Has Sundown in the City Gotten Too Big?

By: Gary Loe
By: Gary Loe

Knoxville (WVLT) - Thursday's weekly Sundown in the City concert attracted thousands of people downtown to Market Square for the Thursday night event.

The spring and summer series is drawing record numbers to Knoxville's central business district, and they're leaving some of their money there.

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe looks at whether Sundown has grown too large.

Too big is the main concern we heard from concert-goers on Market Square. The popularity of the Sundown in the City event is creating less space, making it too crowed for some folks, but event organizers are working on resolving that issue.

The Grammy award winning group Ozomatli attracted thousands of concert-goers to this week's Sundown in the City, but the hip-hop and reggae music did not seem to draw the 8,000-to-10,000 person average the event's experienced in past weeks.

"Early on, the crowds are really large," Sundown patron Greg Bell said.

Big crowds kept the Greg Bell family of Knoxville from attending Sundown until this week.

"Sometimes when you've got your kids down here, you're always thinking, ah, there going to get lost somewhere," Bell said.

The record crowds mean booming business for Market Square and other downtown restaurants. The Tomato Head's busiest day of the week is now Thursday.

"It usually picks up about five which is earlier than usual and it stays steady all night," Tomato Head manager, Shannon Elliott, said.

Sundown organizers are considering options for better accommodating the mass of people.

"We'll look at ways to help people still have a comfortable time and whether that means expanding in this space or changing the event around," Paige Travis from AC Entertainment said. "We have talked about utilizing the Krutch park extension perhaps with screens, perhaps with speakers, perhaps even with just other events."

Another possibility is extending the Sundown boundaries to include more streets, or moving the more popular artist dates to the World's Fair Park, which is a much larger venue.

"You want it to be popular, and the more people the more popular, so I mean, how do you stop people from coming down?" Bell said.

May 31st's Sundown police report includes the lowest number of arrests so far this season. Of the seven arrests, two were cited for underage drinking, four for public intoxication, and one on an outstanding warrant.

Sundown in the City runs for 12 weeks - this season's schedule ends on the last Thursday in June, which means four more weeks of free Thursday night concerts on Market Square.

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