A celebration of the arts took place in downtown Knoxville this weekend.
Market Square and Gay Street were closed down to make room for the Knoxville Opera's Rossini Festival. More than 100 vendors lined the pavement with booths showcasing artwork, clothing and other crafts. With the event being put on by the Knoxville Opera, music was to be expected and more than 800 entertainers performed at the festival. The festival appealed to a wide range of ages, with bounce houses for the kids and wine tasting for the adults.
The support of the vendors and festival-goers is what keeps Rossini Festival alive. With the estimated attendance numbers for the festival ranging from 60,000-100,000, it is no surprise that the event has been thriving for 13 years.
The festival made a good impression on first-time Rossini attendants.
"It's been, of course, a gorgeous day with lots of people," Alison Mistak, a vendor with Moja, said. "It's been great."
The artisan exhibits are a major part of the success of the festival. There is something for almost everyone at the booths. A few of the more popular booths offered unique handmade items like leather jewelry, clay pottery and scenic artwork.
People bounced from booth to booth shopping and taking in the craftsmanship of the artisan exhibits.
For some vendors, the festival was a chance to make a living off of doing something they love.
One such vendor was Rebecca Chappell. Her booth, dubbed The Sleepy Armadillo, featured flowing, vintage-looking clothing. Chappell takes unused fabrics and gives them an aged appearance by soaking them in tea and then ripping them.
Three years ago, Chappell quit her job because she found herself wanting to stay home all the time to sew.
"It's kind of like an addiction; I can't stop," Chappell said. "I don't have any money, but I have a lot of fun."
The majority of the food vendors offered food that one might find at a county fair. Funnel cakes, hot dogs and hamburgers could be purchased at multiple locations. A small both located near the end of the line of vendors offered treats that were baked for a particular purpose.
The Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble's bake sale booth was raising money to continue to perform across East Tennessee and, on occasion, across the U.S. Last year the ensemble made a trip to Connecticut to perform for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"It's modern," Pam Hudson, volunteer for the Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble, said of the ensemble. "They do ballet and a little bit of jazz and they're really, really excellent."
There were multiple dance acts performing at the festival. Circle Modern Dance has performed at the festival since its start. The interpretive dance company was joined on stage by Momentum Dance Lab. The dance drew a large crowd around the Market Square stage.
Also in Market Square was a Tuba Quartet who drew a crowd when the beginning notes of "Rocky Top" sounded from their instruments.
At the end of Gay Street, a choral group gave uplifting and energetic performances.
On another stage, the Tennessee Theatre offered two fully-staged performances of Bellini's "Norma." Outside of the theater, those who didn't want to sit through a lengthy opera could listen to sample performance by Knoxville Opera performers.
The outdoor opera performances became a final stop for attendants towards the end of the festival.
As vendors packed up their unsold crafts, attendants relaxed in front of the Tennessee Theatre as the last of the opera singers performed.