The Knoxville Opera Rossini Festival and International Street Fair was started in 2001 as a way of modestly adding a bit of interest to the spring opera productions taking place at two historic downtown theaters and on the street and sidewalks between them. In the ensuing years, particularly since 2007, the street fair portion of the festival has become immensely and overwhelmingly popular, drawing crowds in the tens of thousands to Gay Street for the multiple performance stages and to partake of food, drink, and artisan wares.
Back in May, the City suggested that the Rossini Festival street fair move to the much wider and spacious Henley Street to alleviate public safety access issues and to placate a few merchants who did not benefit from the thousands of additional potential customers. Thankfully, reason and rationality won out–the City of Knoxville and Knoxville Opera have announced that the street fair will remain centered on Gay Street and with an even larger footprint encompassing other side and parallel streets. 2014’s street fair will take place on Saturday, April 12, coinciding with the weekend Knoxville Opera performances of Bellini’s Norma. Matthew Everett has the details in Metro Pulse.
In 2012, the American Planning Association designated Gay Street one of 10 Great Streets of the USA under the organization’s Great Places in America program.