The forecast was sketchy and we’ve all seen what the havoc of very bad weather descend on Knoxville Opera’s Rossini Festival in the past. This time, other than a few light showers and sprinkles, the rain held off and the cloud cover kept the temperatures cool for most of the day, giving the festival a pretty good weather day.
The festival was moved from Gay Street this year and that gave it a different feel. I thought it worked quite nicely, but I missed having it on Gay Street. I’d love to see it on Gay Street, but with vendors back-to-back in the center of the road making two corridors, but not blocking the businesses. There are probably logistical problems to the idea, but I’d love to see it considered.
The new footprint seemed to work pretty well, with Market Square, Krutch Park extention and the parking lot across from the Bijou utilized in a pretty dense fashion, with the streets in between adding supporting connectors for food and craft vendors. There was one spot along Market that got pretty clogged and I wondered if the inflatables couldn’t have been pushed a bit further from the Market Square stage to allow for bigger crowds there, but it mostly seemed to be serviceable.
Given the change location, it was a bit hard to compare from one year to another. It seemed there was a wider range of international food vendors, to me, and there seemed to be less visual art, but it’s hard to say if that is accurate or just an impression colored by the changes.
In addition to the food, of course, the music is the big attraction of the festival. With family in tow, I didn’t quite make it to all the music I might have liked, but we saw parts of a number of performances, including a bit of dancing. The Market Square stage served as the spot for dancing, Krutch Park served as the instrumental stage, though there was instrumental music, else where, as well.
I think my favorite stage may have been the Market Street Stage with its beautiful location on one of my favorite blocks and its beautiful backdrop. We listened to Loving Strings there and really enjoyed their performance, especially the section of the Brandenburg Concerto they played.
We pretty much ended our festival day with the Gay Men’s Chorus, which we always enjoy. It’s been fun to see the choir grow in number and improve in skill over the years. They always deliver some fun (Sweet Caroline!) and some poignancy (Imagine). The crowd embraced them, as always and it was a fun ending to our day.