Open Streets Moves East – The Clouds Part

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

It was a slow start for Open Streets Knoxville this past Sunday. Rain had fallen all morning and after walking from home to the route on Magnolia, there was a notable absence of people. To be fair, I was a few minutes early, and I was soon joined by my friend Kristen, but as we walked down the middle of the road, it felt a bit eerie. Sort of post-apocalyptic.

Slowly that changed as vendors and others set up along the road and people began tentatively entering the streets. I was reminded of the first Open Streets Knoxville in which people could be seen glancing about as they left the sidewalks as if to ask, “Is this really ok?

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

We met the Appalachian Puppet Pageant, the fun parade organized by Cattywampus Puppet Council. Local students made most of the puppets in the parade and many of them joined the parade. A number of people simply walked along or biked along. It felt one part community parade, one part Pride Parade and one part just a crazy, creative and delightful burst of fun.

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Open Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

From stilt walkers to full-body and partial puppets and puppet heads, to people simply strolling or biking along, it was great fun and made the Open Streets event start to feel festive. Kristen got a bear hug from not-your-average bear. Creatures both recognizable and not passed by. One of them look a lot like Kelley Segars and another looked a lot like a great Tracy Jackson puppet. We loved the drums and trombone. The snake and many other puppets were exceptionally creative. The Sandsation Dance crew added flair, as always.

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Biscuits and Books: A Festival Mashup

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

As has been the custom with the Urban family the last few years, when this particular Saturday comes along I bounce back and forth between the International Biscuit Festival and the Children’s Festival of Reading, while the young Urbans spend most of their day with the authors, musicians and all-around fun on the World’s Fair Park with the Festival of Reading.

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

As in the past, I started with biscuits and, I have to say, this must be the best smelling event in the city. It’s also filled with happy people who don’t seem to mind standing in line to get those small fists-full of goodness. And, as it turns out, the lines weren’t nearly so long this year. To be sure, I saw two or three lines with a hundred or so people patiently waiting, but other tables could be approached relatively directly.

Some of the absence of lines seemed to be due to increased efficiency at many of the booths. Lots of biscuits were ready at the beginning and many of the booths seemed to have extra people to make sure it all flowed smoothly. The other variable seemed, at least to me, to be that the crowds were thinner. It would be a theme for the weekend and other events. I found it to be much more pleasant and over-all more manageable.

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, May 2017

There were also some deviations from the biscuit theme this year (though I may have missed them last year in the midst of the crowds).  Tsamma offered cold-pressed watermelon juice, for example. The watermelon theme continued with the presence of the honest-to-goodness National Watermelon Queen offering up slices of the juicy gourd. Lipton had a truck presence offering mango juice and had little tiki shelters and dangling chairs (in the shape of mangos?).

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Merchants of Beer Opens At Last!

It's been just under a year since I first wrote about the coming business. Originally slated to open last fall, that season gave way to winter and then most of spring passed. I've been asked about the business dozens of times in the interim. Some … [Continue reading]

Downtown Knoxville Ten Day Planner (5/21 – 5/30/2017)

If you want to be certain your event is included on this calendar, I’ll need your event two weeks in advance. The absolute best way to make sure I include your event is to make a FB event and invite me – two weeks in advance. My FB “events” are the … [Continue reading]

Yes, Knoxville, They Are Open: A Look Inside Recently Opened Businesses

I love letting you know when something new is coming to downtown, giving you the backstory on the people behind the business and spreading the pre-opening excitement just a bit. That said, I sometimes hear that readers knew a business was going to … [Continue reading]