Dogwood Arts’ Market Square Art Fair

Greg Tardy, Market Square Stage, Dogwood Arts Festival, Knoxville 2012

Let’s just start with the fact: This year’s Market Square Art Fair was the best I’ve ever seen. To me, this weekend of the festival is the defining event. It’s what I think of when I think of the entire festival, though I know there is much more. Jack Neely wrote a great survey of Dogwood Arts Festivals over the years recognizing that the quality has gotten steadily better in recent years under the guidance of Festival director Lisa Duncan.

Plants lining Union Avenue, Market Square Art Fair 2012, Knoxville


Entrance to the Market Square Art Fair


Co-chair Kim Henry told me that “One hundred artists applied for seventy spots,” meaning that the competition for a spot in the Fair has gotten more intense. She also noted that while this year’s fair included traditional county fair favorite foods such as funnel cakes and corn dogs, an emphasis this year was placed on expansion of quality culinary options. Bayou Bay Seafood was present, for example, as was Avanti Sevoia who also co-sponsored a culinary arts stage.

Funnel Cakes, Check, Corn Dogs, Check
Urban Toddler so wanted to get inside this giant orange
Avanti Savoia, Market Square Art Fair 2012, Knoxville
Lynne Caldwell of Tupelo Honey, Dogwood Arts Festival 2012, Knoxville


Tupelo Honey also, very smartly I thought, sponsored a booth and signed people up for a “Shoo Mercy Club Card,” which offers the bearer discounts at the restaurant which, according to Lynne Caldwell, Merchandise, E-store and Marketing Manager, will not open until August. The initial word had been June, so that’s a little disappointing, but not so much surprising when you look at what has to be done to get their space ready. Ms. Caldwell indicated that the company is excited about the new store and that they are already looking into connections to make within the community.

Xylophone Music for the Dogwood Arts Festival, Knoxville 2012
Vance Thompson and Greg Tardy, Market Square Stage

Music could be found throughout the Festival – both planned and not-so-much-so. Friday evening featured Jazz on the Market Square Stage with Vance Thompson and Greg Tardy while in Krutch Park one of my favorite recent sounds of the city held sway: the xylophone. There was also a small “stage” area set up and scheduled for performers at the edge of Union Avenue across from Krutch Park. As always, buskers of ever ability level moved about looking for suitable spots to ply their trade.


Face Painting, Market Square Art Fair, Knoxville, 2012
Official Car of the Dogwood Arts Festival: The Nissan Leaf (What else?)
Booths stretching through Market Square

At the western entrance on Union Street, herbs and ornamental plants beckoned from carts while in every direction from that point artisans offered their wares. Woodwork was easily found in several locations, but so was leather working (I bought a great wallet), metalworking, pottery and, it seemed, a ton of glass work. Face painting and other children’s activities were also scattered about.

Booth at the Market Square Art Market
Booth at the Market Square Art Market
Booth at the Market Square Art Market

The stained glass and blown glass captured my attention more than anything this year. It seemed around each corner was a booth with a new twist on the very old art. Some of the glass was absolutely beautiful and the range of the artists’ vision was pretty amazing.

Booth at the Market Square Art Market

And this was only Friday night. One of the great things about living in the city is that when there is a three-day event or even an all-day event, there is no need to take it all in at once. Frequent breaks for lunch, water or just to rest back at home make the second, third or fourth round more enjoyable. It doesn’t become an endurance contest because we committed with a long drive and fought for a parking place. There was too much to see in one shift and there was too much to write about – so I’ll write about more tomorrow. I still have my favorite part to go!

Booth at the Market Square Art Market
Booth at the Market Square Art Market (those are oil candles)

I suppose I should say, “Welcome to,” as this is the first post to be placed exclusively at the new address. I hope you like it – and I promise it will get better as I learn what I’m doing. If you have suggestions or reactions, please leave a comment below or e-mail me at For example, are the photographs too small? I can’t decide. Also, if any of you know how in the world to control Adsense on WordPress, please drop me a line. I know they are a mess, but I’m not sure what to do about them, just yet.

Lovely Ladies from Studio Visage, Market Square Art Fair