Rossini Festival draws larger crowds to downtown Knoxville

Rossini Festival draws larger crowds to downtown Knoxville

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Large crowds headed downtown to check out what's becoming one of Knoxville's biggest outdoor festivals. Large crowds headed downtown to check out what's becoming one of Knoxville's biggest outdoor festivals.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville Opera's annual springtime Rossini Festival is taking over downtown. 

Organizers expect to draw between 70,000 and 100,000 visitors over the weekend.

Large crowds headed downtown to check out what's becoming one of Knoxville's biggest outdoor festivals.

"We got opera signers all across the nation, and I think it's great for Knoxville to experience that cultural experience for free," said Allison Easterday, event chair for the festival.

In order to grow the event, organizers are shifting the focus of the formerly all Italian-themed festival. Instead, this year Easterday said, the festival is a celebration of performing arts all across the world as well as a showcase of worldwide cuisine.

"But now the food is a little more broad, we're opening it up to French, Greek, and Vietnamese, hopefully the options on the street will be a little more broad for the public," Easterday said.  

For the first time, organizers have opened up the Krutch Park extension to wine tasting. Themed wine tastings will be held from 11:15 a.m. to 8:20 p.m. Saturday.

The new "Rossini Festival Wine Experience" was formed a partnership with the Chez Liberty Restaurant and local wine distributor, Constellation Wines.    

"We're really doing a lot of education with all the different wines and spirits that we have, making different drinks, and trying to appeal to every customer that comes down here," said Darrell Freeze, of Constellation Wines. 

The street festival will be held until 9:00 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.  

Everything will wrap up Sunday with a 2:30 p.m. matinee performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "Otello" at the Tennessee Theatre.

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