Just 30 days, and the streets of Jonesborough will turn back in time as the Washington County, Tennessee Heritage Fair will return on Friday, September 3rd and Saturday, September 4th. Mark your calendar for this year’s event which will include four living history timeline camps, three museums, a cabin and a schoolhouse open. As well, 33 heritage organizations, sites, and individuals who will set up exhibits on Jonesborough, Washington County and regional heritage in the Jonesborough Visitors Center Auditorium. Not only will history be displayed and portrayed, it will also be talked about. Twelve presentations will take place in the Classroom at the Jonesborough Visitors Center as well as two colonial style dances in the Washington County-Jonesborough History Museum and a book signing at Oak Hill School House, two town tours, and one cemetery tour to name just a few events taking place during the fair.

This year’s fair will arrive after a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19. The hype of taking local history and genealogy to the next generation is a passion for all involved that is why the event is designed in several parts including the living history timeline, presentations, and exhibitions all packed into Tennessee’s Oldest Town as a historic and fitting backdrop to celebrate the region’s heritage.


Inside the Jonesborough Visitors Center’s auditorium will be 33 organizational / individual exhibit tables with informational boards, photos, brochures and more on local history and genealogy. Many of these organizations are not so known about and it is a great way to showcase hidden gems in our backyard. Such organizations are the Knob Creek Museum and Pioneer Homestead in the Knob Creek community and the Adam Alexander Broyles Home in Broylesville. Still others like the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum are well know organizations in our region, but provide great program to the public.

Even still, many heritage tri-fold boards will be on display showcasing Washington County’s hidden history like the Tennessee Historical Markers, National Register of Historic Places, and Historic Sites along Old State Route 34 to name a few. Some boards will also include family genealogies including the Milling Bashor Families, the Huffine Family, Connections to Revolutionary Patriots, and Sparling Bowman. This part of the fair is very interactive. Recently, the Jonesborough Genealogical Society held a Create Your Family Tree Poster Day, where many came out to work on tri-fold boards for the Heritage Fair, yet you can still participate as tri-fold boards still remain. If you would like to trace your family’s roots or present a tidbit of your family’s story, please do! The JGS has volunteers to help you put together such a board for display as well as tri-fold board remaining for use. Just email info@jgstn.org to access these materials and help.


In the town of Jonesborough, greenspaces and parks in the downtown area are widely used for events. During this event it is not different. The greenspace at the corner of Boone Street and Sabin Drive, Mill Springs Park, the Central Christian Church lawn, Christopher Taylor Cabin lawn, and the Jimmy Neil Smith Storytelling Park will be used to provide tents on areas of history from the Cherokee to Vietnam eras. This year’s Living History Timeline are broken into five camps, which include the Cherokee at the greenspace at the corner of Boone Street and Sabin Drive; Settlement and Revolutionary War at Jimmy Neil Smith Storytelling Park; Trade Demonstrations on the Central Christian Church lawn; 1800s to 1860s at the Christopher Taylor Cabin Lawn; and the 1860s to 20th Century in Mill Springs Park. The Living History Timeline presents educational experiences through the visual representation of life throughout history, which includes period clothing styles, language, techniques, and experiences. In addition, it provides a look at jobs and trades, as well as economic, social, racial, and gender stature throughout time. The Cherokee Timeline will include the Thunderbolt Warriors as well as James Hilton of Spirit of the Wolf Native American Style Flutes. The Settlement and Revolutionary War Timeline will include Joshua Chapman with the Militia Soldier’s Kit; the Kings Mountain Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution with the American Revolution Soldier display; Overmountain Victory Trail Association presenting the Battle of Kings Mountain story; Lisa Bennett presenting Mary Patton’s Story; Gordon Sisk presenting Rev. Samuel Doak; and Gerald Mustin presenting the Longhunter. The Sabine Hill Social Society will be set up in front of the Christopher Taylor Cabin demonstrating period outdoor games and music or the 1790s to 1820s. On the lawn of the Central Christian Church will be two trade demonstrators including Will Vogt demonstrating blacksmith with his forge, Cathy Broyles of Broyles Oak Rockers demonstrating chair weaving and basket weaving, and Scott Thompson of Thompson Woodcrafting showcasing his spoon carving by doing a woodworking demonstration using an Axe, a froe, and some basic carving knives. A Walk in Their Boots will take over Mill Springs Park along with Joy Braham’s Women’s Suffrage tent showcasing military era history from a Civil War set up to a World War II Jeep and Vietnam vehicle.


In the Classroom at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, twelve 45-minute presentations will be given by eleven speakers on a variety of topics including the Cholera Epidemic of 1873 to World War II to Cherokee Archeology to Historical and Cultural Sites along the Tweetsie Trail in Johnson City. Each of these presentations must be pre-registered to attend as the room will only hold 20 people, yet these presentations are worth signing up! These include:

Friday, 9:00-9:45               Gordon Sisk, Rev. Samuel Doak 

Friday, 10:00-10:45          Megan Cullen Tewell, History of Ashe Street Courthouse

Friday, 11:00-11:45          Ron Dykes, “First Hand Account of Omaha Beach, D-Day 1944″   

Friday, 12:00-12:45          Phillip Bishop, “The Civil War and Washington County-1863”       

Friday, 1:00-1:45               Joy Branham, The Perfect 36: Tennessee’s Crucial Part in Securing

Women’s Right to Vote

Friday, 2:00-2:45               Dr. Ron Roach, Tweetsie Trail and the Historic and Cultural Events

Commemorated Along the Trail

Saturday, 9:00- 9:45        Dr. Brenda G’Fellers, Cholera Epidemic of 1873   

Saturday, 10:00-10:45     Dr. Brenda G’Fellers, Children’s Author Rhea Wells           

Saturday, 12:00- 12:45   Reagan Cornett, Geographical and Archaeological Investigation at David

Crockett Birthplace State Park   

Saturday, 1:00- 1:45        Dr. William Kennedy, Celebrating 50 Years of Historic Zoning in Jonesborough    

Saturday, 2:00 – 2:45      Dr. Patrick Stern, Embree House Farm    

Saturday, 3:00 – 3:45      William J. Frazier, Scottish Influences on the New World and East


                While these presentations will be entertaining and informative, other events will also get you on your feet and showcase the town and region’s history. These will include two colonial dances by the Sabine Hill Social Society in the Jonesborough-Washington County History Museum, one on Friday at 3 pm and one on Saturday at 11 am. These dances will include period dances from the mid-1600s to mid-1800s in period attire by the society, as well as a dance leader who will help you learn the history behind the dance and show you how to perform it.

                In addition, Oak Hill School House will be opened to the public on Friday from 9 am to 2 pm with schoolmarms showcasing education in 1892. A book signing on a book on one-room schoolhouses is also in the works. If you would like to know more about Jonesborough’s past, take one of two town tours with the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia at 1 pm each day. Cost is $5.00. If you’d like to know more about the people who lived in the town and the stories they can tell from the grave, take the Old Jonesborough Cemetery Tour at 2:30 pm on Saturday for a cost of $3.00.

                Also take sometime to visit the three museums in Jonesborough. The Chester Inn Historic Site and Museum will be open 11 am to 6 pm both days, while the Chuckey Depot Museum will be open from 1 pm to 4 pm on Friday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday. The Jonesborough-Washington County History Museum will be open both days as well.

                For more information on the Washington County, Tennessee Heritage Fair or to register for the presentations, visit jgstn.org/annual-heritage-fair/ or email info@jgstn.org, and watch for more information!