CONCERTS & FESTIVALS
May 28-30, Crawford, Tenn.
Three days of Americana, bluegrass, blues, roots and folk, and singer/songwriters including acts such as R.B. Morris with Hector Qirko, Malcolm Holcombe, The Black Lillies, and Blue Mother Tupelo. During the festival, patrons can camp along the Obey River or come just for the day.
First Farmers and Merchants Train Stop Storytelling Festival
June 3-4, Columbia, Tenn. (931-375-6103)
Held in Maury County Park, the Farmers and Merchants Train Stop Storytelling Festival features traditional storytelling, ensemble storytelling, improvisational storytelling and storytelling in song, along with many other family-friendly activities.
June 10-13, Manchester, Tenn.
One of the biggest music festivals in the country, produced by Knoxville's own AC Entertainment, it's nearly impossible to not have heard at least one firsthand account of Bonnaroo. And with attendees ranging from those fresh out of high school to retirees, the festival is known for its diversity. Musical acts this year include Jay-Z, LCD Soundsystem, Stevie Wonder, and many more.
June 12, Caryville, Tenn.
This all-day festival features three stages of music including traditional old-time, blues, gospel, mountain jazz, and bluegrass, plus storytelling and theater and a kid's fun zone with lots of activities for children. Art and handmade crafts will be sold and a judged art and quilt show will be in the recreation center. Regional food vendors will be serving up a variety of Southern cooking.
June 18-19, Oak Ridge
The Secret City Festival has won multiple awards over the past few years, such as being named a 2009 Top 100 Event by the American Bus Association and being honored as the 2007 Festival of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society. This year's performers include Chubby Checker, an exhibit at the American Museum of Science & Energy featuring Snoopy as the WW I Flying Ace, and many more. This year's free events include the South's largest World War II reenactment, multiple arts and crafts, and other family-oriented activities.
July 3-4, Jonesborough, Tenn.
Celebrating its 40th year, the event is a patriotic celebration of Jonesborough's heritage in agriculture and storytelling. Visit villages from different periods in time, see traditional handmade crafts and enjoy a wide variety of free concerts and children's activities.
July 9-10, Louisville, Ky.
The goal of Forecastle is to establish a cultural entertainment medium by combining music, culture, and activism. Merging entertainment with education, Forecastle unites the creative and activist communities of the Midwest, while building a new festival model in the United States. This year's lineup includes DEVO, The Flaming Lips, Spoon and many more.
July 17-18, Cowan, Tenn.
Located in an indoor event complex built in the 1920s and now known as Monterey Station, the Book Fair allows each attendee to bring up to three books for a dealer appraisal. Lecturers include Dr. Edwin Brown, Dr. Michael Bradley, Larry Woods, Dr. David B. Coe, and Rev. Dr. Christopher Bryan.
July 23-25, Grainger County, Tenn.
Organized in 1992 to showcase Grainger County tomatoes, the festival's mission is to celebrate all Grainger County agricultural products—especially the Grainger County tomato—and to promote the many local artists and craftsmen in the area. Recently, the event has grown into one of the largest free festivals in East Tennessee. The festival is always the last full weekend in July.
August 13-14, Pigeon Forge
Stringtime in the Smokies is a celebration of Americana Music and features a wide variety of free bluegrass. And since the event is sponsored by Knoxville's own WDVX, you can be sure that the lineup will offer something for everyone.
OUTDOOR RECREATION IDEAS IN KNOXVILLE
Want to get out in a canoe this summer? Never tried it before? You're in luck! The City of Knoxville has teamed up with Ijams Nature Center to offer guided canoe tours of the Tennessee River; $20 per person gets you a canoe for the day and lunch. There are 10 dates for this summer, check the City of Knoxville website, for the schedule. You can also call 3-1-1 to make reservations.
A leisure sport that's been gaining popularity over the last view years, it has five courses in Knoxville: Admiral Farragut, Carl Yearwood, Morningside, The Mounds, and Victor Ashe parks. Visit knoxdiscgolf.org for events, directions to parks, equipment providers and rules.
Ah, fishing, perhaps the oldest time-passing activity known to man. Knoxville's extensive waterways offer plenty of great spots for fishing, you just have to make sure to get a permit. Fishing licenses can be obtained at sporting goods stores, hardware stores, boat docks, online or at a TWRA office. Once you're legal, check out this list of Knoxville's finest fishing spots.
If you need an excuse to wear those gaudy, plaid knickerbockers that have been taking up space in your closet, consider golf. Knoxville actually has a plenty of places to putt. There's the Knoxville Municipal Golf Course on Schaad Road, the Whittle Springs Golf Course in Northeast Knoxville and Williams Creek Golf Course in East Knoxville. For hours and directions visit the city website. And don't forget about Maryville—it has Royal Oaks right off 411, and Lambert Acres off Tuckaleechee Pike.
Knoxville has over 41 miles of paved greenway trails that are begging to be walked, jogged, or ridden this summer. The trails take you through scenic routes and near some of our beautiful streams and rivers. It's a great way to take in Knoxville's exquisite nature and get some exercise. If you don't want to hoof it, pedal it. If you don't own a bike, the city has you covered. River Sports Outfitters have been contracted to rent bikes during the summer and fall. Bikes can be rented at Volunteer Landing off of Neyland Drive.
So canoeing caught your eye, but you want something more intense. Regatta! The Knoxville Rowing Association will have you out on the water in no time. It's open to rowers of any experience level and offers memberships to recreational and competitive rowers. Visit knoxrowing.com for more information.
Looking for a contact sport without any wimpy protective gear? Try Rugby. Knoxville has rugby programs for kids and adults. For youth rugby see the Smoky Mountain Athletic Club, smacrugby.com. As for adult leagues, there's the Knoxville Rugby Club. To find out more about the KRC Possums visit knoxvillerugby.com.
Tired of the cops running you off your favorite skate spot? Want to avoid vandalism charges for grinding a public handrail? The City of Knoxville has got a place for you. The first public Knoxville Skate Park was opened in Knoxville in 2008; the Tony Hawk Foundation facility is located in Tyson Park and is equipped with a bank plaza and several types of pools. And in April, the city unveiled a 7,000 square-foot skate plaza in Fountain City at the corner of Maple Drive and Knox Road. Don't forget your helmet, otherwise you'll get a $100 ticket.
The are 68 public tennis courts in the area, all conveniently located near schools, parks, or rec centers. For a complete listing see the city website. If you need to brush up on your tennis skills, there's some summer tennis camps starting in May and ending in August. Enrollment forms and information can also be found on the website.
Youth Hockey School
If the Ice Bears have inspired your kids to pick up a stick and puck, you don't have to wait till winter to get them on the ice. The hockey class runs July 19-22. Students will learn the fundamentals of hockey, like skating, stick handling, passing and shooting. Visit knoxvilleicebears.com for cost and schedule.
Plus, Some Outdoorsy Programs:
Knox County is sponsoring an eight-week program designed to educate participants about healthy eating habits and offer opportunities for physical activity. Visit knoxcounty.org/health to learn more and register.
So you like getting out doors, but you're short on friends to join you. Outdoor Knoxville can help. The program, presented by River Sports Outfitters, has a variety of outdoor events all summer long—everything from biking to boating, camping to climbing. Check the website, outdoorknoxville.com, for lists of events, plus classes and workshops, online communities and stories and articles about others' outdoor experiences.
LOCAL FAMILY FUN
461 West Outer Dr., Oak Ridge (482-1074)
A great place to take a day trip, the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge is a dynamic cultural center that features innovative exhibitions, programs and workshops for kids of all ages. Science, art and history are emphasized in hands-on learning opportunities that encourage young people to understand their cultural heritage, environment and the world around them. Parents and educators are encouraged to utilize the museum's numerous resources—over 20,000 objects, archival holdings, audio/video tapes, books and magazines.
800 Tyson St. (599-5284)
The Children's Theatre of Knoxville is a non-profit corporation dedicated to producing meaningful theatrical productions for children and families, providing advanced theatrical instruction for children, and serving the community through drama-related outreach programs. The company also offers multiple summer camps that include special topics such as musical theatre and elementary acting. Check out their website for specific camps and times.
516 North Beaman St. (594-1494)
The East Tennessee Discovery Center features interactive exhibits, and activities include life, physical and earth sciences. Displays include a human kaleidoscope, a shadow box and collections of living and non-living animals. The center also offers summer camps and partnerships with homeschool groups.
World's Fair Park Dr.
Located directly across the street from the Knoxville Museum of Art, Fort Kid has been a staple for Knoxville's playground aficionados for years. And true to its name, this child's dream land is full of pint sized forts with secret passageways and hidden slides. So why not pack a picnic and check it out?
2915 Island Home Ave. (577-4717)
Celebrating its 100th anniversary with Ijamsfest on June 5, Ijams Nature Center's mission is to develop and maintain the park as a wildlife sanctuary. The center seeks to increase knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the natural world by providing quality environmental educational programs and nature-related experiences for all people. Ijams offers multiple activities geared toward children, including family public programs such as "nature's yuckiest" and "owl prowls."
You know the library is a great place to pick up children's books, explore new authors and receive great advice from librarians on what to read, but it also offers multiple family-friendly activities. There are storytimes for children of various ages, special monthly children's programs including puppet shows, musical sing-a-longs, and great crafts, and even special events (like the Children's Festival of Reading, Imagination Library Week, or special presentations like "Seussical the Musical"). With over 18 locations, there's always something great to do at the library.
1050 World's Fair Park Dr. (525-6101 ext. 226)
The KMA's Summer Art Academy is designed to expand children's creativity by providing age-appropriate art projects that encourage experimentation with various art materials. Each week offers a different class and new project. Morning classes are geared toward children ages 3-12, while afternoon classes are reserved for those 13 and up. Classes begin June 7 and continue through July 30.
Knoxville's Public Fountains
Every summer it seems like Knoxville's selection of conveniently located fountains has expanded. And why not? When the heat becomes unbearable, there's nothing more refreshing than getting soaked in public. The World's Fair Park, Market Square, and Volunteer Landing boast multiple fountains that are perfect for the kids and provide the adults with plenty to keep themselves occupied. But who says that fountains are just for the kids?
3500 Knoxville Zoo Dr. (637-5331)
Beyond all the animals and play areas like Wee Play Zoo and Kids Cove, there are educational programs and special events to enjoy as well—check the Zoo's website for updates.
Neyland Dr., 524-9411
Jump aboard the Three Rivers Rambler near Calhoun's and enjoy a 90-minute trip along the Tennessee River. The Rambler travels past historical sites to the "Three Rivers Trestle" where the French Broad and Holston rivers join to form the Tennessee River. On July 4 weekend, a newly restored 1890 steam engine will be unveiled.
2010 Highway 58, Oak Ridge (241-2140)
The round trip on this 1950s vintage Alco diesel locomotive is 14 miles and lasts about one hour. The train runs on the first and third Saturday of each month from April through September and is a great way to beat the heat as well as take the kids on a historical ride.
This Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kids to spend a weekday morning in the summer. And with an extensive selection of G and PG films, it's hard not to find a movie that everyone in the family will enjoy. Tickets for the 2010 Free Family Film Festival are exclusively available at select theatres' box offices on the day of the show.
NEARBY ATTRACTIONS & ROAD TRIPS
The Castle (Lee Shirley Road, Maryville)
One man's divine inspiration has made this "castle" a local attraction. It was born from the efforts of Junior Banks in Greenback, Tenn., who started working on the foundation in 1992 after the unexpected death of his brother. Currently in his 60s, he has built the structure out of scraps and donated brick. Although still a work in progress, the completed endeavors are a work to behold. The brick and concrete block castle is maybe 30 feet tall, with ramparts on either end, and the outside castle walls stretch approximately 200 feet.
Highlander Center (New Market)
For 78 years, the Highlander Center has been a grassroots organization for social justice. The center had a defining history with work in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and school desegregation. Its work continues with economic, international, racial, and environmental justice. They also offer youth leadership programs. Summer programs and tours are available on Highlander's beautiful, panoramic grounds. Group tours are also available. More info: highlandercenter.org.
The Lost Sea (Sweetwater)
Tennessee has the most known cave formations in the country, so it's really not surprising that we would boast the Guinness World Record for America's largest underground lake. Sweetwater is the site of this impressive display of geological forces, which is an educational, yet fun, trip for the family. For the more adventurous, spelunking excursions are also available.
Minister's Treehouse (Crossville)
Minister Horace Burgess's 97-foot-tall tree house and church is a true sight to behold. Claiming that God told him in 1994, "If you build a tree house, I'll see that you never run out of material," the humble minister began building what would take 14 years and only $12,000 to complete. The house is supported by six oak trees and contains 80 rooms and is crowned with a large bell tower. The Minister's Treehouse is continuously open to the public.
Museum of Appalachia (Clinton)
Committed to instilling "a greater knowledge of and appreciation for our rich and colorful Appalachian heritage," the Museum of Appalachia has provided educational events for visitors interested in the rich history and culture of the Appalachia region.
Pittman Center (near Gatlinburg)
The Pittman Center community, located minutes away from Gatlinburg, provides a blend of history, culture, and natural scenic beauty. The center offers much to do and see including fishing, hiking, swimming, golfing, bird watching, wildlife viewing, and visitation of the historic City Hall. Having the entrance to the Smoky Mountains via the Greenbriar entrance offers additional recreation choices to visitors as well.
Sergeant York Grist Mill (Pall Mall)
The historic World War I hero Sgt. Alvin C. York was a native of Pall Mall, Tennessee. Being one of the most decorated soldiers of the war, York's East Tennessee farm and the grist mill he operated for many years on the banks of the Wolf River have become attractions celebrating his legacy. The mill provides a full day of activities including VIP remarks, a presentation of current York research at a historic battleground in France, WW I interpretation and encampment, tours and hikes of historic structures, a children's area, and many local food and craft vendors.
Take a walk into Tennessee's revolutionary period at Sycamore Shoals and the Watauga River Valley. Here was the site of one of the earliest settlements outside of the 13 original English colonies. It was also here that the first majority-rule system of American democratic government was formed in 1772. The fort that was erected was commanded by numerous Tennessee state heroes, the most widely known being John Sevier. Events throughout the summer make Sycamore Shoals an always lively place to be visit.
Fields of the Wood (Murphy, N.C.)
In 1945, church members of Murphy built the 300-foot-wide rendering of the World's Largest Ten Commandments on the side of a massive hill, which just happen to be so large that they're visible from orbit. The site's welcome center provides maps to the Fields' other attractions as well, which include the World's Largest Testament, The All Nations Cross, and a replica of the Tomb of Jesus. Admission is free.
Max Patch (Pisgah National Forest, N.C.)
Located within Harmon's Den, in Pisgah National Forest, right across the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, Max Patch is a flower-covered mountaintop bald. A few miles drive through the scenic state park will bring you to its base, while a one-and-a-half mile walk up it will bring you to breathtaking views of the valleys below it. Located along the Appalachian Trail, trails lead from the crest to the valleys on either side. A great day hike for the outdoorsy adventurer.
Georgia Guidestones (Nuberg, Ga.)
The Georgia Guidestones are a Stonehenge replica of sorts, but also a time capsule, and a Rosetta Stone to mutant societies of the far-flung future. A man going by the apparently fake name of R.C. Christian reportedly left $50,000 in a local bank, told the locals that they would never see him again, and vanished forever. The citizens of Nuberg then erected what are now known as The Georgia Guidestones, on top of a hill in the middle of a cow pasture, which consist of four granite monoliths, each 19 feet tall. The main cluster was completed on March 22, 1980.
Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens (Pennville, Ga.)
This four-acre plot of land is home to Howard Finster's vision of a folk art masterpiece, a place called Paradise Gardens. Finster began building the gardens in 1961 using all sorts of recycled materials, such as bottles, glass, mirrors, bathtubs, rusted bicycles and the like. Also included on the property are a museum, the Finster Folk Art Gallery, and the impressive World's Folk Art Chapel. Open to the public and accommodating to tour groups, this folk art retreat is a summertime must-see.
Pasaquan (Buena Vista, Ga.)
Inspired by a vision during a fever-ridden illness in the 1930s, Georgia born artist Eddie Martin, aka St. EOM, built the grounds of Pasaquan. Taking 30 years to complete, Pasaquan is a folk-art castle that amazes visitors all year long. Although only open the first Saturday of each month for 2010, Pasaquan can accommodate large groups by reservation.