Latin America takes over downtown Knoxville


Entertainment at the HoLa Festival.

Locals’ five senses were tingling as colorful clothing, tasty treats, tons of vendors, mouth-watering smells, and vibrant music dominated downtown Knoxville. The 19th annual HoLa Festival was a two-day party celebrated on September 29th from 4 to 10pm and September 30th from 2:15 to 6pm. Both days offered locals plenty of entertainment, shopping, and food. The large crowds flooding the area was proof the festival continues every year to be a success in celebrating and educating on Hispanic culture.

“….grab a partner and move to the Latin grooves.”


The president of the HoLa Hora Latina and organizer of the festival, Pedro Tomấs, told Knoxnews that Saturday alone had over 4,000 people packed in Market Square dancing and singing to the music. He said, “It was the biggest Saturday night we’ve had…” A contribution to this success was also the charismatic MC of the night, Andy Maldonavo. A man with a loud voice and cool shades, he kept the crowd excited and awake the majority of the night. Coupled with some amazing musical acts and beautiful ballroom dancers from Salsa Knox, it encouraged many people, experienced or not, to grab a partner and move to the Latin grooves.


MC speaking to the crowd.

To kick off the second day Market Square had representatives from numerous countries hold a parade. This was a chance to see more of the traditional clothing worn in Hispanic culture. Sunday was also more of a kid-friendly environment too with acts like a puppet show and a lively ventriloquist. Located on the corner outside of Urban Outfitters there was also a chance to hear a street performer playing the steel drum. He was willing to take requests and could play a variety of different songs from “Under the Sea” to a more traditional Caribbean beat.


Street performer playing the steel drum. 

The HoLa Festival is a key foundation of the HoLa Hora Latina organization and does a great job educating the public and showing the influences of Hispanic culture in the US. If you loved the festival or missed out on the fun, continue to support the organization through their other cultural and educational programs they offer throughout the year. It is an excellent way to keep celebrating the US’s National Hispanic Heritage Month!


Want to support HoLa Hore?

Visit their website:




Visit their headquarters:

100 block of S. Gay Street at the Historical Emporium Building

UT Gardens 2018 Plant Sale


University of Tennessee’s faculty, staff, and students got an early bird special for UT Gardens’ 2018 Plant Sale. Saturday, September 29th will be the day the sale is open to both the public and UT affiliates. Tennessee recognizes UT Gardens, part of the UT Institute of Agriculture, as the state’s official botanical gardens. They are accessible to many in the state, with locations in Knoxville, Jackson, and Crossville. According to UT Gardens’ website, “4,000 annuals, perennials, herbs, tropical plants, trees, shrubs, vegetables, and ornamental grasses are evaluated each year.” The gardens’ missions are to educate and inspire the public to learn more about plants. At this year’s plant sale, customers can choose from a healthy selection of edibles, conifers, shrubs, and trees. Along with each plant comes with instructions on how t care for your new green friend. If the instructions are not clear enough, there are plenty of UT Gardens’ associates and master gardeners who can answer your questions.


UT Gardens’ suggest this is a great time to stock up on plants. The cooler temperatures of the fall weather combined with the higher chances of rain are agreeable conditions to start planting. Some plants the sale will feature are the extremely colorful ‘Double Play Candy Corn’ Spiraea, the bright yellow and red ‘Mt. Airy’ Fothergilla, and other gorgeous plants.


If you happen to be a member of UT Gardens all purchases will have a 10% discount. Signing up for a membership and all the sales of the plants will directly go to benefit the gardens. Funding is important for the gardens as their mission is to educate and inspire the general public about plants. UT Gardens offer workshops all year, and some of those include holiday wreath making, taking care of succulents in your home and other plant-care subjects. The gardens also provide chances for field trips, charity events, and rentals. Again, being a member pays off as there is a discount for a majority of their events and items.

The sale will last from 9am-2pm on Saturday, and will only be at the Knoxville location. It is a great way for green thumbs and curious planters to gain more plants and knowledge about Tennessee’s gardens.


Here’s a complete list of all plants that will be sold:

Knoxville Flea Market

clothesOn the weekend of Sept. 14-16th, locals packed the Knoxville Expo Center to whip out their wallets. The Knoxville Flea Market is a market that sets up multiple times throughout the year to sell second-hand goods, crafts, and other merchandise. With the incentive of no admission with free parking, hundreds flocked to the expo center to shop at over 300 booths.

The market consisted of several, long aisles. Along these aisles were booths selling clothes, jewelry, and even common household items like detergent. If the flea market is next on your list of upcoming events, give yourself a flexible amount of time to browse. Doing a full walk-around in the market takes about an hour. If you’re serious about buying items know that foot traffic can be slow, expect to carve out at least a couple hours of your time.

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One of the most interesting booths in the market to be on the lookout for is the taxidermy booth. Keep an eye out for animal mounts, skeletons, and maybe even a lifelike replica of King Tut’s sarcophagus. It is a booth with a variety of spooky items that are perfect for upcoming Halloween celebrations. If you have any questions about the objects, don’t be discouraged by the booth’s dark vibe. The owner seemed satisfied to answer any curious buyers’ questions.




For anyone who missed out on the flea market, there will be other chances. The next market will be at the expo center on October 19th-21st. 3-7pm Friday, 10-6pm Saturday, and 10-4pm Sunday. The Knoxville Flea Market is also part of Stewart Promotions, a company that sponsors flea markets in Indiana and Kentucky if you cannot make it to the Knoxville location.

Learn more about the flea markets by going to their website:

If you are a potential seller looking to show your booth click this:

Directions to the flea markets can be found here:

Hidden Gems: Walking Ghost Tour


What comes to mind when you think of downtown Knoxville? Countless would say gifts shops, local street performers, or maybe lack of parking. Would it be a surprise if I say triple homicide murders and reanimated corpses?

Check out Shadow Side Ghost Tour and bloodthirsty murderers might be on your list of downtown stories!

The tour runs for 90 minutes. It will take locals and visitors on a ghastly journey through Gay Street, Central, and all the way back to Market Square.

“All the stories told are shockingly true.”

Opposed to the fake dramatics of cheesy horror and jump scares, the tour takes a more historical approach to creeping out the living. All of the stories told are shockingly true. The tour guide will point out a variety of local sites and tell the story behind why people hear footsteps in the night or catch faces peering out of windows.

It starts in front of the Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain on Gay Street. This is where the history buff who created the tour in 2012, Laura Still, will be waiting. Armed with a stick megaphone taller than her body, she will lead the group through some of downtown’s active haunted spots.


Stay close to her as she speaks! The loud sounds of busy downtown traffic can drown out her stories. Still excels in retelling these chilling narratives so you do not want to miss any word of it.

“… your favorite places might be home to a sinister story.” 

The first part of the tour is mainly up and down Gay Street. Still will transport everyone back to a time where downtown Knoxville was split into two. The top of the hill where the upper-class citizens resided and the lower hill where the darker side of Knoxville was, hence the shadow side. On the shadow side of Knoxville is where a majority of grisly crimes and deaths happened. It might come to a surprise how many of your favorite places might be home to a sinister story.

After a stroll down memory lane of Gay Street’s history, the tour will move to a more eerie setting. Knoxville’s oldest graveyard, The First Presbyterian Church Graveyard. Created in the 1700s, Still identifies the tombstones of prominent figures in Knoxville and spins their hair-raising tales. During this part of the tour, it gets dark fast so be cautious of your footing so you won’t kick a tombstone and upset the church and the spirit too!


The tour will continue down Central and onto the block between Main and Hill. Still will give more sinister stories about murderers who used to lurk the street at night and the ghosts who still hang from their former gallows. Historical houses will also be on this part of the tour so get your camera ready for some neat shots.


On ending the tour, you will find our little scruffy city has more secrets than we know. This is definitely a must-do if you’re a fan of the supernatural or just looking for something new to add to your Knoxville Bucket List.