Dogwood Arts Festival, World's Fair Park, Knoxville, April 2023
Knoxville’s signature festival, The Dogwood Arts Festival, bloomed on the World’s Fair Park Performance Lawn this past weekend. The annual festival, which has been a spring rite in one form or another in Knoxville since 1961, presents a wide range of carefully selected artists working across mediums. Two stages also provided music, with the World’s Fair Amphitheater used this year for an additional stage.
The forecast did not look favorable early in the week. A complete washout for the three-day event loomed. When the weekend arrived, only Friday was significantly wet. The sun shined in full force Saturday (when we attended) and Sunday. Saturday was our window for attendance and I went twice, first with Urban Boy around opening time and later with a larger group of the Urban Family.
For Urban Boy it was a first experience. He’s eight and, like so many his age, he’s missed a lot in the last several years due the cancellations caused by the pandemic. His memory of festivals in the “before time” are pretty limited. I enjoyed exposing him to a great festival and to the art in every direction. I pretty much let him dictate the first foray into the festival and he found lots of art he loved.
The festival truly offers art for everyone. The range of mediums, from clay to stone and metal sculptures, photography, painting, woodwork, glass dazzles. The prices also range widely. Urban Boy found art he loved that costed thousands, but he found other pieces he liked that were less than $100. He gravitated toward art involving animals, or “critters” as he likes to say. He particularly like Marissa Ray’s painting of a blue jay in a suit, and Nature of Metal’s wasp and accompanying lighting nest.
He enjoyed a little coloring, but wasn’t much interested in the other children’s activities. Lots of kids busily worked through the children’s area. My favorite child-spotting was the three precious children waving their paper flags to the music at the stage. I also spotted a mother and daughter dancing in front of the stage and it brought back a lot of memories of when I used to dance at these events with a little girl.
We enjoyed the music and both Urban Boy and Urban Girl gravitated toward the plants. Several vendors offered plants for sale and our young ones have gotten into the idea of building a plant collection in their bedrooms. So far the plants survive, but I’m not making bets on the long-term prospects of the vegetation. They favor succulents and he particular likes cacti (they both picked up several), so maybe the low maintenance bent will be their salvation.
There are more festivals to come, but this one feels like the end to the first blush of festivals we get every year. In truth, they stretch out through the fall, so we have plenty more to enjoy. For now, it settles a bit and we fall into the downtown rhythm of Nourish Knoxville’s Wednesday and Saturday Farmer’s Market, Tuesday night jazz on the Market Square Stage and more. It’s a great time to be in Knoxville.
The full gallery of photos is included below. Just click to get a closer look.