Sam and Mary Ann Venable will bring humor and conversation as celebrity guest bartenders at a Pint Night raising funds for journalism and communications scholarships on Thursday, April 13, at Scruffy City Hall.
The Venables will help the non-profit Front Page Foundation raise money for scholarships from 5-8 p.m. April 13 at the bar and restaurant at 32 Market Square, Knoxville. Scott and Bernadette West, Scruffy City Hall’s owners, will donate a portion of drink proceeds to the Foundation, which hosts Pint Nights periodically with celebrity guest bartenders.
Sam Venable, columnist specializing in humor for the Knoxville News Sentinel, has written for the newspaper since 1970. A graduate of the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he is the author of 14 books, most recently “The Joke’s on YOU! All I Did Was Empty My Files.”
Sam is a four-time award winner for “best in state” humorous commentaries from the Tennessee Press Association and two-time winner of the 11-state Green Eyeshade humor writing award from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). His 2014 News Sentinel series, “Fragments of Hate, won the national feature reporting award from SPJ. He is a member of the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame.
While Sam is focused on humor, Mary Ann’s expertise is computers. Also a graduate of the University of Tennessee, she had a career as a teacher that spanned more than 40 years. She spent her last 25 years of teaching as a computer training specialist at New Horizons Computer Learning Center and later at the University of Tennessee.
Now, her hobbies include hiking, gardening and knitting. Her activities include her church’s choir and flower guild, FISH food pantry delivery, serving on the executive board of Wesley House Community Center and as a member of Tennessee Valley Machine Knitters.
Sam, also a popular comedic entertainer, could be encouraged at Pint Night to offer his bizarre look at how to speak “hillbillyeze,” as in “How to Tawlk and Rite Good: A Guide to the Language of Southern Appalachia,” the title of one of his books, or to comment on the perils of growing older. His first job at the News Sentinel was as outdoors editor, and today he enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking and swimming.
Proceeds from Pint Night will help fund annual scholarships for journalism and electronic communications students at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Community College, according to Don Lindsey, president of the Foundation.
The Front Page Foundation is a non-profit corporation chartered in 2015 to raise funds benefiting journalism in all news media through scholarships, professional development activities, and educational programs for the public on vital issues in journalism.
Chartered with the support of the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists, the Foundation partners with ETSPJ in supporting programs that educate the providers and consumers of news, encouraging professional excellence and public understanding of the role of the press. The Foundation advocates for First Amendment rights, which protect freedom of the press, as well as for open meetings, transparency, ethical reporting and quality in the journalism profession.
Melanie Staten is a public relations consultant with her husband, Vince.