I’ll bet when you read about the City People Home Tour yesterday you thought, “That sounds like a fun downtown weekend,” and you were right. Then maybe you looked at the events listing at the top of the page and realized this is also First Friday with everything that entails and thought, “This is a busy weekend,” and you were right. But you didn’t know the half of it. This weekend also marks the beginning of the Nourish Knoxville Market Square Farmers’ Market and the Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee, which actually started yesterday.
We’ll take the Farmers’ Market first. For opening weekend you’ll find right around 100 vendors and Nourish Knoxville has provided a great interactive map of the fair and the locations and descriptions of each of the vendors. It’s a great planning tool and you can learn a great deal about the farmers and other vendors. The market starts at 9:00 AM and this particular weekend, with the other events happening in every direction, it would be a good one for an early arrival.
There may not be quite as many food trucks – and for mostly good reasons. Hoof, for example, has a brick and mortar storefront with the Century Harvest purchase of Just Ripe, so you’ll find their meats there. Other food trucks are currently in the process of moving from a truck to a permanent home, so that’s a successful loss for the market.
There will be a few new vendors – which you might learn about on the interactive map: Oakdale Mountain Farm and Two Chicks and a Farm will introduce their produce this season. Barely Bones is a Chattanooga business that “creates simple, heathy, and tasty craft treats for dogs with ingredients sourced from within 100 miles,” and they will enter the market for the first time, as well.
And dog treats brings up another change everyone needs to know about prior to arriving at the Market: Dogs on leashes will not be allowed in the center aisles on Market Square and on Market Street. The Market Square Farmers’ Market has been the only one in our state’s major cities that allowed them in all areas and will continue to be the most permissive even with the new policy.
Charlotte Tolley, Director of Nourish Knoxville and the Farmers’ Market, told me concerns have been expressed by customers and vendors about aggressive dogs, dog waste left underfoot in the most traveled areas, the dangers posed to children who get clothes-lined by leashes and so on. Vendors have had their lunch snatched by dogs, one dog urinated on a stroller (with a child aboard), coolers with food in them have been similarly doused. The issue of mixing animals and food concerns some.
So, you can bring your dog. If you have a dog you carry, that’s fine in all areas and dogs on leashes are welcome in all areas but the main pedestrian thoroughfares. A dog-sitting service initially proposed was unable to find a co-sponsor to ensure it was done well, so it will not be offered as previously announced.
Another change, which is sure to make some people happy is the introduction of a Veggie Valet service. Have a heavy item, too many items or a bunch of cumbersome plants and you aren’t finished shopping? Check your produce at the north end of the Market Square Stage and your items will be held for you until you are finished shopping. You can even pull your car around to that side of the stage to load your watermelon without lugging it all the way up the garage. This spot will also have an Information Booth to help customers navigate the market and get answers to any questions they might have.
Happening all around the Farmers’ Market will be activities and presentations related to the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. The Blue and Gray Reunion and Jubilee will include far too many events to detail here, but follow the link to their site for schedules and details. I’ve also ferreted out a few highlights along with times on the Ten Day Planner link above.
Just to mention a few that caught my attention, however, tonight is a Blue and Gray Reunion Dinner at the Convention Center. The cost is $60 and includes a speech by Ron Maxwell, director of the films “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals.” The centerpiece of the weekend will be the Civil War Exposition in Krutch Park, the East Tennessee History Center and other locations from 9:45 AM to 5:00 PM. Vintage base ball games will be played on the World’s Fair Park at noon and at 2:00 PM
Throughout the day patrons may engage in sophisticated war game exercises inside the East Tennessee History Center and record your own family stories of ancestors and their involvement in the war. Activities will also be centered on the Mabry-Hazen House, Beck Cultural Center (unveiling of pertinent historical documents) Old Gray Cemetery and other historic cemeteries and fort sites around the city. A plaque noting the death of General Sanders will be unveiled (2:00 PM) at the Bijou Theatre – the site of his death. Ben Vereen will make an appearance near the Alex Haley Statue (Alex Haley Square) in Morningside Park.
Saturday’s activities conclude with the Peace Jubilee designed to echo and, to a degree, replicate the 1890 gathering in Knoxville of veterans from both sides of the conflict. “In the spirit of the 1890 Blue and Gray Reunion, Confederates and Unionists will put aside old differences and come together again as one nation. Enjoy an evening of music, original speeches from the 1890 event, a Veterans Procession, and a candle light ceremony in memory of ancestors, concluding with a fireworks finale.” Food trucks will be on site at the World’s Fair Park for the proceedings.
So, good luck fitting in First Friday, the City People Home Tour, the Market Square Farmers’ Market and the Blue and Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee. I’ll be out in the thick of it and I hope you will be, as well.