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  • Writer's pictureKathie Scalf

The Blue Plum Festival

Hello friends, how are you today? The Blue Plum Festival in Johnson City is coming up, so I thought it would be nice to share a little history about the city and its festival. Since 1999, the family-friendly music festival has brought the community together for local music in downtown Johnson City. This year, they celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Blue Plum Festival! We’ve heard it over and over: Blue Plum Festival is where summer begins. Why "Blue Plum?" The history of the organization’s name. Before Johnson City was a city, this little village was home to a post office in the 19th century called the Blue Plum Post Office. The post office — along with the rest of “Johnson’s Depot” in the village — was founded by entrepreneur Henry Johnson. The Blue Plum Post Office was located near the train stop at what’s now the corner of Buffalo Street and West State of Franklin Road. Johnson was postmaster and would later become the founder and namesake of modern-day Johnson City with its incorporation by the state in 1869. The Blue Plum Gives Back program began in 2020 as the organization was seeking ways to support the arts in Downtown Johnson City. When they were unable to have the festival in 2021 due to COVID-19, they set aside $20,000 to support public programs, events and initiatives that stimulate art, music, and culture in the area. The first Blue Plum Gives Back project was to co-sponsor a mural with Johnson City Public Art, which was completed in late 2022. They also provided funding toward the Downtown Square Breezeway project through this program in 2020. Below are other projects Blue Plum Give Back has sponsored or partnered on!

William Bean, traditionally recognized as Tennessee's first white settler, built his cabin along Boone's Creek near Johnson City in 1769. In the 1780s, Colonel John Tipton (1730–1813) established a farm (now the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site) just outside what is now Johnson City. During the State of Franklin movement, Tipton was a leader of the loyalist faction, residents of the region who wanted to remain part of North Carolina rather than form a separate state. In February 1788, an armed engagement took place at Tipton's farm between Tipton and his men, and the forces led by John Sevier, the leader of the Franklin faction. Founded in 1856 by Henry Johnson as a railroad station called "Johnson's Depot", Johnson City became a major rail hub for the Southeast, as three railway lines crossed in the downtown area. During the 1920s and the Prohibition era, Johnson City's ties to the bootlegging activity of the Appalachian Mountains earned the city the nickname of "Little Chicago". Stories persist that the town was one of several distribution centers for Chicago gang boss Al Capone during Prohibition. Capone had a well-organized distribution network within the southern United States for alcohol smuggling; it shipped his products from the mountain distillers to northern cities. Capone was, according to local lore, a part-time resident of Montrose Court, a luxury apartment complex now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There is a lot of history in our area. It’s always nice to look back into the past and get a better understanding. Never too old to learn something.

Local Events:

1. Thunder Valley National Drags June 7th – 9th

2. Blue Plum Festival downtown Johnson City, TN June 7th – 9th

3. Twilight Alive June 14th Kingsport, TN 7pm

4. Bike, Car Truck Show at Black Wolf June 15th

5. 3rd Annual Fiddler’s Convention June 21st – 23rd Washington County VA Fairgrounds

6. Twilight Alive June 21st Kingsport, TN 7pm

7. Twilight Alive June 28th Kingsport, TN

8. Country Thunder at Bristol Motor Speedway June 28th & 29th

9. Hillbilly & Vet Pre-Party and Bike show 3pm -7pm July 20th at Wild Wings Café

10. Hillbilly & Vets Show & Shine July 26th – 27th

Bike Nights:

Wednesday: 19E Pit Stop

Wednesday: Jonesborough VFW

Thursday: Darrell Waltrip

Thursday: Old Town Tavern

Friday: Tulips

June 22nd Biker Wear Bike Night at Wild Wings Café 7pm


1. 4th Annual Bryan K. Loan June 1st 9am KSU 10am at Botetourt Funeral Home

2. Hillbilly & Vets Ride to Maggie Valley July 27th meet at Jonesborough VFW 8am  KSU 8:30am (first group) then every 15 to 30 mins a group leaves all bike must be on the road by 9:30am

Bike Rallies:

1. Ultimate Rally Back of the Dragon June 7th – 9th

2. 22nd June bug Boogie Bike Rally June 20th – 23rd Telco, TN

3. Thunder in the Smokies June 28th – 30th

Full Moons of 2024

1. Strawberry Moon on Friday, June 21 - 9:10 pm

2. Buck Moon on Sunday, July 21 - 6:19 am

3. Sturgeon Moon on Monday, August 19 - 2:28 pm

4. Harvest Moon on Wednesday September 18 - 10:36 pm

5. Hunters Moon on Thursday October 17 -7:27 am

6. Beaver Moon on Friday November 15 - 4:29 pm

7. Cold Moon on Sunday December 15 - 4:02 am

Useless Facts:

1. Cotton Candy Was Invented in TN Almost 120 Years Ago

2. The First Moon Pie Was Made in Tennessee as A Lunchtime Snack

3. Tennessee Is the Birth Place of Mountain Dew

4. Tennessee Is Landlocked by Eight States

5. The First-Ever Tow Trucks Were Made in TN


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