Just when you think we are festivaled out downtown, here comes a couple more festivals, both major, both on the same weekend. There’s also a little show which I dearly love which will have its second-to-last show in the Square Room tonight before moving to a new venue. We’ll start with the International Biscuit Festival, move to the Children’s Literature Festival and concluded with tonight’s show at the Square Room.
So, let’s talk biscuits, everyone’s favorite baked item. At the International Biscuit Festival you will find biscuits in every variety known to southern culture and beyond. You will find grandma’s biscuits and you will find little lard droplets with ingredients that would’ve sent grandma into a hissy fit. It’s hard to know where to even begin.
The festival was voted by Livabilty Magazine as the top food festival in the country. It has been featured in Parade Magazine and the exclusive sponsor for this year’s event is Southern Living Magazine. (Knoxville really seems to be on their radar in recent months.)
The fun ranges from the high-brow with a $75 Biscuit Bash at Southern Depot on Friday night and an $85 Blackberry Farms Biscuit Brunch in Krutch Park at 11:00 AM Saturday morning to the lower-brow pigging out that most of the rest of us will do for about $10. There is also a Food Writing Conference running Thursday and Friday. That runs $450 and as of Wednesday night there were two tickets left.
Biscuit Boulevard (Market Street) will be transformed by vendors, restaurants and stages into a biscuit wonderland. That $10 gives you sample biscuits up and down the street and allows you to vote for your favorite. You will find a Biscuit Bake-Off, a Biscuit Songwriting Contest, a Miss and Mr. Biscuit Contest which is hilarious and music on the Flatbed Music Stage. The music starts at 9:00 AM with the Empty Bottle String Band and the last set starts at 2:15 with the very talented Greg Horne.
The Children’s Festival of Reading claims to be the largest and oldest such event in the country and it would be hard to deny it when you witness the scope of the thing. Sprawling across the World’s Fair Park will be displays, book sales, children’s activities, a performance stage, author tents, a music tent and food for purchase. Those of you who follow this blog know that books and music are all I need to survive. Food is a bonus.
The children’s authors, illustrators and musicians are among the very best at what they do. The event has authors and activities for the smallest child through at least middle school age. Sharon Draper and Kerry Madden will be present and they are among my favorites for this age group. Sharon writes gritty urban literature with works such as Darkness Before Dawn, Forged by Fire and Romiette and Julio as well as one of my favorite YA books, Copper Sun, a book about one woman’s journey through slavery. Kerry Madden is the author of a Maggie Valley Trilogy (that’s in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains for those of you not from around here) which includes Gentle’s Holler, Jessie’s Mountain and Louisiana’s Song.
Many other authors and illustrators, including Deborah Diesen target the younger children. Her books include the Pout Pout Fish series as well as Picture Day Perfection. Numerous other picture book authors will be present. There are many more authors and I can’t give details on each of them, but you will find more at the link above.
You’ll also find musicians there such as Jim Gill and our own Sean McCollough who will be broadcasting Kidstuff live from the music stage at 10:00 AM. Dragon dancers and other spectacular entertainment will also join the festivities. The event begins at 10:00 AM and runs until about 3:00, or just past nap time. Just plan on having a blast until the big meltdown, but know the little ones will pass out on the way home and always have great memories of a special day. They will be pumped for next year, I promise. The nearest parking possibility is the Eleventh Street Garage and it’s probably your best option given that garages in downtown proper will be swamped with cars because of the Biscuit Festival.
Finally, the bands. Tonight is the Scruffy City Ramble with featured artists Webb Wilder, Hudson K, Joanna Cotten and Harpeth Rising. As always, I’ve included photographs here from last month’s show. After next month there will be a brief break before the show re-emerges at a different venue. This is an amazing show every month and the only risk you take by purchasing $10 ticket is that you may argue all the way home with your friends or lovers over who was the best act for the night.
Webb Wilder features a rocking country sound with a bit of surf guitar thrown into an R and B stew. Knoxville’s own indie band Hudson K features Christina Horne and Nate Barrett who will likely feature songs from their very recent, fine release, “Ouroboros and the Black Dove.” Joanna Cotten is more straight-up country and Harpeth Rising will provide the folk element for the night.
Of course, the Avett Brothers are at the Coliseum tonight and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is at the Tennessee Theatre tonight and tomorrow night. There are other events, as well, like the filming of the Hudson K video at Preservation Pub on Sunday. Whatever you do, get out there and enjoy the great things the city has to offer.