Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quick: St. Patrick's Day and Sundown in the City - What do they have in Common?

Bronze Guy on Market Square, Knoxville, March 2012

They might have more in common than you might think by the time the evening winds down. The front page of the News Sentinel on Friday carried a big article about the fact that Sundown in the City is no more - then Saturday night we tried our very Knoxville best to duplicate all the reasons we ended Sundown. More on Sundown in a later post, but on Saturday I decided to wade into the melee and find out what this Irish celebration is really all about.

Friends out for a night on the Square, Knoxville, March 2012

Crowd for Ian Thomas, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Knoxville

First on Market Square I ran into our very own bronze statue guy! I don't remember seeing him before and we felt like such a grown up city for a second or two! The crowd was fun and growing. People walked about in their subtle and not-so-subtle green outfits chugging green beer from very large souvenir glasses like one might expect in Las Vegas or New Orleans. Look at us drink like the big city!

Ian Thomas, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square Stage, Knoxville

Yes, we are men and we wear dresses. What?

Ian Thomas, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square Stage, Knoxville 

Ian Thomas had the early shift on the Market Square stage and, as I've said before, brings to the stage one of the best country voices in the city. The crowd had started to build. You can judge for yourself from the photograph, but I would guess around 2,000 were paying attention and the patios of every establishment around the square was packed and waiting lists were building.

Ian Thomas, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square Stage, Knoxville 

Boyd's Jig and Reel, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Knoxville

After Ian's set I walked to the Old City where a Pub Crawl was building. I stopped by Urban Bar and Grill which I will discuss further in a subsequent post. As you might expect on such a night, the crowds were large all around the Old City and particularly at Boyd's Jig and Reel. It appeared there was a line of people waiting outside who were waiting to be admitted as others left because the space was at capacity.

Crowne and Goose, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Knoxville

Crowne and Goose, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Knoxville 

I walked down Central Street toward the Crowne and Goose which is, of course, a English pub, but found the same situation there: They could let no one in until someone left. I don't remember seeing this in Knoxville and this was the second spot on the block and it wasn't the last place I saw it that night.

Cutthroat Shamrock, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square, Knoxville

Crowd for Cutthroat Shamrock, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Knoxville

Cutthroat Shamrock, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square, Knoxville 

Back on Market Square to listening to some of Cutthroat Shamrock's set, I found and found the crowd had swollen tremendously. I'm guessing six to seven thousand were slamming around to the sounds of the Irish-punk band. I tried to get into Blue Coast Burrito to take a picture of the crowd from their Margarita Loft and - you guessed it - they were not admitting anyone due to over-crowding.

Cutthroat Shamrock, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square, Knoxville 
Cutthroat Shamrock, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square, Knoxville 

Cutthroat Shamrock, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square, Knoxville 

The band worked the increasingly drunken crowd and as I wandered through them toward Union Avenue, I wondered how different this crowd and event really was from Sundown in the City. Roaming teenagers dropped off by parents? Check. Drunken crowds stumbling about? Check. Jamming Music? Too large a crowd for the space? Check. Sure, they wore more green and a larger portion of the men wore skirts, but otherwise, I'm not seeing much difference.

Revelers on Market Square, St. Patrick's Day 2012

Senior Revelers, St. Patrick's Day 2012, Market Square, Knoxville 

Prettiest Irish Girl of the Night!

It was fun, it was festive, but by the time they stumbled home, well, many of them stumbled. I drank a cup of coffee at Coffee and Chocolate and watched them slowly fade into the night. It was a fun night and I hope everyone got home safely. I can't imagine it was any more appealing to the merchants who are happy Sundown ended.

It was good people watching for me and I hope you enjoyed the pictures, as well.

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At March 20, 2012 at 12:37 AM , Blogger Ally Gregory-Moore said...

I'm glad you were able to make it down to the Old City! I know at Urban (technically the Urban Bar & Corner Cafe) we were at capacity from 9 on and had a line out the door and down the street the majority of the night. I'm happy to see all the other downtown bars did as well as we did.

At March 20, 2012 at 8:56 AM , Anonymous Greg said...

Why would merchants be unhappy with late-night crowds? They're closed by then.

If there are problems, lenient open-container laws might be a contributing factor. In Virginia it's against the law to wander around in public with beer or alcohol in a cup (or any open container). It's not necessarily a better way of handling things, just different.

At March 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM , Anonymous chrissy said...

I'm glad these businesses did well! I think Sundown was probably losing money for reasons other than what the PR at AC is stating in public, you know? They have so many kettles boiling...Sundown may have been a big liability. It's a shame. Something else will pop up! And I'm also a coffee drinker in a drinking crowd often; nice to know that I'm not alone in that! :)

At March 20, 2012 at 1:03 PM , Blogger tthurman said...

I know a bunch of people enjoyed Sundown, but I will not miss it!

At March 20, 2012 at 3:34 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

My husband and I tried to get into Boyd's to watch our friend perform. We thought by 11 pm maybe things would be winding down. Wrong! Rather than stand at the door and wait for forever, and pay $16 for maybe an hour of entertainment, we went to Remedy and I had an iced latte. Remedy was nice and calm compared to the street and bars in Old City. We'll have to see our friend perform elsewhere another time.

At March 20, 2012 at 6:07 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

It was great finally meeting you and Mindy. Watch for your mug shot soon - maybe tomorrow! I'm glad you did well. I think your pub crawl really pulled in a crowd.

At March 20, 2012 at 6:08 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

I'll write a bit about this, soon. New York City we aren't.

At March 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Sundown was probably complicated by a number of out-of-the-public issues. I do know some shop owners and managers who weren't happy with it, though. I'm with you on the good coffee. It takes all kinds and we're just a little different. Not that I don't enjoy a good glass of grape.

At March 20, 2012 at 6:11 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Count me as one who will. More on that later.

At March 20, 2012 at 6:11 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Good move. As much as I like some of these places, by the time the crowds grew so large it definitely was not going to be something I would enjoy.

At March 20, 2012 at 8:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We enjoyed Sundown from a different viewpoint than most, but it was depressing to see the fights, drunks vomiting, and the police waiting for the paddy wagon to return for another load. Also, some of the younger women told us of the frequent "gropping" as they walked through the crowds. They turned to slap face and discovered that it could have been any one of twenty people. Anyway, we will miss the music but not the unruley (sic) mobs.

At March 21, 2012 at 5:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Downtown Knoxville merchants are once again showing how fickle they are and that they are not committed to creating a thriving downtown.

Tennessee's other major cities Nashville, Memphis and Chattanooga all host large outdoor music festivals (Live on the Green, Beale Street Festival and Riverbend Festival) respectively. All of those downtown's manage to put on great events without their business communities throwing hissy fits about a few rowdy teenagers and overcrowding.

Building a vibrant community can't happen if you're only willing to allow an "acceptable" type of downtown visitor to your precious market square. Public squares are supposed to be full of colorful people drinking, eating and dancing. That's what they're for!

At March 22, 2012 at 9:44 AM , Blogger tthurman said...

Perhaps, but at least for the Beale Street Festival, everyone isn't crammed into an area the size of Market Square. Instead you can shop, eat etc., right on Beale Street, or go to the shows up by the river. I really liked the set up for this in Memphis, but struggle to see how it relates to shows in the square.


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