Huge street fairs can present all kinds of logistical and public safety problems. So for the last few years, the city of Knoxville has been turning down requests for those types of events on Gay Street. The one obvious exception is the annual Rossini Festival, the street carnival that shuts down a large portion of Gay Street to accommodate as many as 100,000 visitors.
A new agreement between Rossini organizers Knoxville Opera and the city guarantees the festival will continue to be the one exception.
The agreement is the result of high-level discussions between the Mayor’s office and representatives of Knoxville Opera, who resisted the city’s suggestion that they should move Rossini to a different location.
The agreement designates the fair as a “legacy festival” because of its popularity and its 12-year run on Gay Street. That designation gives the city the leverage it needs to reject other requests while allowing one of its most popular festivals to continue.
In return, Knoxville Opera has agreed to make some logistical and operational changes that will allow firefighters better access to the festival area. The agreement will also require more stringent guidelines for the disposal of potentially harmful materials like cooking grease.
City of Knoxville spokesman Jesse Fox Mayshark tells WUOT News the city will continue to allow short-term closures for events on Gay Street, such as parades and the Knoxville marathon.