JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Downtown Johnson City showcased dozens of brick-and-mortar businesses as part of the inaugural Johnson City Junction Days festival.
The new event aims to bring together different local businesses and show the community all that the businesses have to provide.
The Generalist Co-Owner Laura Eshbach is one of the organizers of the event. She said she and her husband got the idea from a similar festival in Texas.
“This festival is kind of inspired by South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, where you go down the main street there and every bar and restaurant has a musician playing,” Eshbach said. “That was that kind of idea of, you know, how do we get the events going on actually in the businesses.”
Eshbach said the event was put together spontaneously. It required help organizing from another local business owner.
“We planned this in about a month,” Eshbach said. “The beautiful thing about this festival is that the ownership of each event is actually with those businesses. We do the marketing for it, but everyone who is throwing an event gets to own that for themselves and do what’s best for them in their store.”
Members of the community who participated in the event were given a map with all the businesses involved in the event.
At each stop, the maps were hole punched with a heart if they visited the businesses. A second punch for purchasing an item. A third punch would be given after completing a simple task given by the specific business. Eshbach said the hearts were inspired by an old railway system that used to run through the downtown area.
“They gave free rides here in the Great Depression and they actually validated train tickets with Little Heart hole punches,” Eshbach said. “So our little heart map is an homage to that.”
The three people with the most hole punches at the end of the event received a collection of prizes from the participating businesses.
Eshbach said she hopes the event will encourage the public to spend more time downtown.
“There are so many businesses have opened in the last three or four years downtown that people don’t know about,” Eshbach said.
Eshbach said they hope to make this a yearly event.