Nutcracker returns for 46th season

KNOXVILLE, TN – The Appalachian Ballet Company will present the annual holiday tradition – The Nutcracker in their 46th anniversary season. The production features live music by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. The Appalachian Ballet Company will present four public shows December 2nd at 7:30 pm & December 3rd at 3 pm at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium AND December 8th at 7:30 pm and December 9th at 3 pm at the Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville. Two school matinees (includes K-8 curriculum guide covering common core standards) will be presented at 10 am at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium on Nov. 30th and Dec. 1st.

Dancing the role of the Nutcracker Prince will be dancer David Ward who trained at English National Ballet School and most recently danced with Ballet Met in Ohio. This international guest artist will be partnering ballerina Laura Morton, the Sugarplum Fairy, formerly with The Atlanta Ballet. This year’s production will include several new pieces of choreography featuring guests artists Addison Ector from Complexions, a New York based dance company, as the Snow King and Jeff Wolfe as Herr Drosselmeyer. Owen Scarlett from Chicago will dance the role of the Arabian Prince. New sets, props and costumes will bring the charming and spellbinding production to life.

For over 100 years, this classic story has proven to be a favorite, enchanting audiences of all ages. Come see the magic with lavish scenery, glorious tutus, soldiers, snowflakes and sugar plums at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium or The Clayton Center for the Arts – the first and second weekend of December. Photo submitted.

For tickets visit

IJAMS receives $10k donation

Knoxville, TN – The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation located in Lake Forest, Illinois, has donated $10,000 to Ijams Nature Center, Inc., in support of the nonprofit nature center’s new Nature Preschool, which is scheduled to open August 2018. The preschool will focus on helping children to develop a solid foundation for lifelong learning, while cultivating a love of nature that will serve as the basis for a conservation ethic later in life.

“This grant will allow Ijams to prepare the Miller Building and its grounds on the Ijams family’s original home site to become a place for children ages 3-5 to explore and learn about nature,” said Amber Parker, Ijams Executive Director. “Our goal is for these preschoolers to spend 80 percent of their time outdoors. Part of this grant will be used to purchase desks, chairs and supplies, but the majority will go toward funding a nature play area and renovating the building’s deck to provide a space for outdoor education activities. We are extremely grateful to The Grainger Foundation for its generosity.”

The new Nature Preschool will offer a morning and an afternoon session five days a week for up to 18 children per session. Ijams also plans to offer a morning-only Nature Preschool Summer Camp prior to the school’s fall opening to allow younger children to experience an age-appropriate version of its Nature Adventure Day Camp.

Ijams will host open houses Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, and Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. for individuals interested in learning more about the new Nature Preschool, 2018 summer camps and other activities at the nature center.

This donation was recommended by Renee Trexler, Operations Manager of W.W. Grainger, Inc.’s, Knoxville location. Grainger has been a part of the Knoxville business community for more than 60 years as the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products. “We are proud to recommend the Nature Preschool program at Ijams Nature Center,” Trexler said. “We understand the need to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people of all ages to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences.”

The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, Illinois, was established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities, and walks of life. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking, and more. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8:00 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit or call 865-577-4717.

Ijams Nature Center received $10,000 from The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation, in support of the nonprofit nature center’s new Nature Preschool, which is scheduled to open in Fall 2018. This donation was recommended by Renee Trexler, Operations Manager of W.W. Grainger, Inc.’s Knoxville location. Pictured from left are W.W. Grainger, Inc. Operations Manager Renee Trexler, Ijams Education Director Jennifer Roder, W.W. Grainger, Inc. Sales Specialist Jeff Stewart and Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker. Photo submitted.

Ice Skating season begins

KNOXVILLE, TN – Outdoor Ice Skating in downtown Knoxville begins November 24, 2017 and runs through through January 7, 2018. Guests can skate day and night, seven days a week, at the open-air ice rink nestled under twinkling lights in the middle of Market Square.

You’ll find music, 160,000 pounds of ice, and great people watching. Special appearances by Peppermint Panda, the ice-rink mascot, will add to the skating and photo fun.

November 24 thru December 17
Mon-Thurs: 4pm-9pm
Fri-Sat: 10am-10pm
Sun: 1pm-9pm

Extended Hours December 18 thru January 7
Mon-Thurs: 1pm-9pm
Fri-Sat: 10am-10pm
Sun: 1pm-9pm

Admission price includes entry fee, skate rental and unlimited time on ice. The venue accepts cash, Visa and Mastercard. Brand new skates have been purchased for 2017 season.

Adult: $11
Children Age 12 & Under: $8

Season Pass Adult: $50
Season Pass Children Age 12 & Under: $35


Visit for more details on admission, holiday hours, special events, and weather updates.

Local Puppet Theatre adds Hip Hop

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – This December 7-10, 2017, Cattywampus Puppet Council and the Good Guy Collective will present their first collaborative theatre piece at Modern Studio titled, What the Water Tells Me. Through hip-hop, puppetry, and dance, What the Water Tells Me follows two children’s journeys to adulthood as they navigate the changes that occur in their home town and within themselves, when a large utility company threatens the waters that raised them. This collaborative and innovative show has involved many hands throughout its creation and has truly become a community art project. Four performances will be offered during the four day run and each will feature an audience “talkback” session afterward.

Thursday, Dec.7th-Doors 7:30pm, Show 8pm “Pay What You Can Night”- This donation-based show is open for everyone to attend regardless of funds. Tickets will only be sold at door. Cost: Suggested Donation ($10-$20)

Friday, Dec.8th- Doors 7:30pm, Show 8pm “Hip-Hop & Puppets Night”-This evening will also include several local hip-hop acts after the show. Cost: $15

Saturday, Dec.9th- Doors 7:30pm, Show 8pm “Puppet Dance Party”- This evening will include a DJ’d Puppet Dance Party after the show. Cost: $15

Sunday, Dec. 10th- Doors 2pm, Show 2:30pm- “Family Show”- This matinee will be geared towards kids and will include a free puppetmaking station open from 2-2:30pm. Cost: Kids 2 & under (FREE), Kids 3 & up ($10), Adults ($15). Ticket price includes puppetmaking.

For more info about the show, visit our facebook page What the Water Tells Me. To buy advance tickets, please visit:

Cattywampus Puppet Council is a registered non-profit in the state of Tennessee and fiscally sponsored by Community Shares. CPC gathers and imagines stories inspired by nature and the human experience in the South East to bring people together. Through workshops, public art, performances, and parades, CPC seeks to promote play and community-based storytelling as integral to our individual growth and the health of our communities. CPC believes art accessibility invigorates an individual’s sense of ownership and power within community.

Good Guy Collective’s mission is to empower young creatives to find the best version of themselves and build community through the culture of Hip-Hop.

Awards celebrate East TN history

The 2017 East Tennessee Preservation Awards winners have been announced. The event followed the 2017 East Tennessee Preservation Conference and was held in the Riggio-Lynch Chapel, designed by award-winning architect Maya Lin. The East Tennessee Preservation Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations, and projects contributing to the protection of East Tennessee’s heritage. This year, the following were recognized for their contributions:

The Tanner Store in Wartburg has occupied a place of importance on the Courthouse Square since it was built in 1906 to house a bank. John Everett and Maude Williams Tanner purchased the building in 1923 and opened the Tanner Drug Store and Restaurant. It has remained in the Tanner family since that time and at one point was the oldest continuously run family business in Tennessee. Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places,
the building had fallen into disrepair. The community of Wartburg has rallied to repair and stabilize the structure. Many volunteers have contribute time and/or money to restore the parapet and trim work, fix the leaky roof, and re-glaze windows.

Artist Wendy Leedy from Bean Station uses her talent to help preserve Grainger County’s history. With 60 published calendars to her credit, her drawings of significant historic sites in the county have graced calendars for Citizens Bank and now the Grainger County Historic Society. The 2018 calendar features iconic local structures such as the National Register Nance House in Rutledge, the long-abandoned Dotson School built in
1904, and the original Grainger County Courthouse that was destroyed in 1946.

Senator Ken Yager has been a valued supporter of historic preservation in his district for many years. Most recently, Senator Yager secured an appropriation of $100,000 for repairs to the Oliver Springs Depot. The landmark structure was featured on the 2017 East Tennessee Endangered Eight list. Built in the 1890s, the structure houses the community’s library and local history museum.

The former 52 acre National Register District of Morristown College buildings were demolished by the City of Morristown in 2016 to make way for a new public park. In an effort to preserve the history of the school, the Holston Methodist Conference and Morristown Task Force on Diversity joined forces to produce a video highlighting images and stories from former students. The video is available on YouTube and has been shown at
community events and civic club meetings.

The Oak Grove School located in the Sharp’s Chapel community of Union County was featured on the East Tennessee Endangered Heritage list for many years. It is one of only 30 remaining Rosenwald Schools in Tennessee. The two-room schoolhouse was built between 1917 and 1929 and served a variety of purposes until the early 1960’s. In recent years, Preservation Union County has led efforts to restore the building. The grassroots effort has shown the power communities can have in preserving their historic structures. The School will become the home to Preservation Union County and serve as a hub for community activities.

McKayla Floyd, an 18-year-ol Sevierville Girl Scout, and some friends took the lead in cleaning up the long neglected Esslinger Cemetery on Douglas Dam Road. It started with making the grave of Revolutionary War
2 soldier William M. Robertson accessible once again and grew from there. Upon hearing from the local American Legion that the condition of the cemetery made placing a flag on Robertson’s grave on Memorial Day impossible, Floyd sprang into action. The young preservationist recently enlisted in the U.S. Navy and earned her Girl Scout Gold Award from the Esslinger Cemetery project.

The University of Tennessee’s Facilities Services Complex is an adaptive reuse of a 90,000 SF industrial facility in Knoxville’s Marble City neighborhood. Once a nationally recognized marble-processing plant, the building now serves as the home of the University’s Facilities Services Department. Extant features like riveted steel framing, hardwood planking, and a silo were maintained. The project has garnered awards from American School and University magazine and from the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Zack Taylor is a “genealogy detective” known for researching African-American history in Jefferson County. Zack took the lead and worked with A.M.E. Zion Church in New Market to restore the burial grounds there. It unveiled a portrait of New Market’s African-American history. Burial began in the cemetery in 1891 and includes the grave of a woman who witnessed the New Market Train Wreck of 1904 and another born into slavery in 1853. It is the final resting place of at least one Civil War soldier. Zack and other volunteers have cleared brush, positioned military markers, placed tombstones, and extensively researched the cemetery’s history.

Barry Thacker and Carol Moore know about youth engagement and that understanding the stories of a community’s past can impact the people of today. What started as an idea to clean up Coal Creek to improve trout fishing, grew into an expansive community initiative that engaged youth in new ways of discovering and preserving their history, including restoring Militia Hill, creating the Coal Creek Miner’s Museum and history trails, establishing historic markers and listing sites on the National Register. As founders of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Barry and Carol have provided multiple college scholarships to Rocky Top area students and reconnected them to their East Tennessee and Welsh heritage.

Park celebrates Foothills Pkwy link

GSMNP -Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials recently hosted a celebration for the bridging of the Foothills Parkway’s ‘Missing Link.’ Lane Construction Company of Charlotte, NC recently completed a seven-year project to design and build five bridges at a cost of $48.5 million. This marks the first time that vehicles can travel the entire 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway extending from Walland to Wears Valley, TN.

“We are excited to mark another milestone in the completion of this spectacular section of the Foothills Parkway,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “With the missing link now bridged, we look forward to finishing the final paving and then opening the roadway to the public by the end of next year.”

Construction of the 16-mile section of Foothills Parkway began in 1966. Most of the roadway was completed by 1989 when the project came to a halt due to slope failures and erosion during construction of the last 1.65 miles – known as the ‘Missing Link.’ The engineering solution included the construction of nine bridges to connect the roadway in an environmentally sustainable manner. These last five bridges mark an important milestone by completing the ‘Missing Link.’ Since 1966, $178 million has been invested in this 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway spanning parts of Blount and Sevier Counties. Photo: GSMNP.

“The Lane Construction Corporation is proud to have completed this complex signature project safely with significant support from the local community,” said Lane Construction Corporation District Manager Tom Meador. Since 2010, approximately 250 Lane Construction Corporation and subcontract team members have worked on the project.

Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Division Engineer Melisa Ridenour and Lane Construction Corporation District Manager Tom Meador joined National Park Service representatives to commemorate this monumental achievement.

Knoxtravaganza announces line-up

The Knoxville Performing Arts Exchange (KPAX) announces the lineup for Knoxtravaganza, a local performing arts talent showcase at Modern Studio on Saturday, November 18 starting at 6pm:

Einstein Simplified
Theatre Obsolete
Full Disclosure Comedy
Kelle Jolly
Knoxville Theatre Club
Cattywampus Puppet Council
Juniper Stinnett
Uncensored & Origins (spoken word)

Speed painter Tracey Rowe Crocker will create paintings live as inspired by the performances, which will be available for purchase.

KPAX invites the general public to enjoy FIVE HOURS of the shiniest, the finest and the brightest stars of Knoxville’s performing arts scene. Theatre, dance, puppetry, poetry and much more! Only $5 at the door, +$2 to BYOB (21+). The $2 corking fee is waived with the purchase of advanced tickets.

KPAX supports local performing artists by providing the basic infrastructure and utilities (e.g. stage, lighting, and sound) in a stable, supportive environment combined with audience convenience and comfort. These provisions allow performing arts groups of all types and experience levels to focus more of their resources and efforts on artistic quality, enabling them to expand their audiences, and by extension, their programming. KPAX is overseen by Carolyn Corley as part of Modern Studio, a flexible entertainment venue providing the basic infrastructure and resources for performing arts groups to engage, excite and inspire Knoxville audiences.

Modern Studio is a flexible, mixed use maker & performing arts space located in Happy Holler (north Knoxville) that provides support & space to local entrepreneurs & artists.

Sundress reading series continues

Knoxville, TN–Sundress Academy for the Arts is pleased to welcome Jasmine An, Penny Guisinger, and Denton Loving for the November installment of the reading series. The reading will take place 2-4 p.m. Sunday, November 12, at 2017 Hexagon Brewing Co., located at 1002 Dutch Valley Dr STE 101, Knoxville, TN 37918. The Sundress Reading Series is free and open to the public.

Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. She has also lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, studying language, urban development and climate change, and blacksmithing. Her chapbook, Naming the No-Name Woman, won the 2015 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize and her next, Monkey Was Here, is forthcoming in early 2018. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in HEArt, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Southern Humanities Review, and The Blueshift Journal, among others. She is a Hedgebrook alumna, and a PhD student in English & Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.

Penny Guisinger is the author of Postcards from Here. Her work has appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Guernica, the Brevity blog, Solstice Literary Magazine, and others. Pushcart nominated, a Maine Literary Award winner, and twice named a notable in Best American Essays, she is the director of Iota: Conference of Short Prose and an assistant editor at Brevity. Penny is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Program.

Denton Loving is the author of the poetry collection Crimes Against Birds (Main Street Rag). He is also the editor of Seeking Its Own Level: an anthology of writings about water (MotesBooks). He teaches at Lincoln Memorial University, where he co- founded the annual Mountain Heritage Literary Festival and drafthorse: the literary journal of work and no work. His fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews have recently appeared in River Styx, CutBank, The Kenyon Review, and The Chattahoochee Review.

The Sundress Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series that is held monthly at 2 p.m. at Hexagon Brewing Co. just outside of downtown Knoxville. For more information, Email

Orchid Awards nominations sought

KNOXVILLE, TN – Keep Knoxville Beautiful is now accepting nominations from the public for its beautification awards, the Orchids. Since 1979, Keep Knoxville Beautiful has presented Orchid Awards to Knoxville and Knox County buildings and outdoor spaces that beautify and elevate the local landscape.
Orchid Awards will be granted in the following six categories:

New Architecture
Outdoor Space (Parks, Patios, Rooftop Gardens, Neighborhoods, etc.)
Public Art (Murals, Sculptures, Signage, etc.)
Environmental Stewardship (Properties that incorporate renewable materials, energy efficiency, LEED certification and/or other sustainable building practices)

Anyone can nominate a location or outdoor public artwork by completing a simple online form on Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s website,, or by calling the office at 865-521-6957. Private residences are not considered for this award. Properties that received an Orchid Award since 2008 are ineligible, except in cases of major renovations.

For a list of previous winners, visit the Keep Knoxville Beautiful website. Nominations are due by Friday, December 18, 2017. Keep Knoxville Beautiful will announce the winners of the beautification awards at the annual Orchids Awards Dinner on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 6:00 at The Standard, 416 W. Jackson Avenue, downtown Knoxville.

For more information, contact Keep Knoxville Beautiful at

Enjoy candlelight tours this season

KNOXVILLE, TN – Marble Springs State Historic Site is proud to present Christmas Candlelight Tours on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Guests will experience the historic site through the soft glow of candle light. The historic buildings will be decorated with fresh greenery and lanterns. Music, open hearth cooking, baked goods, and warm drinks will set your heart aglow with holiday spirit.

Programming assistance for this event is provided by Knox County. Marble Springs is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission, and supplemented by additional funds raised by the Governor John Sevier Memorial Association. All activities take place at Marble Springs State Historic Site, 1220 West Governor John Sevier Highway, in Knoxville.

Admission is a suggested $3 donation. For more information please call (865)573-5508, email, or visit the website at