JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – According to one traveler and the publication she writes for, Jonesborough tops all others when it comes to small town scenes.
K.C. Dermody writes for Trips To Discover, a digital magazine with a focus on travel and life on the road. When she stopped in Jonesborough, she said it made quite the impression. Enough of an impression, in fact, for her to grant the town the title of Most Charming Small Town in Tennessee.
“Having traveled extensively through Tennessee, the town that I remember the most is Jonesborough,” Dermody said. “It has so much charm with an old-fashioned feel and historic character as the oldest city in the state.”
Chuck Vest, the town’s mayor, agrees. He watched the town grow over the years, and was more than happy to see it get the recognition.
“We always say Jonesborough might be a small town, but we do a lot of big things and we do a lot of big things good,” Vest said. “And we’re going to continue that. We’ve got a diverse population and we like to make sure we’re flying the American flags but also looking at the arts and the history of our town is just as important as flying those American flags to us.”
One major draw for K.C. was the town’s stories and tales, and not just the ones from the International Storytelling Center.
“There are lots of fun local shops and antique stores,” Dermody said. “But the history is what made it stand out to me the most as it really brings the past to life, not to mention the intriguing ghost stories.”
As Tennessee’s oldest town, the Jonesborough BMA is more than aware of the legacy they’re protecting. Vest said it’s a major part of each decision they make.
“There’s not many towns around that’s 243 years old like Jonesborough that’s been cared for like Jonesborough has,” Vest said. “So it’s been decades of work that’s went into this, that’s created this charming town. It’s kind of up to us to protect it.”
Aside from the history, Dermody highlighted some standout institutions in the area as well:
- The Jonesborough Repertory Theater
- The Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts
- The McKinney Center
- Jimmy Neil Smith Park
At its core, K.C. said the town’s feel goes much further than any single attraction or business. A friendly reception was a major part of her choice.
“The surrounding scenery is picturesque and the people are warm and welcoming – without that, it would not have made my list,” Dermody said. “It has all the ingredients for what I think makes a town the most charming.”
The publication’s ranking is sure to draw tourism to the area, and Vest said it won’t be long until the old-school main street can’t easily handle the flow of traffic and commerce into the heart of town.
“It’s a balancing act right now because really we’ve created something so good that a lot of people want to visit,” Vest said. “And that creates some issue with traffic, and motor vehicles. So being able to get the traffic around town without disturbing our downtown is something we’re focused on now, and hopefully within the next year or two you’ll see some changes in our traffic patterns.”
While Jonesborough has no plans to be the next NYC, Vest said the BMA is always looking to tap into new segments of the population as potential visitors or residents.
“There’s still some segments of our population in our country that we’re not targeting as aggressively and I think that’s something we’re going to be doing more of,” Vest said. “Young professionals is probably a good area for us to improve on, I think we have always done well with attracting an older clientele with the storytelling, and the antiques and the history. But there’s a lot of other things that we have to offer for a more diverse crowd.”