KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The East Tennessee Historical Society is hosting the first ever History Hootenanny.

The East Tennessee Historical Society‘s first History Hootenanny is a free public event taking place on August 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a variety of different events for history fans of all ages to enjoy.

Among these events, some are timed, while others will be taking place all day. The all day events include the:

Local Author Showcase

The local author’s showcase will be taking place in the Auditorium, from the Streetscape entrance.

The showcase will feature some of Arcadia Publishing’s East Tennessee Writers. The authors will be available to sign books and meet with attendees in an informal, relaxed setting. Representatives from Arcadia Publishing will also be available to answer questions and share about becoming one of their authors. The authors featured are:

  • Joe GuyHidden History of East TennesseeHidden History of McMinn CountyHidden History of Southeast Tennessee; and McMinn County
  • Paul JamesIjams Nature Center
  • Paul James & Jack NeelyDowntown Knoxville 
  • Harry Moore & Fred BrownDisappearing Appalachia in Tennessee
  • Jessica PenotHaunted Chattanooga
  • L. Thomas RobertsJohnson City
  • Dewaine SpeaksEast Tennessee in World War IIHistoric Disasters of East TennesseeMurder & Mayhem in East Tennessee; and Weston Fulton in Tennessee

These books, and others from Arcadia Publishing, will be available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

The local author showcase is organized and sponsored by Arcadia Publishing.

Used History Book Sale

The Used History Book Sale will also be taking place in the Auditorium through the Streetscape Entrance. The book sale promises to be “filled with titles sure to pique the interest of everyone’s “inner-historian” on the hootenanny event page.

The sale is organized by the Friends of the Knox County Public Library, and all sales will benefit the organization, dedicated to fostering the love of libraries, books, and reading in the Knox County Area.

The History Express

The first History Express will depart at 10:30 a.m. from Gay Street, in front of the East Tennessee History Center. The History Express will take attendees to multiple of Knoxville’s Historic House Museums. The houses to be visited include

  • Blount Mansion
  • James White’s Fort
  • Mabry-Hazen House
  • Ramsey House*

The shuttles will run continuously throughout the day, departing from and returning to Gay Street in front of the Krutch Park Extension.

*An additional shuttle will be available from Mabry Hazen House to Ramsey House, and it will depart from and return to Mabry Hazen House, with the History Express taking guests from Mabry Hazen House back to the East Tennessee History Center.

The History Express is organized in partnership with the Historic House Museums of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee Department of History.

Free admission to family activities in the Museum of East Tennessee History

Families of all ages can enjoy the fun happening in the Museum of East Tennessee History. Current exhibits at the museum include:

  • You Should’ve Been There – This exhibit is about the 1928 World’s Fair, and guests are invited to take part in the pageantry of the exhibit.
  • History Headquarters – This exhibit is especially for young historians and their families, where they can learn about investigating sources, like artifacts, images, and documents through activities.
  • Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee – This exhibit tells all about the inhabitants of East Tennessee, including the Native Peoples before the land was the United States or Tennessee. Guest interpreters from Crescent Bend, Historic Westwood, and Marble Springs State Historic Site will be in the signature exhibition to interact with guests.

Some scheduled events include:

Genealogy Mini Conference

The Genealogy workshops will take place in the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection on the Third Floor.

  • 9:30 a.m. – Beginning Genealogy – with Ann Blomquist, editor, Tennessee Ancestors, East Tennessee Historical Society
  • 11:30 a.m.Introduction to the McClung Historical Collection – with Eric Dawson, manager, Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library
  • 1:30 p.m. Researching the History of Houses – with Vicky Bills, reference librarian, Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library
  • 3:30 p.m. Introduction to Internet Genealogy with Eric Head, Knox County archivist, Knox County Archives, Knox County Public Library

The Genealogy workshops are set up to kick off a Genealogy series through the fall, according to Dockter Dr. Warren Dockter, President and CEO of the East Tennessee Historical Society.

Each workshop will be an hour and a half long. The workshops are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required as each session has a limit of 20 participants. To register, call 865-215-8809. Registered participants will receive an email confirmation and additional information about the workshops.

During the hootenanny, the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, on the third floor, will also be open for those who are interested in genealogy but unable to attend a workshop. Reference Librarians will be available to help orient visitors to the resources they are interested in.

Author Panel: Putting Local History to Paper

The author panel will be taking place at 10:30 a.m. at the Auditorium, through the Lobby entrance.

The panel of authors and editors, moderated by Dr. Warren Dockter, President and CEO of the East Tennessee Historical Society, will discuss the process of publishing books and best practices for transforming research into a well-received book.

The author panel is organized and sponsored by Arcadia Publishing.

Live Music

Live music will be performed throughout the day at the Museum of East Tennessee History. Hootenannies are traditionally informal gatherings where folk music is played in a party-like atmosphere.

10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. – The Saw Hollow Boys

The Saw Hollow Boys are made up of members from across the Appalachian Mountains. They will be performing a variety of old and new bluegrass tunes.

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Wild Blue Yonder

Wild Blue Yonder is an energetic trio with a wide variety of music that everyone can enjoy. The band often performed lively reels, haunting ballads, and sprightly original tunes. The instrumentation of the band features instruments well associated with Appalachian music, including the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, and guitar, as well as vocals.

Walking Tours

Walking tours will leave from the Main Entrance of the East Tennessee History Center. The tours involve walking sustained distances in the urban setting and are subject to weather.

11 a.m. The 1928 World’s Fair with Jack Neely

The tour will stroll down Clinch Avenue to World’s Fair Park, where Neely will give a tour of the park. Neely will share memories from the 1982 fair in the present-day location.

Jack Neely is now executive director of the Knoxville History Project but once an employee of the Knoxville International Energy Exposition.

1 p.m. The Old City: From Bowery to Baseball with Laura Still

The leisurely walk will traverse through the Old City, where Still will explain the area’s reputation as a saloon district and how it developed into a neighborhood of people from difference races, faiths, and nationalities. Still will also discuss the Old City’s revitalization as an entertainment district.

Laura Still is a local historian.

The walking tours are organized in partnership with the Knoxville History Project and Knoxville Walking Tours.


At 1:30 in the auditorium, through the Lobby Entrance, Recent Acquisitions from the Tennessee Archives of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS) will be debuted. TAMIS is the historic audio-visual department of Knox County Public Library.

Regardless of age, there will be events for everyone at the History Hootenanny, including history buffs, those new to the area, and those just interested in learning a little more about the history of East Tennessee.

The event is happening thanks to a variety of community partners including Arcadia Publishing, Friends of the Knox County Public Library, Historic House Museums of Knoxville, Knoxville History Project, Knoxville Walking Tours, University of Tennessee Department of History. Additional event information is available on the East Tennessee Historical Society’s website.