I absolutely cannot let this past weekend go without comment. Last Saturday offered downtown residents a stunning array of possible activities. We had the Market Square Farmers’ Market, a Jazz Festival featuring all day jazz events at Scruffy City, a CD release party with Keith Brown and a Jazz Jaunt with Jack Neely, as well as another CD release party featuring Jubal at Saw Works Brewing Company. A tattoo festival inside the Holiday Inn and a home show inside the convention center drew crowds. And those are just the things I didn’t do.
Tomato Head had a big celebration on Market Square, but it was dominated by music, so I’ll save those pictures for later. I focused on the incredible outdoor activities happening in nearly every direction from downtown. Hundreds of yogis gathered on the World’s Fair Park and it was quite a sight to see. It made me want to learn yoga. I loved the fact that the leaders – who alternated during the event suggested moderate to complex movements, but always offered simpler alternatives as perfectly acceptable.
It was also very cool to see parents with their children, all body sizes and shapes, men and a mingling of people of various ethnicities. Mostly it was encouraging seeing so many people doing something healthy and active. And it was quite beautiful to watch the semi-choreographed moves from different perspectives.
Next I slipped down to the Dragon Boat Race on the river, encountering the train along the way. As I crossed the four empty lanes of Neyland, I was reminded all over again what a tragic waste that road is 357 days a year. That waterfront could be so much more. Again, I found many dozens, if not hundreds of people enjoying – and taking very seriously – paddling on the river. I overheard several intense discussions of strategy as well as analyses of what could have gone better during the various heats.
Children’s activities (a theme for the day) were provided and a festival-like atmosphere filled the space near Calhoun’s. Erin Donovan, who has to work harder on days like Saturday than anyone else in the city, emceed the event from two flights up the stairs leading to the Walnut Street pedestrian walk-over. That’s where I saw the camera with the lens that will not stop. Most impressive.
I walked from the river to the Langley Building, in the center of downtown (next to the new garage), to look into the rappelling, which was apparently a very successful fundraiser for restoration house. In a word: scary. It would take a lot to get me to drop off a building that high. Maybe like a fire on top. But the rappellers seemed to have a great time and no one got hurt, that I know of.
Again, children’s activities, including a climbing wall (perfect) and inflatables made for happy children. The block between the building and the garage were closed for the event, and maybe that’s an idea going forward for small street events, as it’s a rarely used street during the week, let alone during the weekend.
From there I walked to Emory Place for the fantastic block party put together by Whitney Manahan (and a partner whose name I did not catch). Whitney first told me about her plans for a block party when I interviewed her nearly a year ago about her Lost Knox Tumbler, which you should definitely visit if you haven’t already. She saw it through and I heard only good things from vendors and performers.
Crafty Bastard served up beer from their (not-quite-open) tasting room and brewery. That was a big draw and also highlighted one of the few downsides to the festival: beer could not be taken throughout the block like it can (and was at the time) on Market Square. It’s an odd edict that came down from the city which, hopefully, can be worked out before next year. Food Trucks and numerous other vendors sold their wares, while businesses opened for the day.
Children played croquet and ran around with the balloons. I also walked around the nearby streets, checking in on P. with her garage sale. Check out the body on that woman! She was quite proud of her tanned figure. It’s the building which will soon be Remedy Coffee and Makers’ Donuts.
The area has so much character and so much potential. You can see some of the iconic sights in the photographs here. The store fronts lining Central, just around the corner are beautiful. In the other direction on Central are row homes and Knoxville High School, both slated for renovation and restoration. It’s an exciting time on the block.
The later afternoon and evening were devoted to music. I walked back to Market Square to hear Guy Marshall open up the Tomato Head birthday party and then walked back to the Block party to hear them again. I ended the night on Market Square with Scott Miller. I’ll have photographs of the music on Saturday (assuming all goes well).
In the end, it was a great day, illustrating how many people enjoy getting outdoors and being active. Which brings up the fact that each of you need to go to this link and vote – today and every day until the contest ends – so Knoxville will be acknowledged as the best outdoor destination. It brings with it some pretty nice media coverage we could use, so go vote (and vote, and vote).