While I covered the Rossini Festival weekend-before-last, I asked Heidi Hornick to cover Outdoor Fest which is an important event emphasizing the great outdoor activities available immediately in the downtown area. It’s really important to get the word out and some of what we have readily accessible is somewhat surprising. The fact that I’m posting it a week later is a testament to how much is going on in our city this spring. Here’s Heidi:
By all accounts, it was going to be pretty bad day to run from your house to your car, let alone hold a festival. Not that this is unexpected. This time of year, in East Tennessee, is known for wild weather. Insurance agents and body shops remember April 27, 2011 with terror or fondness, depending on how their finances played out, after hail and tornadoes pounded the state, that day.
Knoxville holds a lot of festivals, but they seem to reach a fevered pitch in April, especially at the end of the month, around the time of the Rossini Festival. The “curse of Rossini” is sometimes mentioned in hushed tones by downtown denizens and the like, referring to the times when the festival and its participants soldiered on while clutching umbrellas, and a steady rain fell. But the truth is that sometimes the weather is quite pleasant. Last year comes to mind.
Other than occasional bad weather, Rossini and the University of Tennessee’s Orange and White Game, the weekend is also known for showcasing its nationally-recognized urban wilderness at the Outdoor KnoxFest. The Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center is the hub of outdoor activities and information. Its annual event celebrates Knoxville’s big city wilderness that improbably sits minutes from the center of downtown.
But the local and national weather outlets said at the very least it would rain all day; at the worst, it might be another 2011.
Carol Evans, Legacy Parks Executive Director, is master of all outdoor adventures that comes out of the modern building that sits at the east end of Volunteer Landing. Faced with this weather situation, she briefly canceled some Saturday activities, added most of them back onto the schedule, and ultimately decided to carry on.
It was a great decision. Not only did it not rain, but by mid-afternoon, the clouds had parted and the sun made an appearance.
Evans started her impressive career as a television weather forecaster in Fairbanks, Alaska. She once said that she was “terrible” at the job. Saturday’s decision shows otherwise. It is Fairbanks, and the world of weather’s loss and Knoxville’s gain, it seems.