Rossini Festival 2012

Well, as I said, I had to tend to family business this weekend and missed all the goings on. I hope each of you had a great several days packed with parades, festivals, music and a little bit of activism or good-will activities as well.

I received an e-mail from a long-term reader and soon-to-be full-time resident of Knoxville regarding the festival and I asked if I might pass his thoughts and photographs along as today’s post. He graciously agreed. Many of you know Greg from his frequent comments over the last couple of years on this blog. His perspective is always a little different and maybe shaped by the fact that he has spent a good bit of time in a city just a bit larger than this one with a few more buildings, people and a place they call “Central Park.” Welcome to town, Greg and thanks for the photos and perspective.

His theory is that “Knoxville’s Rossini Festival is mostly about innovative ways to torture children for fun and profit.” While I’m sure he noticed the great music, good food and general great vibe downtown, he took particular notice of the various torture devices employed on our children. I’ll let him finish the perspective:


“First we have the water balls. Seal child inside, float on water, watch child fall.

“Next hang child from cords, lift into air, bounce.
“On to the land-based torture ball, a diabolical variation on the water-based balls.
Lastly …. the nefarious metal thingee. Strap in child, spin until barfs.”
It is possible that Greg was a bit hyper-focused on child torture in his report. I suspect there was great food, music and great crowds to watch. Send in your pictures or report if you’d like to flesh out his presentation a bit. In the meantime: Thanks for the photos and perspective, Greg.


  1. I loved Rossini this year! It was so incredibly pleasant to do the Farmer’s Market preview while listening to opera. I felt like I was in Italy. Amazing!

    I also loved the swing dancing on Gay Street, the different orchestras that played, and all the friendly vendors. I wasn’t happy that you had to get a food ticket before you could go to the vendors. I wanted to buy a hot dog, but no way did I want to stand in line to buy tickets and then stand in line to buy a hot dog. We went home and ordered delivery instead. Which was a shame, because the local vendors would have appreciated the sales. So I definitely think that is something that should be changed next year.

    • Knoxville Opera instituted the food tickets last year. Up until then, the opera company lost money every year staging the festival, while food vendors (and others) walked away with a profit and lots of mostly free advertising. With the tickets, the opera company gets a cut, which is only right, considering the major effort they put forth in assembling it, arranging talent, etc. And keep in mind, arts organizations in Knox County are not exactly rolling in dough.

    • The food tickets definitely cut into impulse sales. We were going to buy junk food from a vendor, but when we realized we’d have to buy tickets we went to a restaurant and got good food instead. Which I suppose was better for the downtown economy, and was certainly better for our health.

  2. I think most people of the adult persuasion will agree that Greg’s remarks seem definitely one-sided on the topic of the Rossini Festival street fair. As a former NYC resident myself, I’d have to inquire whether perhaps if he couldn’t see Central Park for all the trees.

    I should mention that Knoxville Opera loves feedback on what people like or don’t like about the street fair or other parts of the festival. My main comment this year would have to be on food vendors. Of course, while the opera company cannot control which vendors want to participate, there seemed to be a greater number of food vendors, but with substantially less variety and unique choices.

  3. The good-natured kids of Knoxville enjoyed their torture immensely. And even adults were strapping into the gyroscope thing and going for a spin.

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