Well, 2016 was quite the year to remember. It threw almost everything it had at me, pushed me to my limits, introduced me to some pretty wonderful people, and showed me how to pick myself up and keep moving forward. Insert Charles Dickens “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” quote here.
But most importantly, 2016 taught me so much about myself and showed me that I am where I am for a reason, and that I couldn’t be happier with the life I have. I said it would take a lot to top 2015, and 2016 sure brought it.
If you’re curious, you can check out my best of 2015 post here.
Now 2016 is coming to a close and 2017 is just on the horizon. Let’s take a look back on the last year and celebrate everything wonderful that happened.
The Best of 2016
I kicked off 2016 with a blog linkup with several other fantastic bloggers: Christina, Gina, Catherine and Allie (formerly of Call Me Sassafras blog). Our Be Bold in 2016 linkup was a way to give other bloggers and ourselves a space to share our goals for the upcoming year and to get pumped for what was to come.
Also in January, I launched my Chattanooga Bucket List. It’s one of my most viewed (and most pinned) posts and one that I’m really proud of. It earned me my first press hit and inspired my Chattanooga Foodie Bucket List and several other Chattanooga-centric posts that highlight some of my favorite spots and activities in town.
Speaking of favorite spots and activities in town, I attended my first Chattanooga Symphony and Opera concerts in February! The Big Band Fever show was full of energy, big band classics and swing dancing, and the side-by-side concert with the CSO Youth Orchestra took me back to my own orchestra days.
I was really lucky this year to have several dear friends visit me in Chattanooga. In March, my friend Daniel from college visited, and we took a food tour around Chattanooga’s Southside. Also in March, my friend Nicole paid me a visit over Easter weekend. We brunched at STIR and got fabulous blowouts at The Blowout Company.
To finish off a busy spring, I covered my first food-and-drink benefit event at Taste 2016, which fueled my love for collaborating with local food events. My parents paid me a visit, and my friend Jordan visited and we had an absolute blast! You can read more about these visits in this post.
This summer was an absolute whirlwind, and definitely some of the best of 2016. Soccer season started up in May and I spent many Saturdays tailgating and cheering for the Chattanooga FC. I spent lots of time paddle boarding out on the Tennessee River and developing a love for being on the water. Do I see long-distance paddling in my future? Perhaps.
One of the best parts of summer was having my childhood friend Josh visit all the way from England! We went to school together when I lived in Georgia, and then our families moved away and we only saw each other when I studied abroad in London. This summer, he spent a week with me in Chattanooga and I showed him around my city and some awesome spots beyond.
Another item on my ‘best of 2016’ list is the Riverbend Music Festival. It was my first music festival, and my first time covering an event as official media. The festival celebrated its 35th year in Chattanooga with a killer lineup of Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldredge, REO Speedwagon, Blackberry Smoke, Kane Brown, Blood Sweat & Tears, Heart and so many other amazing artists. Y’all can check out my recap article here, and take a look at some of my best photos from the festival here.
This summer, I hit a milestone – I marked a full year of living in Chattanooga. It was a year full of ups and downs and everything in between. I’m so glad I came to Chattanooga and I will never hesitate to tell anyone that.
I rounded out the summer with the Southern Brewer’s Festival and Opening Night at the CSO. I’m slowly becoming a beer drinker and going to this festival for the last two years has helped broaden my palette. Opening Night at the CSO was a completely new experience. I had the awesome opportunity to go behind the scenes at their dress rehearsal and watch some of the musicians be interviewed for a news segment.
The fun didn’t stop at the end of the summer. Startup Week in October was full of special events that celebrated the innovation and startup community in Chattanooga. I loved being a judge in the inaugural Pop-Up Restaurant Challenge, hosted by Chattanooga Eats. I also had an amazing night eating, drinking, dancing and raising money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation at Hand Crafted Wishes at the Hunter Museum of Art. I’m so ready for next year’s editions of those events.
Also in October, I volunteered at the Chattajack, a 31-mile river race down the Tennessee River. It’s for stand-up paddles, kayaks, canoes and surf-skis, and it was one of the coolest events I’ve experienced in my time in Chattanooga. One of my goals for 2017 is to start training for long-distance paddling myself. I’d love to race in the Chattajack before I turn 30.
November was a pretty big month, too. I kept up with my benefit-food-and-drink events and attended a chef’s pairing dinner at FEED Co. Table and Tavern. Proceeds from the dinner went to the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee. And all of that amazing, rustic, farm-to-table comfort food was the icing on the cake. At the end of the month, I hit the quarter-century mark and celebrated my 25th birthday. I hadn’t done any real celebrations for my birthday in a few years, so I went out to dinner with some friends in Chattanooga, and that was perfect.
And lastly, I got in the holiday spirit in December with the Indie Craft Experience Christmas market, an awesome 24-hour street festival in Chattanooga (Mainx24), my work’s holiday party, and going back to North Carolina for Christmas.
2016 surely lived up to its hype and I’m excited to see what 2017 has in store. My best of 2016 was absolutely wonderful, so I can only imagine what the New Year will bring.
What were some of your best of 2016 moments and memories?