Despite rain, thousands attend Knoxville's 12th Annual Rossini F

Despite rain, thousands attend Knoxville's 12th Annual Rossini Festival


6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Thousands of people filled downtown Knoxville Saturday for the 12th Annual Rossini Festival.

Put on by the Knoxville Opera, the Italian street fair runs down Gay Street.

Saturday's rainfall put a bit of a damper on the outdoor event, but locals would not let the downpour deter them from enjoying the festival.

The free, family event is all about celebrating the performing arts, with more than 800 entertainers showcased this year.

Nearly 200 vendors were also set up along the street, with everything from locally made products to international cuisine.

"We like to think of it as a gift to the city of Knoxville," said Rossini Festival Chairperson Cindy Hatcher.

"I like to watch people sing and do their acts. The food is great," said Prasad Hutter of Knoxville.

Mixed in with all the Knoxville culture this year though was a whole lot of umbrellas, as rain poured down most of the day.

While organizers do believe the rain will prevent them from topping last year's attendance of 100,000 people, they still estimate around 75,000 turned out Saturday.

"Even if it is a little wet, it's still a great, great festival," said Hatcher.

We talked to several families who braved the rain.

Jacquelynn Pipkin and her husband enjoyed the fun with their four young children.

"Rain or shine, we will have fun. They'll stomp in the rain and have a good time. Why not," said Pipkin.

Pipkin says a little umbrella-holding wasn't going to stop them from coming out.

"We're kind of getting our bearings on Knoxville and getting out and about and seeing what the community has to offer is really cool," said Pipkin.

This year's event is actually the biggest the Rossini Festival has ever been.

It's so big in fact, it has outgrown Gay Street, it's home for the last 12 year.

Starting next year, it will be set up on Henley Street.

"It's going to be a fantastic new venue for us," said Hatcher.

"I remember when this was a small little thing that only took up a block and now it's like on Market Square, Gay Street and all over. It's good," said Hutter.

Next year, the Rossini Festival will be set up in both the north and southbound lanes of Henley Street, from Main Street to Clinch Avenue.

The event is also a big fundraiser for the Knoxville Opera, which relies heavily on donations.

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