Hay Bale Contest Added to Heritage Festival

Hay Bale Contest Added to Heritage Festival

UT Extension Union County and Union County Business & Professional Association are teaming up to "Hay Bale Union County". The Hay Bale Contest is open to all businesses, organizations, groups, and schools. Decorate your business or set up a display that is viewable from a roadway. Entries will be judged on eye appeal, use of space & materials, creativity, and adherence to theme. The theme of the 2017 Heritage Festival is “Come Here, Come Home.”

Chamber Sponsors Photo Show for 2017 Heritage Festival

Photography Contest

The Union County Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the Photography Show for the Heritage Festival.

The contest for amateurs only will provide pictures of Union County to be used in promoting Union County as a tourist destination. Photographers may enter one photo in each category: “Come here,Come home”, Union County People, or Union County Places.

Thunder Road Author Rally Revs Engines for Sept. 9

A favorite event is cruising back to Maynardville Public Library Saturday, Sept. 9. The fifth Thunder Road Author Rally will run 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day. The event is free to the public and to authors wishing to set up booths.

Maynardville Library Director Chantay Collins said the rally has been a huge success and has filled a need. It started when library employee Jessica Raley joined Knoxville Writers Guild. Around the same time, Chantay and Raley went to an independent author event in Knoxville.

Youth and Corn Festival is a Hit for Second Year

Union County 4-H students entered vegetable dishes featuring corn in the Youth and Corn Festival.

The Union County Farmers Market got "corny" last Saturday with the second annual Youth and Corn Festival. The festival celebrates...you guessed it...Union County's youth and that special time of year when the corn comes in. Huff Farm was on hand with corn for sale, and there were corn-related activities aplenty.

Winning the Corniest Joke Contest was a young man identified only as "Tim." Winning the Corn Shucking Contest for age 6 and older was John March Schwarzen. Michelle Phillips won the day's door prize.

Mattress Makings

As a part of the “New Deal” programs of the mid to late 1930s, mattress-making workshops were organized and conducted at local churches and elementary schools across Union County. Each family could make enough mattresses for all the beds in their household. This was a federal government program through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The particular mattress-making I attended with my sister, Johnnie Heiskell Merritt, and our mother, Elsie Seymour Heiskell, was at Raccoon Valley School. This school had been built by the Works Progress Administration and opened about 1938.


I like greens. especially in the spring. After a winter of potatoes, carrots and such, I am ready for a change. Of course, the first greens to be had are dandelion greens. I remember looking for dandelions in the tall grass along sides of the fields on our farm. They were the best. There was no road salt on them from the winter. They grew tall competing for sunlight with the grass. Armed with a sharp knife and a half bushel basket, I would cut a basket full. Then back to the house to clean and rinse and cook and eat.

Union County 4H Hay Bale Decorating Contest

Union County 4H  Hay Bale Decorating Contest

Hello Union County 4-H Members, Friends, and Family, Welcome back to school and a new year with Union County 4-H! Decorating a hay bale at the TN Valley Fair has become a long-standing tradition with Union County 4-H Members. This year, we have one opportunity to decorate ONE hay bale for our county. Therefore, we will have a contest among different Union County 4-H Groups to win the County Idea Contest. In many years past, we have had Honor Club, Hog Club, Horse Club, Smoky Mtn Club all want to decorate a hay bale.

All grown up, the Valley Boys keep singing

Jeremiah Ray, Dillon Hurst and Timothy Ray are the Valley Boys.

If you, like most of Union County, have an "I remember when" story about the Valley Boys gospel group, it probably involves seeing three kids who could be triplets, singing a cappella gospel music with the gusto of guys twice their size. My own involves seeing the boys at the Union County Historical Society back in 2008 and taking their picture for the weekly newspaper.

Lemonade Anyone?

In my more than twenty years working on Union County history I’ve heard lots of stories. The following is one that is new to me. First, notice the note that this information was received by “long distance telephone” to the Knoxville Journal and Tribune on July 26, 1902.

Fried Corn

I like fresh sweet corn. I remember eating sweet corn in the summertime back when my kids were in grade school. There would be a big kettle of salted water boiling on the stove. The ears would be dumped in and the water brought to a boil again. Taken out and piled on a platter, it was ready to eat. We had fun eating corn. Remember the old manual typewriters? My kids and I would play "typewriter" and chomp our way across a row of kernels. No, we didn't go "ding!" at the end of the row. Now, that was good eating.

Re-surfacing the walking trail at Wilson Park

Wilson Park Maynardville Tennessee

The county received a grant (RAHHABE GRANT: Rural Access to Health and Healthy Active Build Environments) from the Department of Health of Tennessee. MPA Director Charles Turner presented the grant opportunity to County Mayor Williams. The county applied and we received the grant. The walking trail was in need of repair so the county contracted the County Hwy Department and B & C Paving to do the job. The paving was completed on August 3. We hope this will inspire more people to come out to the park to enjoy family time together.

Chamber Seeking to Fill President Position

Union County Chamber of Commerce

The Union County Chamber of Commerce is seeking to fill the position of President of our Chamber of Commerce. Overall responsibilities include serving as Chief Executive Officer of the corporation, overseeing daily operations, serving as ex-officio of all committees. A bachelor’s degree in economic and community development, and experience in grant writing and marketing is preferred but not required. Background checks and fingerprinting may be required for certain grants.

Nikki Riddle is Tennessee Small Farmer of the Year

Out Highway 61 between Maynardville and Luttrell, there's a small farm winery founded on a big dream. That dream belongs to Nicole "Nikki" Riddle, owner of The Winery at Seven Springs Farm. She leased 44 acres for a vineyard and winery from her parents, Donna and Rick Riddle, and opened the winery in 2015. Her fiance, Michael Coombs, is part of the winery as well.

Grainger County Gets Tennessee Historic Marker

Jean Underwood Fox and Harry Fox presently own the Albert Miller Lea farm at Richland, and this is the 209th anniversary of Mr. Lea’s birth. What a birthday gift, a Tennessee Historic Marker, presented by Mr. and Mrs. Fox. They have begun working with Grainger County Historian Ken Coffey to have Richland: Albert Miller Lea Farm placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is the tenth historic marker to be placed in Grainger County. Mr. Marvin House, who restored the Richland Mill, was also helpful in this process.

Fried Eggs on Toast

Fried Eggs on Toast

My dad was of the old school. His home was his castle and he was in charge! My, how times have changed. Nowadays, mom works, too. The family doesn't gather around the supper table anymore. Every member of the family has his own agenda. When I think about the old days, I'm talking about the thirties and the forties. One thing, especially, comes to mind: "Fried Eggs on Toast." That was my dad's breakfast from as long as I can remember. Oh, there might be pancakes, French toast or whatever, but "Fried Eggs on Toast" was a given.

Union County Farmers Market Meet the Farmer: Floating Axe Farm

Floating Axe Farm began a year ago when Christopher and Heather Schwarzen moved to Halls with their 9 children. There, they own a farm with a couple of acres of land. The name Floating Axe has a biblical meaning, from 2 Kings 6:1-7. They grow a variety of produce organically, including cucumbers, beans, squash, lettuce and pumpkins and hope to grow popcorn in the future. They also raise meat rabbits and are in the process of raising goats for milk and meat. They hope to expand their farm each year as they continue to grow.

Farmers Market Expands to Chapel, Adds Activities

Here's some great news for folks in Sharps Chapel. The Union County Farmers Market is coming to you with fresh, local produce, noon to 2 p.m. every Wednesday, at the Sharps Chapel Senior Center.

"We have tossed it around for awhile," said Beth Bergeron of UT Extension. "We realized that there were some regulars (from Sharps Chapel) that we hadn't seen in two years. Apparently, Saturdays are not good for that particular community."

Bergeron said the Wednesday market will continue in the Chapel as long as there is interest.

Keith Williams--Machinist/Toolmaker by Training; Preacher by calling; Fiddlemaker by choice

Who’d ever thunk it? This Horace Maynard High School Class of 1976 graduate has already been successful in three careers. Young as he is, he may add to those. Reverend Keith Williams worked for a number of years as a Machinist/Toolmaker. When he became a full time pastor he, of course, gave up that job. Keith is the son of A. J. And Betty Williams of Tater Valley, where he grew up. His father taught Keith to play fiddle when he was just about 13 years old, but he didn’t become a serious fiddle player until he was 20. He did not attempt fiddle making until about four years ago.

What ever happened to Dr. Baker?

Some of you might be too young to remember Dr. Baker or the TV show that made his character famous. It was called, Little House on the Prairie, and if you’re not familiar with it, look it up on Netflix. It’s family-friendly viewing at its finest.

Up until around the middle of the 20th century, most rural communities had a Dr. Baker who treated everyone from infancy to death. They made house calls, delivered babies, set broken bones, and many times even doubled as veterinarian for farm animals.

Union County Farmers Market Meet the Farmer: Joe's Garden

Joe’s Garden is owned by Joe Kitts. Joe is from Union County and grew up with a family of seven that all pitched in on the family farm. Joe often reflects on his memories from his childhood. His garden is located by the Union County Board of Education. This is a perfect example of community in Union County. Joe says thanks by planting his favorite peas and offers a variety of other vegetables, such as cantaloupes, watermelons, potatoes, beets, corn, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, beans, squash, peppers, pumpkins, and onions.

Jacob Jake Franklin Butcher

Jake Butcher

Jacob “Jake” Franklin Butcher passed away on July 19, 2017 at the age of 81 after a courageous battle with cancer. 

Jake was born May 8, 1936 to Cecil H. Butcher, Sr. and Kate Walters Butcher in the rural town of Maynardville, Tennessee. Jake attended Maynardville High School and later the University of Tennessee and Hiwassee College.  After college, he joined the United States Marine Corps serving primarily in Korea, Japan and Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.  Jake always held the Marine Corps close to his heart.  He married Broadway actress and Oak Ridge native Sonya Wilde in 1962 and together they had four children, Maria (Randy) Loyd, Scarlett (Tim) Current, Brad (Leigh Ann) Butcher and Jason (Ashley) Butcher.  Jake and Sonya also have 8 grandchildren, Kendall Loyd White, Austin Loyd, McCall Current, Joshua Current, Colby Butcher, Katelyn Butcher, Jace Butcher and Olivia Butcher, and 2 great grandchildren, Abigail and Judah White.  During his long life, he treasured his family and they all adored him.

This Ain't His First Rodeo (but it is his second)

One year ago, folks who knew and loved the Red Gate Rodeo were holding their breath to see if the Union County Rodeo could fill the void. They were not disappointed, and Union County Rodeo will ride again this weekend, July 21 and 22, at 874 Hickory Star Road.

Dr. Jared Graves, veterinarian at Union County Animal Hospital, was approached by Wes and John Stalans of Spur'n S Rodeo Company last year about hosting the rodeo when the new owners of the Red Gate Farm property declined. Graves agreed to host the rodeo on a Hickory Star Road farm that has been in his family since 1882.

Lois Johnson Entertains at Johnson Reunion

Descendants of Lotillie “Tillie” and Merry New Year “Mollie” Chesney Johnson, as well as descendants of Gordon “Gordie” Johnson and the Esker Johnson families, gathered the evening of March 25, 2008 at the B&G Grill for a wonderful family reunion. After the buffet, the crowd was treated to entertainment by Lois Johnson and her cousin, C. J. Morgan. Many of you will remember Lois, Horace Maynard High School Class of 1959. Lois is the daughter of the late Fred and Iretta Butcher Johnson.

Union County Farmers Market Meet the Vendor: Fall Creek Apiary

Fall Creek Apiary was started by Richard and Pat Hunt. They are beekeepers and own 8 hives, which hold about 60,000 bees each. They are originally from Florida and moved to Tennessee to retire. They harvest their honey from spring to July, to bring delicious, local honey to our market. They hope to continue increasing their bees to have a total of 25 hives. Stop by their tent at the market and you will meet Richard and their son John. They would love to educate you on beekeeping and honey.

Job Openings

Union County Tennessee

Affidavits being accepted for Road Commissioner in the 6th district.
Please pick up necessary papers at Union County Clerk's Office.

Affidavits being accepted for County Commissioner in the 2nd district.
Please pick up necessary papers at Union County Clerk's Office.

Remembering Irene Hamilton

L to R:  Daughter Betty Bullen, Irene Hamilton and Son Robert Hamilton at her party.

I was just thinking about Irene today and wanted to include this audience in reading what I wrote about Irene back in 2008.
Irene Tolliver Hamilton celebrated her 90th birthday at a grand party given by her daughter, Betty Hamilton Bullen, on Sunday afternoon, October 26, 2008, at the Optimists Building in Maynardville.

County, Chamber Partnership Brings State Grant Success

Union County Chamber

A partnership between Union County government and the Union County Chamber of Commerce has reaped rewards this summer. In April, Union County Mayor Mike Williams' office and the Chamber applied for an asset enhancement grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic Development, a grant program aimed at helping counties identified as "distressed" by high unemployment rates, low per capita incomes and other factors.

Mothers Gingerbread

Howdy! I will be offering some of my favorite recipes for awhile. I am Shirley McMurtrie and I have been in Tennessee about 30 years. East Tennessee is just about the best place to live. The climate is great, the country music is great and, best of all, the people are great. This is home.

Kids "Build a Better World" at Summer Reading

Kids build with Legos at Maynardville Public Library's Summer Reading.

It was the year 2000 when Chantay Collins first held Summer Reading at Maynardville Public Library. The program, aimed and keeping kids reading during the summer months, started with just 20 kids. This year, participants will top 300, and those kids have clocked more than 10,000 hours of reading so far.

“It’s just snowballed,” said Collins, who is the director of Maynardville Public Library. “We went from having it in the library to next door in the Senior Center because we have so many kids.”