The Encore Theatre Company

Today we’re spotlighting a community of artists in our neck of the woods.

Enjoying life in East Tennessee isn’t just about relaxing and taking in the sights. Many people who choose to live here work hard to make it a better place for themselves, their neighbors and their children. The Volunteer State was Tennessee’s nickname long, long before The University of Tennessee was ever dreamed up, and for good reason! People here aren’t afraid of hard work, and there are many communities that set out to prove it. Today we’re spotlighting a community of artists in our neck of the woods that helps bring together those with a love of the dramatic arts.

The Lakeway Area is known for many things: farms, lakes (of course), being the “back door” to the Smokies. But a local group of artists wanted the area to be known for more than that. They noticed that more and more artists and creative people were going out of town to practice their craft, and this was dismaying. They had a mission to provide a supportive environment for established and aspiring actors. This group of visionaries became the Encore Theatrical Company.

They believe that the economic health of an area correlates directly with quality of life, and quality of life is intricately linked to the state of arts in the area. So, in 2006, they set about to improve the quality of life in the Lakeway Area for everyone, with a thriving arts scene!

The ETC offers live, local performances throughout the year, as well as classes and workshops for kids and adults. Find out more about their mission, performances and classes here.

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At the end of this month, ETC is performing a drama at the Rose Center in Morristown. Here’s the description of the play from ETC:

“Encore Theatrical Company’s newest play tells the story of a photojournalist and her war reporter boyfriend as they decide where to take their relationship after several tours of duty. From the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies, Time Stands Still is both funny and moving.

One of the masters of contemporary American theater brings us Time Stands Still. Donald Margulies’ outstanding script tells the story of Sarah, a photojournalist recuperating from a tour in the Middle East, and James, a foreign correspondent seeking a change of venue. Both are trying to find their happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy. Telling tough stories about the world at large collides with the story they have to tell about themselves and their relationship to work and to each other. Now they face tough choices about their future. Can they live a conventional life and still keep a sense of right and wrong, not to mention their sanity?”

Performances will be on April 21-30 in Rose Center’s Prater Hall. You can order tickets at 423-318-8331 or find out more at etcplays.org. Don’t forget to check out Rose Center for more arts events and information.

Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com if you’d like to learn more about relocating to the Lakeway Area.

Uncommon Attractions

If your ideal vacation includes the road less traveled, read on to find out more!

If you’re considering a move to East Tennessee, or you’re a recent transplant, you might be looking around with the question, “What is there to do around here?” This blog has lots of suggestions for close-to-home attractions in the area, but sometimes you’re in the mood for a day trip.

You’re probably well aware of Tennessee’s popular tourist destinations. Dollywood and all the bright lights of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, music galore in Nashville, Chattanooga’s #1 ranked outdoor adventure culture … all these might sound familiar to you.

But there are a few lesser-known attractions in our fair state. We checked out this page on TNVacation.com and pulled out a few. If your ideal vacation includes the road less traveled, read on to find out more!

Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend

825 Caverns Rd.
Townsend, TN 37882
Phone: 865-448-2274
Townsend is considered by many to be the “back door” to the Smokies. Its pace is much quieter, but there are a few cool attractions there. Like the Tuckaleechee Caverns! These caverns, nicknamed the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” are reported to be 20 to 30 million years old. You can take a guided tour to view these caves on lighted walkways. Check out the website to find out more.
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Back Door to the Smokies

Lost Sea in Sweetwater

140 Lost Sea Road
Sweetwater, TN 37874
Phone: 423-337-6616

Just in case you didn’t get enough of caves, Lost Sea in Sweetwater has you covered. The tour involves an underground boat-ride. If that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will! The tour takes about and hour and fifteen minutes, and you can hang out in “Old Sweetwater Village” to get your above-ground legs back after. Visit their website for details.

The Salt and Pepper Shaker and Smoky Mountain Spices in Gatlinburg

461 Brookside Village Way Winery Sq.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Contact Email:

andrea@ludden.com

Phone:

865-430-5515

Toll-free:

20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers. There’s only one other place like it in the world: The Salt and Pepper Shaker sister museum in Spain! Give this place a try, even if you’re not a collector. The entertainment value might surprise you! To find out more, visit the website here.

Briarwood Ranch Safari Park in Bybee

A small, family-run affair, this drive-through safari is great entertainment for families with small kids. Though most of the time you’ll be in the car, collecting nose-prints on the windows from exotic beasts, there is an opportunity to get out at the end, to feed some of the animals, get a snack for yourself and let the kids play a little. It’s a cool opportunity to see exotic animals right here in East Tennessee! Check out the Facebook page to learn more: www.facebook.com/BriarwoodSafari.

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You don’t need a jeep for the drive-through safari!

These are only a few of the lesser-known attractions in our area. Tennessee is full of unique and creative characters, so be prepared to bump into unusual things during your visit!

As always, contact us if you want to find out more about real estate in East Tennessee! The website is DarleneReeves-Kline.com, and we’re always happy to answer your questions.

Merry Christmas 2016

The tradition of the Volunteer State still lives. The Smokies Strong movement proves it.

With Christmas just hours away, we thought it was time to reflect on the year and send our warm wishes. Traditionally, the year-in-review is more of a New Year’s thing, but guys, this one’s been a heck of a year.

2016 has been tumultuous, but it’s important to remember the good things along with the bad. It was a year of divisive politics, but also of the Olympics. Our own corner of this great country was ripped apart by devastating wildfires in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the small tourist town of Gatlinburg. Lives, homes, businesses and jobs were lost. It was the worst natural disaster in East Tennessee in generations.

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But our community rose up to support the survivors, some of whom are without homes this Christmas. Organizations like The Red Cross helped to shelter and feed fire refugees, but that’s only one small part of the story: hundreds of individuals and small businesses across East Tennessee chipped in to provide water and Power Bars to firefighters. They rounded up and donated pajamas, food, toiletries and sundries to survivors.

The movement started small but, supported by our own Dolly Parton, it grew to hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief. It’s called Smokies Strong. You can still participate by buying t-shirts, and all the proceeds go to wildfire relief and rebuilding efforts.

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We call Tennessee the Volunteer State, and most people think that means football. The nickname started in the War of 1812 or the Mexican-American War, depending on which historian you ask. Thousands of Tennesseans stepped up to defend the country. The tradition of Tennessee Volunteers shows the bravery and “get the job done” attitude of our state’s sons and daughters and today, the tradition of the Volunteer State still lives. The Smokies Strong movement proves it.

This time of year, we reflect on our bounty with gifts and generosity, the wonder in our children’s eyes and good food in our bellies. We also hope it’s a time of love, of peace, of goodwill toward men. Enjoy your families, rejoice in fellowship and eat one more piece of pie.

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Merry Christmas, East Tennessee!

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Savoring Fine Wines in East Tennessee

Whether or not you’re interested in growing your own grapes, you can sample East Tennessee’s delicious bounty in a wine tour.

The Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area is bursting with vacation ideas and entertainment for every member of the family. Dollywood and Splash Country, miniature golfing, the strip at Gatlinburg…all these offer hours (days!) of fun, especially if you’re making memories with your children.

For those who want to get away from the noisy tourist destinations, there is always The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with miles and miles of hiking and backcountry backpacking waiting quietly for your exploration. There are other natural attractions in the area, too; white water rafting on the Big Pigeon river is just minutes away from Gatlinburg. Ober Gatlinburg offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter and other fun attractions in the summer. (Visit obergatlinburg.com to find out more.)

But there’s another side to Sevier County that’s really coming into its own lately: fine wining!

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Due to its humid and temperate climate, East Tennessee was once well known for its vineyards and wineries until Prohibition in 1919 (see www.tennesseewines.com/history for a brief history of wine culture in Tennessee.) Most people are familiar with moonshining that came after that, and the backwoods racing to outrun the revenuers that spawned the sport that is now known as NASCAR.

But now, wine is back on the menu in East Tennessee! Some of our vineyards have been back in business for decades, and many others are newly flourishing in our area so uniquely suited for growing grapes. See this informative publication from the University of Tennessee for information about growing grapes in our area.

Whether or not you’re interested in growing your own grapes, you can sample East Tennessee’s delicious bounty in a wine tour.

The Four Rivers Wine Trail includes Blue Slip Winery (in Knoxville), Eagle Springs Winery (in Kodak), Richland Vineyards, Spout Spring Estates, (both in Blaine) and The Grape Barn at Nolichucky Vineyards (in Russelville). Visit their website for more information.

The Rocky Top Wine Trail includes six wineries open for tastings and tours, all on hwy 66/441 between Kodak and Gatlinburg: Eagle Springs Winery (Kodak), Hillside Winery (Sevierville), Apple Barn Winery (Sevierville), Mountain Valley Winery (Pigeon Forge), Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery (Gatlinburg), and Sugarland Cellars (Gatlinburg). These wineries have even partnered with Elite Limo Tours if you need a designated driver.

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Visit rockytopwineries.com/wine-trail for links and directions.

Once you have chosen your favorite bottle (or bottles!), take it home to savor the flavors of the warm sun, gentle breezes and nourishing summer storms. The Rocky Top Wineries participate in a wine club, with significant member discounts. Learn more by clicking here: rockytopwineries.com/wine-club.

If you’re not a local yet, you can always rent a chalet in Sevier County. Visit here or here to search for accommodations. And, of course, should you fall in love with the area and want to start looking for your own place to call home in East Tennessee, visit darlenereeves-kline.com for listings and information.

Jefferson City: Past and Present

Jefferson City, like many places in East Tennessee, is very proud of its storied history.

Jefferson City, like many places in East Tennessee, is very proud of its storied history. The area served as a springboard for many prosperous businesses, and some local families can trace their lineages back to before this great country could even call itself a country! Union forces marched through during the Civil War, leaving marks in the destruction of buildings and legends passed down for generations since. Old Time Saturday is coming up, a festival dedicated to celebrating community. Come out if you can; it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the area’s history. While you’re here, swing by two of Jefferson City’s great landmarks: Carson-Newman College and Glenmore Mansion. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Old Time Saturday

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No town in Tennessee is complete without a fall festival! Jefferson City is no different; each year in October locals and visitors alike come out to celebrate Old Time Saturday. There are vendors selling crafts, food, curiosities and delights. There is people-watching aplenty as families come out to mingle and celebrate some of the last warm weather of the year. Maybe best of all is the live music, including fiddle-sawing kids and dancing in the street. Please visit the Jefferson County website for more information.

The Old Time Saturday Facebook page can be found here: www.facebook.com/OldTimeSat.

This fun festival is a great chance to wander around historic Mossy Creek, where old brick buildings and shady roads still speak of history.

Carson-Newman College

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Carson-Newman College is celebrating its 165th anniversary this year (2016). In 1851, the institution opened its doors as the Mossy Creek Baptist Seminary, but it only kept this name for five years; in 1856 it became Mossy Creek Baptist College. The college shut down during the Civil War, when it was overrun and damaged by Union soldiers. Eventually, the name of the college was changed to honor a local trustee (J.H. Carson) and when it merged with a nearby college for women (Newman College) the name finally morphed into the one we know and love today: Carson-Newman College. The college is active in the Jefferson City community, especially in the revitalization of the Mossy Creek area, which we discussed in an earlier blog. Please visit www.cn.edu for more information about the school, including community events.

Glenmore Mansion

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The historic Glenmore Mansion, in the Mossy Creek district, has graced the hill on what is now called North Chucky Pike since 1868. It was lived in by two families who were prominent in local business: the Branners and the Jarnagins. Saved from the auction block in 1970, the mansion has undergone several phases of restoration. It is a beautiful piece of preserved history. There are periodic community events at Glenmore,  as well as private parties and weddings available by appointment. Tours are available on weekends from May to October. Call (865) 475-5014 for more information or visit glenmoremansion.com.

Not everything in Jefferson City is about the past; revitalization efforts are helping the city to grow day by day. The new festival park being constructed in Mossy Creek is just one example of this. Visit The Citizen Tribune to learn more about it.

Visit darlenereeves.com for listings and information about Jefferson City.

Tiny House Vs. Fixer-Upper

While I applaud the reasons that most people have for getting a tiny house, I think there are other alternatives that are not quite so tiny.

There has been more and more discussion of the tiny house movement in recent years, among sites like blogs, Facebook and Pinterest. What is the tiny house movement?

The website TheTinyLife.com has this to say:

“Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.”

The tiny house movement takes the concept of downsizing to the extreme. But why does it seem so appealing? The website explains:

“The most popular reasons include environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom. For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; this translates to 15 years of working over your lifetime just to pay for it, and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.”

Click here to read more about it.

Basically, the appeal of a tiny house is that it costs less and takes less time to build and maintain. There is also a minimalist mentality that goes with the tiny house life. You can’t have too many things, because you don’t have the space to stuff it. For many people, it’s mentally and spiritually freeing to give up the majority of their stuff.

Plus, the tiny houses getting churned out nowadays are cute.

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Courtesy of CountryLiving.com

While I applaud the reasons that most people have for getting a tiny house, I think there are other alternatives that are not quite so tiny. Living with other people and pets can make living in 100-400 square feet hard.

What About a Fixer-Upper?

One common feature of a tiny house is that it is built off-site and towed to your lot, which is a) convenient in some ways, but b) turns your house into what is essentially a trailer. What this means is that your tiny house exists in a gray area where it might actually depreciate in value as it ages, much like a house-trailer. (A house built on solid foundation, if properly maintained, appreciates in value over time.)

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Courtesy of thefarmersnest.com

An alternative to this problem is to buy a small fixer-upper property and, well, fix it up. By saving what you can of an older home you save money and keep a significant amount of materials out of the landfill (or from just rotting into the ground from neglect.) The property also gains a huge jump in equity (what we call sweat equity) by virtue of having been improved, so your cheap property is now worth a whole lot more.

As for financial concerns regarding maintaining and heating/cooling the home, there are a multitude of options on the market today for solar power, wind power, even water power. In our lovely, mountainous region there is plenty of fuel for wood heat. Insulation has come a long way, as have windows and efficient appliances. In fact, many of the things that make “tiny houses” so appealing can be (and frequently are!) adapted into a good old solid-foundation-ed house.

Your fixer-upper doesn’t have to be a huge house! It can still be small, and you can still make the move toward giving up an excess of material things and simplifying your life. One more thing: fixing up an existing house can sometimes give the surrounding neighborhood a real boost. You’d be surprised at the social impact you can have with the simple act of fixing the front porch and painting the house. Sometimes that’s all it takes to nudge your neighbors into doing the same for their houses.

To discuss tiny houses vs. fixer-uppers, or to view properties in our lovely East Tennessean area, please visit www.darlenereeves-kline.com.

 

Lifestyle in Grainger County

Grainger County is a rural paradise for those who want the peacefulness of country life, but also want to be close enough to cities like Morristown and Knoxville for big-town conveniences.

Bordered by Cherokee and Norris Lakes, with plenty of woods, creeks, and farmland in between, Grainger County is a rural paradise for those who want the peacefulness of country life, but also want to be close enough to cities like Morristown and Knoxville for big-town conveniences. Taxes are low here, as well as land and home prices. Agribusiness is making a big comeback in Grainger County, too. The land is bountiful, yet still close to consumers in more populated areas.

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The area is steeped in history; Tate Springs, in Bean Station, was once valued for its healing springs. Bean Station, founded by one of the area’s earliest settlers, is the site of the civil war battle named after the town. In Rutledge, the Grainger County seat, you can see a replica of Andrew Johnson’s tailor shop in front of the court house. He worked there briefly in the years before he became President of the United States. For more information about Grainger County, click here.

Wineries,  Vineyards and Local Farms

Tennessee has a long legacy of growing grapes and making wine. After Prohibition, and then the ebb and flow of farming economics, Tennessee wine fell by the wayside. Now, it’s making a comeback with small vineyards sprouting all over Northeast Tennessee. Here are two near the town of Blaine, in Grainger County:

Spout Spring Estates is a pleasantly surprising winery perched atop a ridge with commanding views 360 degrees around! They host free wine tastings during business hours, as well as weddings and other events. Visit spoutspringestates.com to find out more.

Richland Vineyards grows grapes for many local wineries. You can also visit the vineyard to pick your own fruit, and taste the wines made at different vineyards from grapes grown just steps away! Visit www.tennesseewines.com/richland_vineyards.htm to find out more.

Several family-operated farms in the area sell produce to local grocery stores and farmers markets.

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Red Barn Farms, located on Highway 11W, offers everything on site from fresh produce and eggs, to family events such as the corn maze. They even have a tractor tire jungle gym in front of the barn! Check their Facebook page for more information.

Grainger County Park

When you’re on your tour of local agribusiness, take a moment to stop in at the Grainger County Park. It’s surprisingly lovely, with play structures for kids, walking paths and the perfect picnic spot: high on a hill with a splendid view of Cherokee lake spread out below.

Grainger County Tomato Festival

Tomatoes are among the most popular vegetables in the country…did I say vegetable? I meant fruit, because, officially, that’s what a tomato is. Did you know that there are over 25,000 different kinds of tomatoes? You can learn these facts and so many more about the delicious, nutritious tomato at the Grainger County Tomato Festival! It’s held every summer in the last full weekend of July. The festival started in 1992 as a way to bring the community together and celebrate and promote Grainger County Tomatoes which, as locals know, are the best around.

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Admission is free. The festival features tomato wars, races, local artists and artisans, food, and even free music!   Visit www.graingercountytomatofestival.com for more information.

For Grainger County Listings, please visit www.darlenereeves-kline.com. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions!