Monday, June 29, 2020

Family Visit during the Pandemic (IV)

…continuing with our visit from Laurie’s sister and her husband.

We, or at least they, had browsed and shopped through several stores in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Now it was time for a change of pace…and a lite lunch too.

This was our next stop…Sweetwater Valley Farm, a big dairy farm just outside Philadelphia Tennessee.

This farm was part of the Revolutionary Land Grant awarded to General William Ballard Lenoir.  It was settled in the early 1800s.  Philadelphia, which is just south of the farm, was the most southerly place that was controlled by Union Forces during the Civil War.  Around 1900, this property became a dairy farm.  It has had several owners over the last century.  In 1987, it was purchased by the Harrison family and they’ve built it into a multi-functional operation focused on the dairy industry…

Certainly one of the most popular parts of the farm’s operation relates to their cheese making and sales.  That huge cheese counter is stocked from end to end with a multitude of cheeses…with many varieties!  In addition, visitors can view the cheese making operation through those big windows.

Since we all like cheese, this is one store where we all enjoyed shopping!  I’m not sure if Bonnie and Bill were checking out the flavored butter, the summer sausage or the elk salami… Other items include canned (jars) vegetables, honey, jams/jellies and sauces and cheese curds.

Laurie checked out with modest purchases but they included 2 of her favorite cheese items…cheese curds and a block of buttermilk cheese.  (Note: No face mask worn by the cashier)
All in all, Sweetwater Valley Farms offers as many as 30 different types of cheese!  In addition to a selection of mild and aged cheddars, other options include adobo cheddar, Colby, fiery fiesta cheddar, Gouda, Italian pesto cheddar and a variety of smoked cheeses.  You can check out the cheesy options at

This barnlike structure across from the cheese shop is both a retail shop and a casual restaurant.  We’d heard that Sweetwater Farms was serving grilled cheese sandwiches around lunch time but we just hadn’t stopped by before to give them a try.

This photo shows the dining area in the ‘barn’ and if you look past the stairs, you can see the retail area.  Love the open ceiling with all the beams.  The staff wore face masks and the tables were spaced appropriately apart.

This is the menu board.  With the exception of the Benton’s Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, it’s all about grilled cheese.  Seems pretty appropriate for a dairy based café!  FYI, milk shakes are also offered… 

Like most other restaurants, due to Covid-19 this café had been closed until recently but thankfully now the young ladies behind the counter are back at sandwich making.

We all ordered the same sandwich.  This is the Big Cheese. ($7.00) It is made with sharp yellow cheddar, Benton’s Bacon (another local product), bread and butter pickles with tomato on sourdough bread.  It was a very satisfying luncheon! 

As we left Sweetwater Valley Farm’s café, this big hay truck rolled in.  This is a very large enterprise and in normal times, tours of the dairy operation are also available.

How big is Sweetwater Farms?  It is home to more than 1,500 dairy cows as well as a herd of beef cattle.  Crops are raised on the farm too.  Milking is done using robotic technology.  The farm produces 350,000 lbs. (175 tons) of cheese annually!  Sweetwater Valley Cheese is sold in at least 240 locations in Tennessee and several other adjoining states.  Outlets include stores, wineries, breweries, coffee shops and restaurants.

Sweetwater Valley Farms is located at 17988 West Lee Highway (US Hwy 11) in Philadelphia Tennessee.  Phone: 865-458-9192.  Their website is found at

One more stop along our way home… Yes, it is yet another shopping opportunity!  This is the Shoppes on the Square in the center of Loudon Tennessee.

These photos give you an idea as to the selection of items available in this store.  Booths are rented out and the merchandise varies from crafty items to antiques, clothing, decorative items, books and much more.  Face masks were in vogue here and the aisles are one-way to limit social contact.

The Shoppes on the Square is located at 612 Grove Street in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-244-0207.  Website:

While Bonnie, Bill and Laurie were browsing in the Shoppes on the Square, I took a few minutes to see how the repairs/rebuilding was progressing in the old Loudon County Courthouse.  A terrible fire in April of 2019 destroyed the roof, attic and second floor of this 150 year old historic structure.  Anything that wasn’t burned was destroyed by the water used to fight the fire.  It appears that the reconstruction will be complete by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

The Courthouse grounds (now fenced off) is also the site of the county’s war memorial.  As the memorial is now inaccessible, these posters commemorating some military members from the area who were killed in various wars and conflicts.  The Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II were all represented via these placards.  It was a nice touch…and a reminder of our sacrifices in this era of Covid-19 and social upheaval.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Before it was available in stores, we made regular trips to Sweetwater Valley Farm for cheese, I wasn't aware of the barn but it might inspire another trip down there. Thanks for the courthouse update.

  2. wow...30 different kind of cheese?
    honestly, I don't know different tastes of cheese to another cheese.

    Sweetwater Valley Farm impress me. Have a nice family visit.