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Getting to Know the Scruffy City: Market Square

One of my favorite parts about moving to a new place (other than starting over with fresh condiments in the refrigerator–weird thing to like, I know) is spending the weekends exploring our new city. We’re finding that downtown Knoxville has a lot to offer that is fun and family friendly, and much of it seems to be centered in Market Square.

It’s funny, because we had a “Market Square” in Pittsburgh–the one where we came really close to being in the line of fire during a shooting when we attended the annual Christmas celebration one year–YIKES! Knoxville’s Market Square seems much more low-key and family friendly, thank goodness! I can’t imagine a shooting happening there. But anyways…

I suppose the square gets its name because every Saturday morning it hosts a local farmer’s market. And who doesn’t love a good farmer’s market? I was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices were reasonable too–sometimes organic vegetables and herbs can cost a bit more than I’m willing to spend.

Top left: a local restaurant with a rooftop deck that we would love to try!; Top right: kids love playing in these sidewalk fountains located all over the city; Bottom left: Baby Jake and I walking around the Farmer's Market; Bottom right: the Tupelo Honey restaurant is a chain, but it's one that I've been wanting to try because I've heard really good things about it!

Top left: a local restaurant with a rooftop deck that we would love to try!; Top right: kids love playing in these sidewalk fountains located all over the city; Bottom left: Baby Jake and I walking around the Farmer’s Market with his backpack carrier; Bottom right: the Tupelo Honey Café is a chain, but it’s one that I’ve been wanting to try because I’ve heard really good things about it!

By the way, this “Scruffy City” motif is something that I keep seeing referenced all over town. On t-shirts, bumper stickers, wall art being sold in stores, etc. I finally looked it up and got the full story. Apparently, the phrase originated from a Wall Street Journal reporter (who was intending it as an insult) when she reported on the 1982 World’s Fair that was hosted in Knoxville. The title of her article was, “What if You Gave a World’s Fair and Nobody Came?” She quipped that Knoxville was a “scruffy little city” on the Tennessee River, and she didn’t anticipate seeing large crowds at a Fair thrown in such an unremarkable place. Apparently, the 1982 World’s Fair ended up being much more popular than that snarky reporter anticipated, and the citizens of Knoxville began to “embrace the scruff” by promoting themselves as a scruffy city in every possible way. I really like this idea! I would be more apt to choose a scruffy mutt from a rescue shelter than a groomed thoroughbred from a breeder, and I am equally drawn to a “scruffy city” over a posh metropolis. I think I’m going to like it here. 😉

One thing I loved about the Farmer's Market--there were food trucks set up EVERYWHERE! We joked that Baby Jake would probably like anything served at The Milk Bar. :-) Justin and I chose some barbeque off of a school bus--

One thing I loved about the Farmer’s Market–there were food trucks set up EVERYWHERE! We joked that Baby Jake would probably like anything served at The Milk Bar. 🙂 Justin and I chose some barbeque off of a school bus–Bull’s BBQ. Our pulled pork sandwiches were pretty messy, but also pretty good!

On Tuesday evenings (through the end of the summer), Market Square is host to Jazz night. People gather up and bring out their lawn chairs to relax in the cool summer evenings and enjoy some live jazz from local bands.

 

Baby Jake was a fan of the music! There is so much for him to see in Market Square, he can't even be bothered to look at the camera.

Baby Jake was a fan of the music! There is so much for him to see in Market Square, he can’t even be bothered to look at the camera.

However, he did get tired out eventually. (That didn't stop me from getting eating some delicious Rita's frozen custard, though). :-)

However, he did get tired out eventually. (That didn’t stop me from getting eating some delicious Rita’s frozen custard, though). 🙂

 

Downtown Gay Street, right outside of Market Square

Downtown Gay Street, right outside of Market Square

I’m excited to spend many more weekends getting to know the Scruffy City! 🙂

 

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