No Foolin’ – a Fun Way to Support the Ronald McDonald House

This fun event features food from some of Nashville’s eateries, live jazz performed by Nashville’s talented Denny Jiosa, an outstanding selection of silent auction items, and a selection of wine, beer and spirits tastings skillfully curated by Ed Fryer of Village Wines & Spirits in Hillsboro Village.

Some of the very best happenings in Nashville are those that benefit schools, philanthropic organizations or charities. One of my personal favorite happenings is scheduled for this Friday, April 1. Continue reading “No Foolin’ – a Fun Way to Support the Ronald McDonald House”

5 Steps to Planning a Day of Fun in Middle Tennessee

Here’s how to plan a “Day of Fun” – the extraordinary gift of spending an entire day together

Summertime is the time of anniversaries and birthdays at our house. We’ve celebrated enough of both to make traditional gift-giving seem impractical – even slightly ridiculous. (As I explained in my Valentine’s Day article, we usually don’t even buy cards for each other any longer!)  In this article, I’m going to tell you how to plan a “Day of Fun” – the extraordinary gift of spending an entire day together sharing interests and experiences. This particular itinerary will be planned for Saturday, June 6 – which happens to be our wedding anniversary!

Step 1 – Choose the First Event – There are a number of festivals going on in small towns across Middle Tennessee on June 6. You might select the Wartrace Music Festival (10am – 10pm), or the Folk Medicine Festival in Red Boiling Springs (9am – 6pm). For this weekend, I’ve chosen the Coopertown Barrel Festival (10am – 4pm) as our First Event, which means that we want to arrive in Coopertown sometime between 10am and noon. But first – breakfast!

Step 2 – Pick a breakfast spot on the way. Put some effort into this selection – this might be the time that you finally try to get a table at one of Nashville’s new brunch hot spots like Biscuit Love or Fenwick’s 300. (Or you might just head over for the terrific breakfast and friendly service at Nashville Biscuit House in East Nashville.) In our case, since we know our First Event is in Robertson County, I spent a little time on Google and discovered a promising breakfast spot – The Country Junction in Joelton, TN.

Step 3 – Pick an alternate morning activity. Okay, let’s say that we arrive at the Coopertown Barrel Festival at about 11 am, and we’ve seen all there is to see by 11:30. Or, let’s say that the heavens let loose and we decide that slogging about in the rain doesn’t Sound Like Fun. Part of the reason for picking the Barrel Festival in the first place is that we enjoy learning about whiskey distillation. So, if we end up needing to stay indoors, we’re likely to head over to Prichard’s in Joelton, or down to Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Marathon Village (or both) for a tour. Or, if we’re feeling ambitious, we might go up to Bowling Green, KY to tour the Corsair Distillery (and get a stamp for another destination on the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail).

Step 4 – There Will Be Barbecue! After the big breakfast we’ve planned, we’re probably not going to be hungry until almost mid-afternoon. And, though it’s sometimes fun to just choose a restaurant based on what looks good (and open) as you’re driving by, I tend to get impatient once hunger strikes! So, it’s a great idea to check out Yelp! (or some such service) so that you’ll know a good local barbecue joint that’s not too far out of the way. For my itinerary, I looked for something in Springfield – I see that top-reated Willie Mae’s is closed on the weekends, but J.L. Baldwin & Son’s Pit Barbecue is open and reviews are solid!

Step 5 – Chill Time. There’s nothing like a cold beverage and some live music to round out a Day of Fun. Of course, we have several favorite music venues in Nashville we could visit – but at Beachaven Vineyards and Winery in Clarksville, we can set our lawn chairs out and listen to some great music – FREE! (All we have to pay for is the wine we drink.) This Saturday’s artist is the “World Famous” Jim Gibson, playing blues/jazz guitar.

So, there you have it – 5 steps to a spectacular Day of Fun! I’ll be featuring additional itineraries in the future. Feel free to share any successful itineraries you’ve crafted – let’s make our summer memorable!

Savor the Fruits of the Vine in Mid-May

We Nashvillians do love our wine, especially if it’s served with good food, good company and good entertainment!

“Wine is sunlight held together by water.” – Galileo Gallilei

We Nashvillians do love our wine, especially if it’s served with good food, good company and good entertainment! There are some fun-sounding events coming up between May 14-17 that would appeal to oenophiles – as well as those who just enjoy the occasional sip of wine.

Some of the funnest events around town are those that are organized as fundraisers. On Thursday, May 14, the Cheatham County Animal Awareness Foundation is hosting a “Wine and Whiskers 2015” fundraiser at the Harpeth Art Center & Gallery in Pegram, TN. This event features art, music and “mediumship” – they’ve booked Grammy-nominated Denny Jiosa to provide contemporary jazz music, and the event will feature The Music City Medium, Cindy Kaza, who is gifted with the entertaining ability to connect with the spirits of loved ones lost. In addition, the event will have both a live and silent auction. Tickets are $40 each ($65 for VIP tickets), and include wine, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Proceeds benefit the Cheatham County Animal Awareness Foundation’s spay/neuter programs and animal education programs.

If you’re interested in cultivating a few backyard vines of your own, you might want to visit the Urban Gardening Festival on Saturday, May 16 in the Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center. Hosted by the Master Gardeners of Davidson County, this free event invites the public to learn about gardening and home horticulture while engaging with local artisans, exhibitors, food trucks, growers, markets, organizations, and producers from throughout the Greater Nashville and Middle Tennessee areas. The event starts at 9 am.

More interested in tasting wine than making wine? Saturday, May 16 is also the date of the Nashville Wine & Food Festival at Riverfront Park downtown. For the price of admission ($79 general admission; $129 VIP), participants can sample an astonishing variety of wines, foods from some of Nashville’s top restaurants, enjoy live musical entertainment, and take in a class on wine tasting or paella making! Each participant takes home a commemorative wine tote bag, a tasting plate and a Riedel wine glass; VIP participants get other swag, too. The proceeds from the Nashville Wine & Food Festival benefit the Nashville Symphony and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The festival starts at noon and ends at 4 pm.

I hesitate to even mention this next event, because tickets have long since sold out and don’t seem to be available on reseller sites, but here goes…If you can manage to get invited to the season opener of the Bluebird on the Mountain 2015 concert series at the Dyer Observatory near Radnor Lake, you will experience one of the most magical and authentic musical experiences Nashville has to offer. As a bonus, you can use your recently-honed wine palate to carefully select a favorite bottle, and pack a picnic supper to eat under the stars. And you might even take a close-up look at those stars after the concert, when the observatory opens up to the public to look through the telescope. One $120 ticket admits a carload of up to 8 concertgoers – so if you aren’t a ticket holder, find someone who is! Gates open at 6 pm; the music starts at 7.

If you’ve given up on getting to Bluebird on the Mountain in May, you might opt instead to visit picturesque Arrington Vineyards in Williamson County for Music in the Vines on Saturday evening. Music on May 16 will be The First Fruit Jazz Project. Bring folding chairs or blankets, and a picnic dinner – and either bring your own wine or pick up a bottle at the Vineyard’s Cellar Door. Parking and admission are free; the event runs from 5 – 9 pm. If you’re too exhausted to make it to Arrington on Saturday, Music in the Vines also runs on Sundays from 2 – 6 pm.

Clearly some of the events I’ve listed this week are adults-only. You are strongly encouraged to designate a non-drinking driver, or use a car service, to get you back home – because no one thinks that getting into an accident or getting a DUI Sounds Like Fun!