SouthFest Aims to Give South Knoxville a Boost

Call it the mother of all cash mobs, aka Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s DIY economic booster program for South Knoxville. This weekend, you can support our brethren south of the river by taking your dollars to SouthFest. That’s right—it’s a two-day call to wallets, not so much for charity, but for the livelihoods of South Knoxville businesses that have been cut off from the rest of the city by the never-ending closure of the Henley Bridge.

“There’s a perception in other parts of the county that it’s just too hard to get to South Knoxville because of the extended bridge closure,” Burchett says in a SouthFest announcement. “We want to bring people out south for this event so they’ll realize the detour is not hard to navigate.”

Indeed it’s not—just go across the Gay Street Bridge or the South Knoxville Bridge (or, more officially, the “James C. Ford Memorial Bridge”) via the James White Parkway. Of course, that will require some simple right-hand turns to get to Chapman Highway, but we’re confident you can master your GPS. And, once you locate the festival, you might find some cool stuff unique to South Knoxville that warrants a return trip.

There are two main areas of SouthFest: the SouthFest Stage at Emery’s 5 & 10 (4014 Chapman Highway) and the Disc Exchange/Wee Care Shoppe plaza (2615 Chapman Highway).

The opening ceremonies kick things off on Friday, April 12, at 4:30 p.m. at the SouthFest Stage; Justin Harmin will play the blues at 5 p.m., and country artist Homer Hart performs at 6:15 p.m. Meanwhile, over at the Disc Exchange, the Tim Lee 3 will rock the house at 4 p.m., and Hotshot Freight Train takes the stage at 7 p.m.; there will also be a “UnitedHealthcare Kids Zone” in the parking lot. And, down Chapman Highway, at the Knox County Public Library (4500 Chapman Highway), you can catch an outdoor screening of local fave flick October Sky at 8:15 p.m.

On Saturday, April 13, it’s an all-day event, starting at 10 a.m. at the SouthFest Stage with the South Opry Band; then there’s the Knoxville Songwriters Association (11 a.m.), the Early Bird Special Band (12:30 p.m.), Wesley Pelle (2 p.m.), and Phoenix Stone (3:15 p.m.). Over at the Disc Exchange parking lot, the Shriners Circus Act starts its thing at 10 a.m.; performers inside the store include Greg Horne (1 p.m.), Robinella (2 p.m.), and—yes!—Con Hunley (3 p.m.).

Also on Saturday: Starting at 10 a.m., an array of South Knoxville businesses will also be participating in a “sidewalk sale,” from Tea & Treasures to Berry Funeral Home (!). The Appalachian Mountain Bike Association will be hosting “Tour de South” bike rides starting at 10:30 a.m. A car show will be held at 4221 Chapman Highway. And then there’s also something called “Meet the Fleet,” which remains mysteriously undescribed.

Go to and click on the SouthFest logo for more details.

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Comments » 1

davidallanhoward writes:

While traveling through the SouthFest area this afternoon I could not help but notice that City of Knoxville employees were blocking off lanes of Chapman Highway to provide additional space along the roadway for vendors and other SouthFest-related activities.

I find all of this to be very curious since both Mayors (Burchett & Rogero) recently expressed their opposition to the completion of the James White Parkway and appear determined to force thousands of vehicles using Chapman Highway solely as a THOROUGHFARE to remain on that corridor for years to come.

I dare say that if the Henley Bridge WAS actually in-service at this time the traffic jam which would have resulted from those lane closures/restrictions would have been E-P-I-C!

Completion of the James White Parkway will reduce the number of vehicles using Chapman Highway solely as a THROUGHFARE by half OR MORE and allow us to implement the Cumberland Avenue Streetscape “road diet” on this side of town.

I hope SouthFest reminds the City & County Administrations that South Knoxville’s Chapman Highway (like Cumberland Avenue) has the potential to become a true destination. Completing the James White Parkway is a BIG first-step towards unlocking that potential.

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