2019 Rossini Festival Moves from Gay Street, Avoids the Rain and Hits the Right Notes

Albi Belly Dance Troupe, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

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.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

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.

Knoxville Community Band, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Urban Girl and Boy, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Cedar Bluff Middle School Chorus, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

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.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

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.

Knoxville Opera Gospel Choir, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

HartStrings, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Loving Strings, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Loving Strings, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

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.

Maryville College Choir, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Jacquie Brecheen, soprano, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

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.

Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

Urban Brother and Urban Boy Sport Matching Shoes, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2019

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.

Comments

  1. does anyone know if the t development is going to be built or not. i was on hill ave. yesterday and there is construction going on where the t is supposed to go, but im not sure if they have started the t or if that is just something else going there to replace it. answers anyone please.

  2. Absolutely loved it. Much better than not having it at all. My kids had a blast in market square with all that fun stuff for them to bounce around in. And 5 bucks for an all day pass , what a deal. It’s always easy to find fault with something sure it could have been bigger and better, you can say that about anything. I’d like to say thank you to all the volunteers who started putting it together months ago and to those that started setting up at midnight Saturday morning and those that worked through the night Saturday to make it look like nothing had changed by Sunday morning. It amazes me. Great Job see you next year.

  3. Gail Mitchell says

    Ok I’m probably an oddball but I really liked it not on Gay street. Although I don’t think it was set up to really maximize the stage viewers seating or foot traffic interaction with vendors on the way to Mkt Sq. I did love the feel of a more neighborhood event while sitting among the tall trees, listening to the Loving Strings and Cookie. The main stage was great as always. Not so thrilled with the stage seating for the Gay Men’s Choir stage. That was not a great location for a stage. The parking lot with all the vendors and picnic tables opened right onto their stage and with only a few chairs and mostly standing viewers. The merging of the crowd from the vendors to the road made for congestion and difficulty viewing for those standing and watching. Maybe if the stage was set up in the parking lot with more seating. The same lot as the picnic tables. The vendors moving to the former stage location would allow for more room to sit and enjoy the stage. We were there from 3-730 and it seemed like there weren’t as many people as in years passed. We never waited in line for food and we hit many of the vendors. I was surprised how easy and fast it was with no lines. I think not closing Gay St. certainly helped with the the happy attitudes of those driving into our fair city for the event. I hope this event continues for many years to come its always such an awesome way to welcome spring with all the diverse music and performers of Knoxville. Thanks all

  4. John Brynda says

    It felt like a much smaller event, with fewer vendors. The Market Street Stage that you enjoyed felt to me like a claustrophobic view onto performers working in an alley. The Pilot stage (Church Ave @ Gay Street) had people constantly stepping through the crowd to get to the Bijou parking lot and food. And greasy cooking smoke wafting over the audience. The whole event forum just didn’t feel very well planned out. I look forward to Rossini every year, I’m glad the weather held off. (Saw you on the prowl, Alan, didn’t get the chance to say hi. )

  5. Stewart Smith says

    I volunteered for the 5th year this year. And yes I liked it on Gay Street better but I understand that with growth comes change. There is now a new hotel on Gay street with another in the works and one just off Gay street. Business as a whole has grown on the street and traffic congestion shows how important it is for downtown.
    Also unfortunately we live in a different time in regard to safety. By being spread out with manmade barriers such as building and natural barriers such as trees it would be more difficult for a deranged group or individual to wreak havoc. The festival makes a great target for those who hate diversity.

    The festival is a wonderful event made possible by many dedicated individuals who care about our city and opera. Hopefully people will understand the need for changes and continue to support and enjoy the Rossini Festival,

  6. Karen Sundback says

    The new arrangement felt way too cramped. The space between the vendors on Market Street was narrow and I didn’t want to stop and look at anything for fear of blocking traffic. The stage on Church Street did not have enough room for spectators which was a shame because that was where the opera singers performed – isn’t the festival supposed to be about opera? On the positive side, the Krutch Park Extension setup was very good for listening to the music. The type of music was appropriate for the space unlike St Patrick’s day when the music bounced off the building walls and was unbearably loud. I didn’t mind that the festival moved off Gay Street, but thought that the overall effect was hampered by lack of space.

  7. I did not like it as much this year either. Not being on Gay St. really made a difference to me. Seemed much more crowded and smaller. Maybe that was the plan.

  8. i didnt like it at all. it just didnt seem like the regular rossini festival at all. i guess im just used to the visual from gay st. but i didnt enjoy it. it just seemed like regular crowds during the dogwood festival in that area. and by the way, i sure do miss the dogwood arts festival parade we had for years. i think that was a big mistake to discontinue the parade. it was so special. and i think having the rossini festival in market square and the areas they had it in was a huge mistake. come on leaders of knoxville!

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