Monday, August 29, 2011
Visiting Knoxville's Market Square
I have been on I-75 that passes through Knoxville, Tennessee a number of times but it has never been a destination for me until this past weekend. It is the scene of an obviously vital and growing city that is embracing new things while still holding on to the important cultural gems of the past. They are obvious animal lovers and appreciate their large farming community -- just north of the Blue Ridge mountains and south of the Cumberlands. When we arrived, we saw a bustling downtown district that was a perfect mix of old and new.
We walked a block over to Market Square, the home of a bi-weekly Farmer's Market and saw tents and vendors of all kinds catering to the gathering crowds. This is the site of the International Biscuit Festival each May, for art shows and downtown entertainment. Our first sights and sounds were of art shops, trendy restaurants and musicians with horns and guitars ready to delight, entertain and sustain us on a pleasant Saturday in Tennessee.
This is a perfect place to bring your pet for a walk. Most shops had pet watering bowls filled with fresh water outside and there were times we had to be careful not to treading on a dog resting in the shade, waiting for its owner to shop or finish a meal.
Kids decked out in bathing suits were playing in the fountains rising from the ground -- a very popular spot.
"Pick a card, any card." I chose not to, but at times this vendor was very crowded.
Yes, this is a big cat on a leash -- never seen one of those before.
Most booths had heirloom tomatoes. Above, Mr. Stripeys and Black Cherokees.
This vendor said we could try any of the hot peppers we wanted. He then smiled, knowing he wouldn't have any takers, especially after telling us that the Tennesse Cherry peppers were hotter than anything he had ever tasted. They are the small red peppers in a small square basket above the miniature yellow cherry tomatoes To the left of those are the Ghost peppers. I've heard they are one of the hottest peppers ever, but this guy claimed his Tennesee cherries were much hotter.
One of my favorites was the EatYourYard.biz vendor. They advocate growing edible fruit trees and plants rather than grass. They were recommending blueberries as one of the best plants.
There were so many tents with tomatoes and pretty vegetables.
And I really liked the way this market shared the skyline with semi-high rise buildings, green space and sculptures.
Above, a lighted archway and garden spot and at right people are gathered to try free samples of ice cream from a local farm selling $1 mini-ice cream cones.
The last stop was a trip through the Mast General Store back on the main street. I had never been to one and we could have used a few more hours to explore. They had everything from dry goods to clothing to a huge selection of bulk candies and country jams, jellies and mixes.
Knoxville is now on my list of places I am glad I finally stopped. I wouldn't mind going back one Saturday, maybe one May for some biscuits.