October 29, 2021
It's Friday, and we're ready to jump-start the weekend with a fistful of fun-size candy.
🌧 Today's weather: More rain today, with a high of about 59.
Situational awareness: The Tennessee General Assembly could vote today to approve legislation limiting COVID-19 restrictions.
Today's newsletter is 948 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: The state's acorn hunt
Tennessee is turning to Vanderbilt University to boost the state's shrinking stock of white oak trees.
- Workers with the university and the state Division of Forestry recently rolled out large nets to harvest the trees' precious acorns.
Why it matters: The dwindling population of white oaks is a national problem. In Tennessee, officials are confronting a scarce supply of locally grown acorns, which are more adept at growing and thriving here.
- "Everybody's having supply chain shortages," Nathan Hoover, who oversees the state's forest management unit, tells Axios. "This is kind of similar to that — we can't find acorns."
- Hoover said white oaks are a key pillar of the state's forest-based economy, which generates billions of dollars and includes recreation, tourism, hunting and logging.
By the numbers: The state has collected acorns at Vanderbilt for a couple of years, but this year's effort was a larger undertaking.
- Hoover estimates that the state has already collected 740 pounds of white oak acorns and 375 pounds of bur oak acorns from Vanderbilt.
- That could lead to about 55,750 seedlings being distributed across Tennessee.
What's next: The acorns will go to the state's East Tennessee nursery, where they will be vetted and planted before being sold or provided to agencies across the state in about a year.
What they're saying: Vanderbilt's landscape architect James Moore says there are about 50 white oaks on campus. The trees on campus are particularly hearty: some of them top 100 feet and are more than a century old.
- "Those are the kinds of oaks that you want to be collecting and growing across the state," Moore tells Axios.
How to help: The White Oak Initiative in Tennessee — a joint effort of the state, University of Tennessee, Tennessee Forestry Association, and other groups — is collecting white oak acorns through Nov. 15.
- Contact the Tennessee Forestry Association for acorn collection kits and other details.
2. TSU celebrates homecoming
One week after Tennessee State football coach Eddie George decried his program's lack of support, Tiger fans will have the opportunity to come out for the team's homecoming game on Saturday.
- The game will follow the iconic TSU homecoming parade, which starts at 9am on Jefferson Street.
Why it matters: Hiring George, the former Titans superstar, offered a chance for the historically Black university to inject life into its program. Attendance has been tepid so far, but the annual homecoming game and its full week of festivities is a major event for TSU alumni.
- In taking the TSU job, George followed the path of another NFL legend, Deion Sanders, who took over the reins as coach at HBCU Jackson State last year.
What he's saying: George said earlier this month he's noticed the lack of attendance at home games. The Tigers have averaged 2,466 fans for its two contests at Nissan Stadium.
- "To be honest, it is disappointing to walk out there and to see literally nobody in the stands," George told the Tennessean. "We appreciate the fans that have supported us. But it is discouraging when you see that because you don't have a real home-field advantage."
State of play: On the field, George's team is off to a 4-3 start, with Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State coming to Nashville on Saturday.
Of note: Police urge fans to arrive early at Nissan Stadium in advance of the 5pm kickoff to help with traffic flow.
🎃 3. Axios Nashville's Halloweekend picks
If you're looking for something spooky (or not-so-spooky) to do this weekend, the folks at Nashville Guru compiled a lengthy list of Halloween events.
Here are our picks:
Friday: Diskin Cider will host "Nightmare on Martin Street: Be the Bad Guy" tonight. It'll be a party for humans and dogs alike.
- Festivities begin with a dog costume contest at 6pm and include tarot card readings, DJ-fueled dancing and spooky portraits by NOSEiD.
- At 10pm, human partiers are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite villain for a costume contest. Preds tickets "may or may not" be on the line.
Saturday: Honeysuckle Hill Farm's Fall Festival is open from 10am to 8pm, weather permitting. The farm posts weather information on their Instagram. The family-friendly Springfield farm offers a pumpkin patch, corn maze, pig races, and a singing chicken show.
- The farm is scheduled to host trick-or-treating for kids from 12pm to 4pm as well as a nighttime fireworks show.
- Bonus: The farm advertises an ominous "pumpkin destruction day" on Sunday.
Sunday: If your night isn't tied up with trick-or-treating, head over to the TailGate Brewery headquarters on Charlotte Pike for a free outdoor showing of "Hocus Pocus" at 7pm.
4. The Setlist
👻 The story behind Union Station, recently voted America's "best haunted hotel." (The Tennessean)
🗒 Business groups sent lawmakers a letter urging them not to pass legislation contradicting federal COVID-19 guidelines. (Tennessee Journal)
📚 Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton is backing an effort to make school board elections partisan. (WPLN)
An official in the Nashville fire marshal's office filed a discrimination complaint against the department. (WSMV)
5. Gino's East exits Nashville after two years
In our low-key, deep-dish-style pizza war, it appears the final score is Nashville 1, Chicago 0.
- Chicago-based Gino's East opened just two years ago in the heart of Nashville's tourist district but has already closed, per the Nashville Scene and Gino's website.
Why it matters: In Nashville's increasingly crowded pizza scene, 312 Pizza Co. in Germantown has claimed ownership of the Chicago-style deep dish market.
💬 Nate's thought bubble: As an old grump, I love the abundant street parking. And as a rabid beer enthusiast, I recommend happy hour drinks at nearby Bearded Iris followed by dinner at 312.
- Watching a Cubs World Series Game 2 victory there with a bunch of Chicago natives is one of my all-time baseball fan memories.
🍕My go-to order is the five-cheese Mrs. O'Leary.
🎧 Nate is excited about the new War on Drugs album out today.
😬 Adam is going to see "Halloween Kills" this weekend.