What a great weekend. The Dogwood Arts Festival on Market Square is one the entire urban family circles on our calendar months ahead of time. With a wide array of arts, from photographs and paintings to woodwork and pottery, jewelry and more, there’s something excellent to see in every art form. Recent years have introduced the welcome addition of experiencing the arts which, to me, is a great development.
Our brood (including Urban Brother up for the weekend) had a great time starting Friday evening when we hit the food trucks. Urban Girl had been playing “food truck” and jonesing for a a shot of urban food truck goodness. Over the weekend we had food from the Savory and Sweet Truck, Gonzo Gormet, Cruze Farm and a couple of others who I think were from out of town. One truck operator said she was in from Asheville, so I guess Asheville is trying to get in on some of the Knoxville action.
Activities for the children traced the Clinch Avenue end of Krutch Park and included a massive board for finger (and full-hand!) painting, two spots for face-painting, a booth for building things (Urban Girl built a bug cage of which she was very proud) and more. A children’s stage included performances by One World Circus, a puppet show and a fine performance by the ever-cute Pinklets. The emphasis in the Children’s area was on active creativity and that was a good choice.
For the adults, a number of opportunities were available for becoming involved in the arts. Glass-making was on exhibit in Krutch Park again this year and stayed busy throughout the weekend, with very patient professional glass-blowers helping the less-skilled among us give it a go. Painting and drinking continues to be a growing theme in our city and a booth was set up for that, with artists guiding painters through their strokes. I’d probably do better if I had a few drinks, actually. I certainly couldn’t do worse.
The highlight for us is often the culinary arts tent. We’ve loved it since it started and we plan our day around the schedule on Saturday. We started the day with Chef Brandon Cruze from Sunspot cooking Shirred Eggs Chilaquiles paired with Rosatello Sparkling Rose and K Brew Coffee. Even Urban Girl liked the presentation, if not the food (which was great). She did give the K Brew coffee a sip, but returned to her Orange Julius.
Later Chef Karen Crumley of Avanti Savoia introduced Salt-seared Shrimp with Parsley Sesame Pesto and Smoked Israeli Couscous paired with SIMI Chardonnay. We liked it so much we made it for dinner on Sunday night. Chef Ron Watkins from the Grill at Highlands Row prepared Maple-glazed Pork Belly with Roast Peach Grits and Grain Mustard Demi-glace paired with SIMI Pinot Noir. The day ended with a Simi wine tasting featuring their Simi Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
On Sunday we were able to hear the Harp Twins. I’m pretty oblivious to a lot of pop culture phenomenons, so they were new to me, though my wife assures me they are quite popular on You Tube. They were very entertaining, beautiful and talented, of course. We almost missed them because we’d been watching for them on Krutch Park, but finally saw them on the Market Square stage, so either we were confused or the schedule changed.
It simply is one of the very best weekends of the year in the city and seems to continue evolving and improving. And there always little touches that make it all just a little better. One of those was the seating on the lawn (southern) end of Market Square. We need permanent seating there and hopefully the city noticed how heavily utilized those chairs were all weekend.
A great debt of thanks goes out to the various committees and the army of volunteers as well as to Janet Testerman and the board of directors. I’m delighted with everything that has been added in recent years and the crowds seem to like it, as well. This year skirted disaster with the weather and actually had nice conditions for most of the three days. Here’s hoping our continuing flood of festivals and events have the same good fortune.