Retiring Director of Jonesborough's Tourism and Marketing Leaves behind a Legacy
Carolyn Tomko's Vision Reflected in Accomplished Visitors Center and Jonesborough's First Visitors Guide
June 02, 2008JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. — Tourism has grown tremendously in Jonesborough during the last several years, and Carolyn Tomko, Director of Tourism and Marketing for the Department of Tourism, has been a driving force behind the success.
During the past 21 years, she has initiated expansion of the Visitors Center and gift shop and creation of the first Visitors Guide in Jonesborough. The Visitors Guide is scheduled to be delivered at her at a public reception on June 4 from 2-4 p.m. at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center.
Back in the late 1980s, Tomko recalls, "There were many who questioned the need for a Visitors Center. They did not realize just a few short years later there would be 150,000 to 200,000 people from across the United States would be visiting Jonesborough each year!"
When she started working at the Visitors Center as a part time hostess, the building was only two years old, having been constructed in 1985. As time went on, she was promoted to full time hostess, Director of the Visitors Center, and now she is Director of Tourism and Marketing. Carolyn has enjoyed planning events and festivals from beginning to end, and finding ways to improve and build on successes of the past. The event she is most proud of is the annual At Home with Santa children's holiday event held the second Saturday of December. At Home with Santa provides children and their families a day filled with fun activities and games. There is also a Santa Shop for children to buy gifts for family members and free pictures with Santa.
Tomko and her husband, Johnny, moved to East Tennessee from Virginia when his position at a savings and loan required the family to relocate. "They hired my whole family when they hired me," she said. Her husband has volunteered hours of setup and cleaning for festivals. Their children, John and Angie, have also donated numerous hours to the town.
The late singer Johnny Cash, former Vice President Al Gore, and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander have visited Jonesborough during Carolyn's time at the Visitors Center. Along with Polly Taylor, the first owner of the Tennessee Quilts shop, Carolyn helped start the annual Quilt Festival. The Department of Tourism located in the Visitors Center also worked this year to promote the 4th annual Tartan Day Celtic Celebration.
Tomko came to the Visitors Center at age 41, and at age 62 has decided to go home and do things she has wanted to do but not had the time. She plans on working with her flowers on the couple's 18 acre farm, traveling with family and friends, and playing with her two grandchildren.