South Knoxville businesses ready for kickoff of SouthFest

South Knoxville businesses ready for kickoff of SouthFest

Posted:
"A lot of businesses were depressed to hear that we're going to have to go through another football season and Christmas season with the bridge closed," said Allan Miller, owner of the Disc Exchange, located in South Knoxville. "A lot of businesses were depressed to hear that we're going to have to go through another football season and Christmas season with the bridge closed," said Allan Miller, owner of the Disc Exchange, located in South Knoxville.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There are just a few days left until the kickoff of SouthFest, set to begin Friday afternoon in South Knoxville.

Put on by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's office, the festival is a way to encourage people to visit and shop at local businesses south of the river, many of which have been struggling since the closure of the Henley Bridge more than two years ago.

Local businesses say they can't wait for SouthFest to get underway.

South Knoxville, a once thriving community, has seen a lot less traffic coming in since the bridge shut down, which translates to less cash coming in for small businesses in the area.

"A lot of businesses were depressed to hear that we're going to have to go through another football season and Christmas season with the bridge closed," said Allan Miller, owner of the Disc Exchange, located in South Knoxville.

For owners of local landmarks like the Disc Exchange and Emery 5 & 10, it's been tough, and still is.

"It's been difficult going through this, and there was a downturn in the economy when this hit, too. We're hoping people discover that it's really not that difficult to get over here," said Ron Emery, owner of Emery 5 & 10.

SouthFest is helping them see light at the end of the tunnel.

The festival, which will feature great food, live music and a car show, will serve as a big draw to get potential customers down south, and remind them there are a number of other routes to South Knoxville.

"It's more perception than it is reality. They only closed one out of the four bridges. It's not hard to get here," said Emery.

Business owners hope that the people SouthFest brings in will come back as repeat customers, once they see everything South Knoxville has to offer.

"It's fun to see new customers come in and see their excitement when they say, 'Wow, I didn't know you had all this'," said Emery.

"We're just hoping people who are not familiar with the area will come down here discover some of their favorite businesses that they have not discovered yet," said Miller.

Businesses hope SouthFest can help keep the independent shops in this storied part of the city alive.

"If they're gone, you're going to have all these chains that are cookie cutter, where all the stores are the same," said Emery.

SouthFest is set for April 12 and 13, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit the SouthFest website.

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