of their tents being blown away by wind gusts that can occur out of nowhere here in the mountains.

The JCFM will be celebrating 10 years in 2018 and we are thrilled to announce that Mayor Kevin Parsons and the Town of Mountain City, with the help of the JCFM, will be applying for two grants through the USDA Rural Development Department to build a pavilion at Ralph Stout Park that will be used as a permanent home for the Farmers Market! Architect and engineer, Eric Nordmark, has designed a beautiful timber-framed pavilion and will be working with general contractor, Alan Hammons, to gather bids for the project. Pictured is Nordmark’s pencil sketch front view and aerial view that was revealed at our Harvest Celebration Dinner last Saturday.

Aside from Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, the proposed pavilion will mainly be used as an additional picnic shelter for the community and will be available to reserve for special events. The design is made up of two 30’X50’ buildings set at an angle that are attached in the center by the roof structure covering. The location at Ralph Stout Park will be behind the existing stage in the grassy area below 421.
Should the grants be fully funded, we are estimating that construction could commence as early as March 2018. Since we don’t expect the building to be completed at the start of our 2018 season, the JCFM vendors will set up tents in the vicinity of the stage area until our new pavilion home is completed.

But for the remainder of our 2017 season, the JCFM is located at the county courthouse parking lot across from the post office in downtown Mountain City, open every Saturday from 9 until noon through the end of October. We accept SNAP/EBT and currently have a program that doubles the dollars for fresh fruits and vegetables for our EBT customers.

Follow us on Facebook to keep abreast of new items offered each week, or visit us online at Johnson We welcome all to come enjoy live music, kids’ activities, sample recipes and all of the great items offered by our terrific farmers and vendors at every market!


It’s Scarecrow on Main time!

It is not too late to reserve a lamppost on Main Street for the annual Scarecrows on Main event.  Anyone can call 423-727-8005 or come by city hall at 210 South Church Street for more information.  There is an application fee of $30 which will provide you with a fodder shock, hay bales, mums, and pumpkins. Scarecrow exhibit dates will be from October 7th through the 31st. Prizes will also be awarded so get busy designing your unique and creative scarecrow. Let’s all work together to make Main Street as festive as possible.
The town is proud to sponsor this event as it brings many people here from all around the tri-cities.  The influx of tourism dollars from this event help local businesses grow as well as helping the town and county through much needed sales tax revenue.


State Attorney General expresses deep concern about Equifax data breach

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today expressed in a letter to credit reporting firm Equifax his deep concern that the personal information of over 3 million Tennessee residents has been stolen by unauthorized individuals, leaving consumers vulnerable to identity theft and financial loss. In doing so, he added his voice to those of several other attorneys general who recently wrote to Equifax with similar concerns.
General Slatery encouraged Equifax to “take all possible steps to help consumers access any rehabilitative services easily and efficiently” and advised Equifax of the frustration that many consumers are experiencing when they contact Equifax or visit its website. General Slatery also strongly encouraged Equifax to focus on free credit monitoring as opposed to any fee based credit monitoring so consumers are not confused into thinking they must pay for a service that is being offered for free.
Additionally, while appreciative that Equifax will be reimbursing consumers who paid a fee to freeze their Equifax credit reports as of September 7, 2017, the date the breach was announced, General Slatery urged Equifax to extend the free credit freezes past the current deadline of November 21, 2017 and to reimburse fees paid by consumers for security freezes by other credit reporting agencies.
“It is distressing that this massive breach leaves consumers exposed to financial and other harm. Consumers need to be vigilant about regularly monitoring their financial accounts and credit reports, and Equifax must actively assist consumers in those efforts,” General Slatery said.
Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said, “The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs supports this effort by General Slatery and other attorneys general on behalf of consumers across the country.”
Consumers can access helpful tips at the FTC website, located at

‘Scarecrows on Main’ time

It’s time for “Scarecrows on Main.” The Town of Mountain City is sponsoring “Scarecrows on Main” and applications are available at City Hall, 210 South Church Street, from now until October 6th. There is an application fee of $30 which will provide you with a fodder shock, hay bales, mums, and pumpkins. Scarecrow exhibit dates will be from October 7th through the 31st. Prizes will also be awarded so get busy designing your unique and creative scarecrow. Let’s all work together to make Main Street as festive as possible. For more information, call 423-727-8005.

Farm to Table Harvest Celebration this Saturday

The Johnson County Farmers Market is hosting the first annual Harvest Celebration Dinner to be held September 23.  Tickets are still available at the Johnson County Welcome Center or at the Farmers Market Saturday mornings for $35 for a 4 course Mediterranean themed meal with live classical and folk music.
Call 423-677-2222 to reserve your ticket or for more information.  Vegan and gluten free options are available.

Encouraging the world one painted rock at a time

By Paula Walter

You may have noticed small brightly painted rocks with encouraging messages around Johnson County lately. It’s all part of The Kindness Rock Project, an endeavor to promote random acts of kindness across the country.
According to Tonya Townsend of Johnson County, the Kindness Rock Project began when Megan Murphy from Cape Cod painted just one rock. Her parents had died when she was young and Murphy still missed them every day. She would walk the beach every day looking for a rock-shaped heart for her father and a piece of sea glass for her mother. She had not intended to start the Kindness Rock Project until she hid her first rock on the beach that she had painted, adding kind and encouraging words. It so happened a friend of Murphy’s found the rock and had been experiencing a bad day, until she found the rock.
Townsend started a local Facebook group to share messages of comfort and optimism called Color Mountain City (Johnson County) after running across a nearby group, Damascus Rocks. Color Mountain City started with just a few participants, but has grown in size to approximately 250 members, with more members added daily. Currently, about 30 members are active in bringing smiles to people around the county. The rocks are not only painted and hold a special message, but often you can find the name of the group on the back of the rock. Those finding the rocks will take a picture and post it in order to let the group know one of their rocks has been found. Sometimes people will hide the rock they found again and pass the message along for someone else to find, or they may decide to keep it as a souvenir.
According to Townsend, there are a few simple rules the group should follow. “First, this is a kindness project,” she said. “So everyone be kind, keep the rocks family friendly, don’t take unpainted rocks from private property, businesses or government property unless you have permission from the owners. Also, please don’t hide rocks in the grass or anywhere that can cause damage to equipment or cause someone to fall.” She stresses writing your name or the Facebook group you are connected with on the back of the rock and seal the rocks with a paint sealer. The group tracks where the rocks end up. Additionally, there are those who put their own personal name or hash tag on the rock. “We track our rocks with our group name on the back of them and some people also add their own personal hash tag on their rocks,” Townsend said. “ That way if someone that is visiting finds any of our rocks and takes it back to their home place that’s 200 miles away, and they hid it there another person visiting that area finds that same rock and takes it even further away. That’s what we call our traveling rocks. As long as the finder posts the rocks to our page or the page written on the back of the rock, then we can keep track of where our rocks are at.”
Some of the rocks bearing messages of encouragement have been left at Ralph Stout Park, on Main Street, both inside and outside stores and restaurants. One woman who works at the Abingdon Walmart found one of the group’s rocks outside the store. “I found a pretty big flat rock outside the Church I attend, Mountain City Church of Christ. It had all kinds of different beautiful pattern,” Townsend said. “ I started looking more closely and it was a three-d rock with Jesus kneeling down. It was beautiful.”
According to Townsend, its best to wash the rocks off first before you begin painting them. If the rock has deep holes or any place that needs filling, use wood filler and sand the excess off. You then apply Mod Podge on every rock as it makes it so much easier to paint and draw on. It keeps the paints or sharpie pens from running. Finally, after the rocks have dried, spray a paint sealer on them to keep the paints from washing off in the rain.
This activity encourages families and friends to spend time together. ”Together we can help turn the world back to God by spreading kindness and help make it a better place again. It’s so much fun getting together as a family, church group, friends or even alone painting, hiding, finding, hiding the rocks again and posting about the rock,” said Townsend.

Credit agency breach affects 143 million Americans

By Paula Walter

This past week, Equifax, one of three credit reporting agencies, recently announced hackers were able to obtain personal information, including names, social security numbers and other identifying information, from an estimated 143 million Americans. This amounts to approximately half the population of the United States. In this recent breech, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 people and documents containing personal identifying information for an estimated 182,000 were also stolen.
Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are the three credit reporting agencies in the United States. These companies gather information on individuals that are used to determine credit scores for millions of people across the country. Information is obtained from names, addresses, social security numbers, date of birth, driver’s license and even credit card information.
With this breach of personal information, anyone who has ever applied for credit or had credit could be affected. Farmers State Bank has posted information on their website to assist you in the event your personal information has been obtained in this latest hack. They offer suggestions to help protect yourself and your credit, including enrolling in Equifax service. Due to the breech, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for one year, regardless if your personal information was compromised or not.
“Keep an eye on your bank account regularly to check for fraudulent transactions,” said Clifford Mahala, Vice President and Security Officer for Farmers State Bank. Pull up your credit reports from all three agencies, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to access a free credit report from each credit monitoring company once a year. “Monitor credit reports, banking accounts and watch out for scams related to the breech,” Mahala stated. “Don’t click on any links from emails, but go directly to the browser. Online banking and mobile banking are beneficial because it gives you the opportunity to look at your accounts anytime.”
Johnson County Bank’s online home page offers contact information should you be a victim of identity theft or fraud, or lost or stolen credit cards. Contact numbers for Johnson County Bank can be found in case of a stolen or lost debit card, along with phone numbers for the bank, Social Security Administration, as well as Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. To help in the fight against identity theft, when you open an account at Johnson County Bank, you will be asked for your phone number, address, date of birth and other identifying information. You may also be asked to produce your driver’s license or other identifying documents.
Brad Reece, Executive Vice President at Johnson County Bank, also stresses the importance of reviewing account activity on statements your financial institutions send you. “If something looks wrong, don’t hesitate to question it,” said Reece. “Additionally, many customers use on-line banking tools to manage accounts. If transactions have occurred that appear suspicious, customers can take action considerably earlier than waiting to notice it on a statement in an effort to prevent future losses.”
Those who steal identity information use the information they have to access your credit cards and your personal information. They may open credit cards and other accounts in your name, pretending to be you. This may be something you are unaware of until you are contacted by a company regarding a late payment or you notice charges on a credit card bill. Make sure to check your credit reports for any discrepancies, such as credit cards you didn’t apply for, or the wrong information on your credit report, missing money from your bank or inquires from companies you have never heard of contacting you regarding your credit. “The idea of identity theft is a scary thought,” said Reece. “Criminals take advantage of every angle they can to illegally benefit from others in society, and the recent issue at Equifax unfortunately will undoubtedly aid them in these unethical endeavors. The Federal Trade Commission has some excellent suggestions for those who are looking to take actions to safeguard their information and are concerned with the potential that it may have been compromised.”
Placing a security freeze on your credit report should prevent any new accounts being opened in your name. If you decide to go this route, you need to contact each of the credit reporting agencies. Creditors will not be able to offer any new credit, keeping identify thieves from opening false accounts in your name. If you decide to apply for new credit, you would have to contact all three companies to lift the freeze.
Additionally, a fraud alert could be placed on your accounts, requiring all creditors to check your identity before opening up any new credit cards or even increasing your credit limits. If you place a fraud alert with any of the credit reporting agencies, they are required to notify the other two credit agencies. An initial fraud alert is good for 90 days, but can be renewed. An extended alert is also available for victims of identity theft for a period of seven years. This differs from the initial fraud alert in that creditor must contact you to determine that you indeed are making the request.
To see if your personal information has been compromised, go to Farmers State Bank website, and click the banner at the top of the page. At the bottom of the page is a link where you can obtain information directly from Equifax as to whether your personal credit information has been compromised. There are also links that will take you to the Federal Trade Commission’s web page, as well as information on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.



Johnson County Humane Society rummage sale Sat., Oct. 7th

Johnson County Humane Society annual rummage sale. Profits to help provide spay/neuter vouchers for dogs and cats and free shots for dogs. Saturday, Oct. 7th, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 1923 S. Shady St. (Hwy 421) Mountain City, TN. Bring your clean, working, usable items to the armory Oct. 2nd until Oct. 5th from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Oct. 6th from 9 a.m. until noon. For more information call 423-727-2566 or 423-727-9886.

Johnson County Farmers Market finds this Saturday

On Saturday, September 16th we’ll have all cuts of grass fed beef, pasture raised chicken eggs, pasture raised pork (pork chops, bacon, hot Italian sausage, brats, pork roast), grapes, apples, blackberries, raspberries, TOMATOES, several varieties of green beans, okra, summer squash, butternut, cushaw and spaghetti squash, romaine lettuce, scallions, kale, leeks, onions, garlic, sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, potatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, spinach, arugula, collards, broccoli and fresh herbs.  Our bakers are French bread, jalapeño loaves, whole wheat bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, several flavors of croissants, Asiago garlic bread, tarts, Danishes and  muffins.  We’ll also have homemade jams and jellies, granola, apple cider vinegar, raw organic sauerkraut, lotions, jewelry, stained glass, hand painted crafts, wood carvings, and more!  Come enjoy music by Randy Dandurand and friends!

The Johnson County Farmers Market is open each Saturday from 9 to 12 at the county courthouse parking lot. 

Heritage Hall news

Saturday, September 16 at 7:00 p.m., “The Magic of Smiles” starring Dr. Gary Flegal! Known as Tennessee’s Premier Magical Entertainer, Nashville magician Dr. Gary Flegal brings his passion for creating special magic moments to Heritage Hall Theatre. Presenting Family Entertainment at its best, Dr. Flegal is an award-winning magical entertainer who can transport you to another time and place to escape the stresses of modern life. His performances have been called “charismatic, professional, and truly dynamic,” “the best we ever had,” and “a rare find in today’s sophisticated world.” Sponsored by Mountain City Funeral Home, Mountain View Nursery & Landscaping, Mullins Real Estate & Auction. Adult Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door – Youth Tickets: Get 1 FREE youth ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket, additional youth tickets are $5.
Thursday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m., Hee-Haw’s LuLu Roman with Chosen Road (with special guest The Johnson County JAM Program), a gospel bluegrass performance. Chosen Road is one of the busiest groups on the bluegrass scene, working as many as 250 dates each year, taking their message of forgiveness to music lovers all across the US. Tickets are $12 at the door – open seating. Presented by
Next up at Heritage Hall: Sunday, Sept. 24, 3:00 p.m. – Barter Theatre’s “Ghost, Ghost, Come Out Tonight” – A Barter Theatre original world premiere murder mystery thriller. By Catherine Bush

Winter squash tasting at the Farmers Market

By Jana Jones

Have you ever heard of kabocha squash? How about sweet dumpling squash? Or Turk’s Turban? Or acorn squash? Most of us have at least heard of spaghetti squash and butternut squash. There are several wonderful varieties of winter squash that so many of us have never tried because they are not commonly offered in the grocery store. If that is the case for you, let me tell you what you are missing out on!
Other than being incredibly beautiful, winter squash is packed full of cancer fighting nutrients including beta-carotene and carotenoids as well as a great source of vitamin A, C, potassium and dietary fiber. Their thick skin gives them the ability to be stored in a cool, dark place through the winter. The most common way to cook winter squash is to cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and bake, roast or steam them until the flesh is soft. You can enhance their sweetness with brown sugar or all-natural maple syrup, or highlight their savory taste by rubbing the flesh with cut garlic, brushing with olive oil and adding seasonings like rosemary, sage or thyme. Once cooked, they are great in recipes such as stuffed squash or added to stews or pureed into soups! Each variety has its own special qualities.
This Saturday at the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) you will have the opportunity to sample several varieties and diverse recipes of winter squash. (Pumpkins are also included in the winter squash category) We have three vendors offering samplings: Greiber Family Farm, Brown’s Farm, and Harbin Hill Farm. Come and sample soups, pies, and a variety of healthy, delicious side dishes. Sarah Ransom, our County Extension Consumer Science Agent, will also be at the market with a sampling table and recipes to hand out.
We still have a few tickets left for our First Annual Farm-to-Table Harvest Celebration Dinner. Just call 423-677-2222 to reserve your tickets or pick them up at the Johnson County Welcome Center. This will be a fabulous 4 course Mediterranean themed evening with live classical and folk music held at the Roan Valley Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Saturday, September 23 at 6pm. Reservations for full tables of six or eight are still available. Tickets are $35.
I will leave you with one of my favorite winter squash recipes. You can use butternut squash, pumpkin, kabocha, acorn or any of the orange flesh winter squash for this recipe.
Honey Roasted winter squash with cranberries and feta cheese
1 large butternut squash, peeled + chopped (or equal amount of another winter squash)
a hearty drizzle of olive oil (approx 1-2 TBSP)
salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
2 cups fresh cranberries
2-3 TBSP honey (or extra, to taste)
1/4 cup finely crumbled feta
ground cinnamon, to taste
fresh or dried parsley, to garnish, optional
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly drizzle or spritz a baking sheet with olive oil.
Add cubed squash to the sheet along with another drizzle of olive oil.
Sprinkle with a light layer of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, based on taste preference.
Roast at 400 F for 25 minutes on the center rack.
At the 25-minute mark, pull out the oven rack, and add your fresh cranberries to the roasting pan.
Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cranberries have started to soften and burst a bit, resembling really juicy craisins vs fresh firm cranberries.
Remove from oven and add a sprinkle of cinnamon (approx. 1/8-1/4 tsp depending on preference) along with feta and honey. I listed the honey measurements I used, but depending on whether you used fresh cranberries or dried, sweeten to taste.
Garnish with parsley for a burst of color and dig in while it’s hot!
The JCFM is located at the county courthouse parking lot across from the post office in downtown Mountain City. Open every Saturday from 9 til noon from May through October. We accept SNAP/EBT and currently have a program that doubles the dollars for fresh fruits and vegetables for our EBT customers. Follow us on Facebook to keep abreast of new items offered each week. Or visit us online at We welcome all to come enjoy live music, kids’ activities, sample recipes and all of the great items offered by our terrific farmers and vendors at every market!

Bees are some of the most important creatures on earth

By Christy Erickson and Jana Jones
Think about your last meal. What did you eat? If you ate a balanced meal with vegetables, fruits, and even some meat, you should take a moment and thank a bee. Bees are among nature’s best pollinators and much of our food production system depends on their hardworking nature. Without them, the world would look very different (and probably a lot worse). Here’s why bees are so important and what you can do to help them.
Pollination occurs when the pollen from the anther (male part) is transferred to the stigma (female part) in plants of the same species. The wind, bats, insects, birds, and other animals aid this process. Bees, however, are the most perfect pollinator and account for the majority of food crop pollination around the globe.
Bees are thought to pollinate around 70 of the top 100 crops. Not only that, but bees help to pollinate foods that grazing livestock eat like clover, so at least some part of your dairy and meat consumption can be directly linked to bees. About one out of every three bites of food you eat has been pollinated by a bee.
And we haven’t even mentioned all the delicious honey produced by honeybees…Now that you understand the massive importance of bees, what can you do to help? Bees are facing tough times over the past couple of decades, as food shortages, climate change, habitat destruction, and industrial pesticide use has shrunk populations around the world. There are things you can do right now to help both local bee populations and those working to pollinate your food around the world.
First, try to buy organic when at all possible. According to a study published in USNewswire entitled “The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health,” organic farming not only helps to reduce risk to bee populations but actually helps to increase them as well. The main reason is that organic farming exposes bees to fewer if often no toxic pesticides, which is one of the leading causes of bee decline. Organic farming practices also impact bees’ habitats less. By buying organic, you are supporting farming techniques that help protect bees. Buy local honey. For many of the same reasons that organic farming is good for bees, local, smaller apiaries practice techniques that are better for bee populations. Consuming local honey has been known to help with pollen-induced allergies. When you eat honey that is produced in the region that you live, you ingest small amounts of pollen, which then acts as a homeopathic remedy by desensitizing your system to that allergy.
Finally, you should consider creating a bee-friendly garden in your own backyard. You don’t even have to have a lot of space. Clustering flowers together is better for bees than spreading them out, so growing in an urban environment with planters, window boxes, and stacked gardens is just fine. When planting a bee garden, do your research to see what kinds of plants bees prefer. Bees love fragrant, colorful flowers (purple, blue, white, and yellow the most) and while honeybees aren’t that picky, native bees love native flowers. Here is a list of flowers that bees love to get you started – Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, lilac, clover, mint, sunflowers, bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, hostas, zinnias, sedum, asters, and the daisy family. When building that garden, make sure to involve your kids. Not only is it a great way to get them out in nature, but by teaching them about bee gardening at an early age you can instill a sense of responsibility for the health of bees in them. We as a society need our future generations to carry the torch to help save these vital animals. Bees may not simply be one of the most important animals on the planet, they might just be one of the most important things in general. It’s not alarmist to say that the bees are in trouble, and anything you can do at home to help protect their populations will be a boost to the environment at a local and a global level.
September is when beekeepers start collecting honey from their hives. We should start seeing more honey offered at the Johnson County Farmers Market soon. But they have limited quantities, so make sure to stock up on your local honey for the year!
The JCFM is located at the county courthouse parking lot across from the post office in downtown Mountain City. Open every Saturday from 9 til noon from May through October. We accept SNAP/EBT and currently have a program that doubles the dollars for fresh fruits and vegetables for our EBT customers. Follow us on Facebook to keep abreast of new items offered each week. Or visit us online at We welcome all to come enjoy live music, kids’ activities, sample recipes and all of the great items offered by our terrific farmers and vendors at every market!
Our guest author, Christy Erickson, is an amateur beekeeper, backyard gardener, and educator. More information can be found at her website