I hope each of you had a great holiday weekend. There were so many really cool things happening around downtown that it’s hard to cover it all. I enjoyed time with my family and I hope you did, too. My weekend hit an unexpected glitch when my computer decided it was too tired to continue. As of Friday night I became computerless. As of Sunday I bought a new Lenovo which is now delivering its first Inside of Knoxville Article. I love technology when it works. When it doesn’t I am not a happy Urban Guy.
So, I’ll run through some of the highlights I stumbled into, all of which I enjoyed very much. I’ll start with the crowds in town due to Destination Imagination. I absolutely love the crowds drawn to our city by this event. I looked for chances to help them find their way and to make sure they felt welcome and I hope you did the same. The economic impact of this influx of people must be massive. I saw them shopping, filling restaurants and making the city vibrant. I heard multiple languages during the final days of last week and into the weekend and a highlight for us was sitting on the patio at Market House Cafe, watching and listening as a group of women sang “Happy Birthday,” in what we assumed to be Japanese.
Several sink holes around downtown also made for an interesting lead into the long weekend. The one pictured here is in the James White Fort parking lot and has a number of spaces off limits. Another developed in the middle of Locust Street beside the fire station and that shut that street down a good bit of the end of the week. I was told there were others, though I’m not sure where they appeared. It’s a quirk of this bluff we live on and not an uncommon occurrence over the years.
Meanwhile, James White Fort was the scene of the celebration of the anniversary of the state of Franklin. Free admission to the fort was granted for the day and inside visitors found reinactors and the opportunity to learn about life in upper east Tennessee circa 1788. William Blount, John Sevier and James White were all on hand. A number of crafts and post-colonial era skills were demonstrated and life was presented as it would have been in that time.
James White Fort is a reconstruction of the first Knoxville home and the actual logs from the original home are found in one of the buildings on the site. It’s an asset that seems underutilized and often overlooked downtown, but it’s a great place to take guests for something entirely different from other entertainment options downtown without leaving the city. On the return trip I caught the trolley (the blue line), making an easy connection back into the city. This weekend will be another excellent event, perfect for guests or anyone interested in history, when James White Fort presents Tennessee Statehood Day. Admission is free.
Various members of our family enjoyed other downtown amenities, big and small. Urban Boy made his first trip to the fountains on Market Square and was decidedly underwhelmed by the experience. A second attempt found him making little forays closer to the fountains as he watched Urban Girl splashing about with delight.
Urban Brother joined us from Birmingham for most of the weekend and we covered as much territory as possible, trying to enjoy things new to downtown since his last visit. While we missed some things because so many businesses were closed on Monday for Memorial Day, we had a great time and found plenty to keep us moving. We had brunch at the Oliver Royale, which he proclaimed the best Knoxville brunch he’s had. We checked in on the Central Street Block Party on Sunday and I was happy he got to hear a few songs by Dixieghost. A good crowd gathered to hear several of Knoxville’s best bands, to enjoy some good food from several food trucks and to just hang out with friends.
We also stopped just down the road at Schulz Brau Brewing Company. Nico had the place rocking a soft opening on Sunday and without publicity managed to have several hundred people come through over the course of the afternoon and evening. While not overwhelming, a large crowd was on hand when I arrived and that with little-to-no publicity. A lot has changed, even since the article I wrote in March on its pending opening. The biergarten, specifically, has come a long way. On tap are their initial beers: Hefeweizen, Munich Dunkel and Schwarzbier, as well as several guest beers. They are open from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM Monday through Thursday and Noon to late on the weekends. Expect a grand opening soon.
We also enjoyed just hanging out downtown and it was pretty busy through both Sunday and Monday. We picked up some olive oil at Tree and Vine and spent a little time on the Scruffy City Hall Roof top, where Urban Brother loved the tables sculpted by Kelly Brown. We also enjoyed the fine confections inside Sugar Mama’s Bakery. We had to end the weekend with some sort of competition, so we played out our brotherly rivalry on the dart board at Harrogate’s Lounge, where I let him win so he’d feel good going home.
It was a great weekend and, as always, I think our city did itself proud.