There was a lot going on in downtown Knoxville this weekend. Saturday, particularly, was the point of intersection for multiple events that could put a squeeze on downtown parking. The Orange and White game drew somewhere between 40,000 and 65,000, depending on who you believe, and many of them parked downtown. The annual Dogwood Arts Chalk Walk always draws tens of thousands and makes for difficult passage through Market Square.
Drawing crowds away from Market Square was part of the plan behind the Sidewalk Sideshow sponsored by Downtown Knoxville CBID, the Old City Association and City People. Activities spread from Krutch Park Extension, down Gay Street to the soft opening of the new Stairway and down into the heart of the Old City where Central and Jackson were closed to automobile traffic.
That’s a lot of space to cover and the Urban Family, after watching the chalk art for the morning, tried to take it all in. We looked into Krutch Park where a circus free-play area was set up. Unfortunately, we missed the kid unicyclists, but we enjoyed the rhythms of the Afro-Brazilian Dance Fighting group beside Mast, caught the Kilwin’s soft opening with the moose and enjoyed some Old City Buskers outside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center.
We took more than one pass at the Knox Areal Artists ribbon dancing and more. The strength required for such a thing is pretty amazing. I noted several points in routines in which I would have officially been stranded upside down until somebody kindly cut the ribbon. This was far-and-away Urban Girl’s favorite part of the event. We also encountered the Beyond Wings Team stilt walking through the spot and Urban Girl wanted those wings pretty badly.
Urban Daughter really dug the sounds of Good Guy Collective at the corner of Gay and Jackson with the groovy music and Jarius’ verbal stylings. From there we opted to check out the newly refurbished stair case and the Urban Children loved it as we headed into the Old City.
Urban Girl got her fashion on with face painting at Awaken and hair chalk at Lox. Duly decked, we proceeded to the heart of the Old City and enjoyed the Trap Cardio Fitness group and The Cosmic Collective. The later is a group from Nashville with a clear New Orleans tilt to their Dixieland Jazz. It did my heart good to hear a little music from the coast and it makes me wish we had a little more of that for a local option.
The highlight of the Old City portion of the Sidewalk Sideshow was the Beale Street Flippers, who were pretty amazing. The group started out busking with their acrobatics on Beale Street and worked their way to become featured half-time entertainment for the Memphis Grizzlies and others, translating their passion to a living.
The crowds for all of the above were solid, if not what they could have been. Here’s hoping the sponsors involved continue the event in coming years and it grows from this small beginning. Sometime Saturday afternoon, I found myself thinking how cool it would be if the Old City closed its crossroads every Saturday for a street party – even with simply lots of buskers. And what better time to do it when Jackson is about to be interrupted for eighteen months.
Go to the Inside of Knoxville FB page a bit later for more photographs. And stay tuned for coverage from the Chalk Walk.