Knoxville festival organizers see potential benefits of ‘Downtown Festival District’

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A day after the Knoxville city council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to create a “Downtown Festival District,” organizers of some the city’s biggest festivals are excited for the potential benefits.

RELATED: Knoxville ordinance to allow alcoholic drinks in ‘Downtown Festival District’ passes first reading

The ordinance, amending Section 4-76 of Chapter 4 of the Knoxville City Code, would allow attendees to have open alcoholic drinks on public property.

Currently, there are not clearly marked areas in downtown — the ordinance amendment would change that.

“We were nervous because we weren’t sure how we were going to make it happen. Turns out it’s going to be even better for us,” said Chandle Turbyville, one of the organizers of the Knox St. Patrick’s Parade and Cel-O’bragh-tion.

The Knoxville St. Patrick’s Parade would potentially be the first event under the amended ordinance.

Already, organizers are working ahead to prepare — if it officially passes.

This year, the event will feature beer, wine, and whiskey. Organizers are excited for what would be the newly created “Downtown Festival District” because it would expand the event’s footprint.

“It’s gonna have a better flow. Where the band is gonna be, we’re gonna have more room for our spectators to hang out, walk to food trucks. It’s going to expand our event,” said Turbyville.

Other festivals, like The Knoxville Opera Rossini Festival International Street Fair and The Dogwood Arts Festival, are set for April 2020.

Map of the ‘Downtown Festival District’ as provided to City Council.

The Rossini Festival on Saturday April 18, 2020, will continue to sell beer as in year’s past.

“The Rossini festival will undoubtedly use every inch of the footprint because we’ve grown over last 19 years to a couple blocks, to almost all of downtown if we’re allowed to use it,” said Brian Salesky, the Executive and Artistic Director for the Knoxville Opera.

Salesky says in 2019, the festival brought 50,000 people to the downtown area– he’s not expecting the ‘Downtown Festival District’ to impact the number of attendees, but rather, give the festival consistency among all downtown events.

“It’s critical, not only for the Rossini festival but for all downtown festivals that serve alcohol beverages and have them drink them In the footprint of our festivals.”

Brian Salesky, Executive and Artistic Director Knoxville Opera

The Dogwood Arts Festival, April 24-26, 2020 won’t use the full outlined “Downtown Festival District” but will benefit in other ways.

“For more festival-goers to attend and have stuff to look forward to. And of course for the vendors. For us the artists and musicians to benefit, anything that impacts them in a positive way, is great,” said Channon Herron, Media Coordinator for Dogwood Arts.

The ordinance amendment does not include Krutch Park or the Krutch Park extension.

MORE: Knoxville city council to discuss creation of ‘Downtown Festival District’ for open alcoholic beverages

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