Artisans and Interested Hobbyists
East Tennessee is an exceptional part of the world to explore the works of plentiful inspiring artisans and hobbyists. Community members take pride in encouraging one another to go after a spark of interest. Classes are available all over the city and greater Knoxville area for those longing for peace and a simultaneous sense of achievement. Alongside Knoxville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have even older roots in the world of bluegrass, Americana, folk and country music (and newer roots being planted in the experimental music realm), pottery, photography, literature, carpentry, bird-watching, music and a variety of additional trades. The same goes for the local foods culture – there are small, but sustainable local food communities, including many restaurants, farms and Knoxville’s impressive Farmer’s Market. The Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas have even more access to several fresh food options.
Home of the UT Vols, an SEC-Top 10 school, the University of Tennessee’s football team is fire, and the people of East Tennessee really do bleed orange, as a result. Home games take place in the esteemed Neyland Stadium. Along with football, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the rowing teams are also top-rankers. Additionally, baseball and ice hockey are also solidly on the horizon here in East Tennessee – check out our national ice hockey team, the Ice Bears, as well as our baseball team, the Smokies. These games often pack the house and field and victory is not uncommon to our ice hockey and baseball teams!
The most stunning part of East Tennessee is, hands-down, the Great Smoky Mountains – and they are in your backyard when you live here! Whether you live in the city or good ol’ Rocky top is right outside of your window, the mountains surround around the area. The Great Smoky Mountains paint a beautiful and bright landscape to live amongst, day in and day out. The colors, the seasons, the weather, the water, the wildlife – East Tennessee is truly a magical realm within nature, and if you live here, you become an inhabitant of this very special realm.
You can live as close to or as far from the mountains as you would like – even if you lived in a downtown Knoxville loft (because maybe the city is more your pace), it would only take you 30 minutes to get to the Smokies. If you prefer to reside in the suburbs, you are still only looking at a 45-minute to an hour-long drive.
Aside from the Smokies, the Obed Scenic River is a gorgeous wilderness option, along with Ijams nature center (located within Knoxville) and House Mountain, just to name a few numerous options. At any rate, if you are an outdoors’ enthusiast or an outdoors’ appreciator from afar, the options for exploration and housing in East Tennessee’s nature-scape are limitless and within reach, encompassing a wide range of residential property – everything from 1900’s to minimalist-modern architecture.
The Arts Culture
Knoxville hosts several music, arts and food festivals in the South. The International Biscuit Festival is hosted every spring in the downtown district of the city. Chefs from all over the world come together to critique all biscuit submissions (you can enter, too!). During the festival, Market Square is lined from corner to corner with numerous vendors and biscuits made from a variety of recipes, ranging from classic buttermilk to spinach and goat cheese!
Along with a strong food culture, East Tennessee is also home to country/folk/honky tonk/Americana/roots festivals such as Rhythm N’ Blooms (which is part of the greater Dogwood Arts Festival), Bristol’s Rhythm N’ Roots, BLANKFest, Waynestock and Hungry Otter Fest, just to name a few. In another musical spectrum, AC Entertainment puts on the internationally-acclaimed Big Ears Festival – a lineup comprised of modern classical composers and experimental electronic artists, as well as legendary folk artists which takes place at some of the city’s finest event venues, such as the Tennessee Theatre, Bijou Theatre, Square Room, The Standard and the Knoxville Museum of Art. Headquartered in Downtown Knoxville, AC Entertainment is responsible for booking some of the biggest musical acts in the world right here in Knoxville, in addition to international booking – that includes everything from legacy, Hank III to indie-rockers, Grizzly Bear.
The historic Tennessee Theatre is located in Downtown Knoxville on Gay Street. It is a breath-taking 1920’s-era theatre that has been described by Rolling Stone as “the inside of a Faberge egg.” Across the street and a couple blocks down, there is another stunning and architecturally-inspiring historic theatre: the Bijou Theatre. Beyond those two venues, Knoxville and the rest of the East Tennessee area are filled with several more entertainment spaces such as The Red Piano, Scruffy City Hall, Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson – The Shed (it is quite a wondrous and marvelous venue), The Pines Theatre in Gatlinburg and many more. East Tennessee has several entertainment options – it also has a particularly strong scene for jazz, opera and orchestra with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Knoxville Opera and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Knoxville invites the works of all kinds of musical artists, ranging from classical to bluegrass to folk and country to modern experimental and electronic music and everything else.
Visit Knoxville is Knoxville’s famous, historic visitor’s center. It is also where WDVX, a nationally-acclaimed country/bluegrass/Americana radio station airs the “Blue Plate Special,” a Monday-Friday, open-to-the-public, in-studio performance of various local and national bands that perform daily at noon. There you can grab lunch from the deli inside, while taking advantage of an intimate seated environment and enjoy some good ol’ roots music. WDVX has also hosted indie-rockers, ambient noise-makers and other artists for the “Blue Plate Special” radio show.
The film culture in this area is growing rapidly, as well. In fact, if you feel like getting snazzy, there is a grand Regal Cinema Theatre located in the heart of downtown between the Tennessee Theatre and the Bijou Theatre – large, lovely and lively. For those whose attention is captivated by independent film releases, the Downtown West movie theatre in West Knoxville is a good bet to catch some of the lesser-known gems of the independent film world. As of August 2015, Knoxville has also welcomed the Public Cinema, an independent film distributing organization for the East Tennessee community. Screenings are open to the public and held at The Square Room, Pilot Light and the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA). The KMA is an art museum that thrives with exquisite traveling pieces by artists from all around the world. Exhibits revolve throughout the year and is currently housing a semi-permanent installation from the marvelous and mind-blowing glasswork of artist, Richard Jolly.
Dollywood is an entertainment homage to the area’s especially beloved, Dolly Parton. East Tennessee takes pride in the life and work of locally born-and-bred artist and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. Located in Pigeon Forge, Dollywood has its own quarters of East Tennessee, and you can easily be a part of it if you wish, or be completely removed.