By Sabrina Bates
MVP Regional News Editor
A Palmersville native is heading back to her roots in Weakley County to help the Dresden community celebrate the 43rd annual Tennessee Iris Festival.
Lynn (Caldwell) Collins is traveling from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and bringing some sweet treats with her as part of her family-operated venture, Heavenly Sensations Gourmet Cookies and More.
“What a wonderful opportunity it is for us to join the Dresden Iris Festival this year. We actually lived in West Tennessee most of our lives, and we know how awesome the people are there,” Collins shared. Weakley County holds a special place in her heart. Having grown up in Palmersville, Collins said when she heard about the Dec. 10, 2021, tornado that ravaged downtown Dresden, she knew she had to help.
She prepped about 300 homemade cookies and sent them with her niece, Albany Cianfarini, back to Dresden, where they were included with meals served at the Dresden Elks Lodge. As a charity-based operation, much of Collins’ proceeds are passed to non-profit organizations, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Cookie for Kids Cancer of New Jersey, Wounded Warriors and United Way. Her personal project is Cookies for a Cause, which stemmed from the tornado destruction in Dresden.
Last year, Collins and her family made more than 9,000 cookies and treats. She said this year she is on track to surpass that and is looking at 11,000 for her third year in business. Her baked goods are offered in about 20 storefronts throughout Arkansas and she and her husband, Stan, set up at farmers markets and special events with their food trailer.
“We have made it a mission of ours to help others when we can and make a difference for communities. We have also been known to hand out free cookies, and cakes to children in need of cheering up. Or maybe someone less fortunate and can’t receive a birthday cake for their birthday. I always say we are a small business with a charitable heart. It is more blessed to give than receive” Collins shared.
She said she had an overwhelming calling from God to put her talent to work. After questioning what her talent was for a while, Collins said she finally realized it was her love of baking that was laid on her heart and three years later, she continues to go and grow.
Collins was so excited about being able to set up as a vendor for next week’s Tennessee Iris Festival in Dresden, she created “The Purple Iris.” The Purple Iris is a molasses and oatmeal cookie stuffed with blackberry jam and topped with a buttercream frosting. She looks forward to sharing it with Iris Festival visitors. She warns that the Purple Iris is more than just a cookie; it is as filling as a cake and it is an Iris Festival exclusive.
Heavenly Cookies will be set up at the Dresden Farmers Market pavilion from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, May 5, and all day Saturday, May 6, during Iris Festival activities. She welcomes old friends and new to stop by and say hello and grab a sweet treat for a good cause as proceeds from sales will benefit a local charity. Although the cookies won’t be free, she plans to spread some happiness and share some hugs, and both are priceless.
To see samples of Collins’ cookies, visit her Facebook page at Heavenly Sensations, Gourmet Cookies and More.
For a comprehensive schedule of events for this year’s Tennessee Iris Festival, pick up a guide at Dresden City Hall, located inside the Ned McWherter Civic Center, also known as the Dresden Senior Center.