The weekend ran a bit differently for Urban Woman and myself. Ordinarily a First Friday would find me running about until very late catching as much as possible of all the goings on. This time we had out-of-town visitors, so I found myself with a group of nine people ranging in age from three to seventy-nine and hailing from the Gulf Coast to Canada. We moved slowly through the massive crowds.
The weather was perfect for the first time in months and Rhythm and Blooms overlapped with First Friday making for big crowds. I heard a couple of people talking about multiple garages being full, and though I didn’t see that for myself, it’s very believable. We found it very difficult to make our way through Market Square. We managed to stop into the newly opened Peanut Shop of Knoxville and drop a bit of cash.
On Market Square I discovered a line of very cool guitars being auctioned as part of a guitar decorating contest for Rhythm and Blooms. Epiphones and other models displayed bright colors or intricate designs. I resisted the urge to make a bid. Why unleash my mediocre guitar skills via amplification? I love my city too much for that. We also passed by the public pianos, which I love to see scattered about.
The group seemed to enjoy Mast General Store where they spent a significant amount of time. I like Mast just fine, but really only need small doses of any kind of shopping, so I happily stayed out front on Gay Street where Bill and Jake had set up shop. Bill was telling me that this spot sometimes makes him more money than Market Square. I got to hear one of his three Bob Dylan songs (he doesn’t seem to be a big fan): “Peggy Day.” The others (for all of you who are screaming at your computer, “For God’s sake, man, tell us the other two!”) are “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and “I Shall Be Released.”
We stopped by the Art Market which was overrun and walked to the 100 Block where artists were painting – or just saying, “Hello” to friends like Cynthia Markert appeared to be doing. Less than half our party was willing to enter the Emporium which was also overrun. One of our Canadian friends took a turn at the electronic puppet show and then we slipped outside.
For me, if I was on my own, the crowds would be an added exciting element and I’d stay out until they mostly went home. As it was, the crowds were of a size to be a discouragement to a large group. We had a 8:30 reservation at Cru Bistro and still had to wait an hour to get our food. I’m not sure if the crowds surprised them or if they were understaffed. I would’ve loved to have heard Emily Mathis playing late-night jazz at Bella Luna, but several in our group needed rest, so we headed home, only stopping for a bit of yogurt at the new Orange Leaf store. (Money saving tip: You don’t have to fill the cup up – even the small is huge.) The store was the most successful crowd-pleaser for everyone in our party.
So, it was a pretty tame First Friday with massive crowds. Mostly it was just good to finally have some sunshine, warm temperatures and no rain. I think that made everybody a bit happier as they walked about.