Knox Pridefest promotes diversity, inclusion

The seventh annual Knoxville Pridefest drew a crowd of nearly 10,000 to a parade through downtown and to a festival in World’s Fair Park on June 22.

The rainbow flag reflects the diversity within the gay community.
The rainbow flag reflects the diversity within the gay community.

Participants in the festivities came out to show support for and raise awareness of the gay, lesbian and transgender community both in Knoxville and the surrounding East Tennessee area.  Many people wore rainbow-themed clothing or body paint to either celebrate being openly gay or to show support for friends and family who are.

“We wanted to surround our family with other diverse families,” Becky Lucas said.  Her group, Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, provides support and a public forum for discussing issues important to the gay community.

The parade featured almost 50 entrants that included marching bands, representatives of local civic and political groups, drag queens, and ordinary people wishing to show their support.  The festival in World’s Fair Park consisted of local and national musical acts, food and drink vendors, and many area groups there to support a more diverse community.

“I’ve always come since the very beginning of it,” said Rick Sawyer of the Gay Men’s Discussion Group.  He added that the event has grown very quickly over the last few years, and that this year’s attendance far outstrips that of any previous year.

The festival lasted from 1-10 p.m. and featured musical performances from Beverly McClellan and Dangerous Muse, among others.

Blue Plate Special Draws Downtown Crowd

Jim Avett, father of the Grammy-nominated Avett Brothers, headlined the Blue Plate Special concert series in downtown Knoxville on June 21.

The free concert, also featuring The Green Boys band, was held inside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center and is part of a summer series that includes live lunchtime performances six days a week. More than 75 people attended the show, some bringing their own lunch.

“We have two performances every day and we love the crowd that comes out, their energy attracts the performers we are lucky enough to book,” said Tony Lawson, program director for WDVX.

Avett has played in New York, California and Nashville in the last two months but enjoys coming to Knoxville. Being raised in North Carolina, on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains, he sees the similarities in the people and feels comfortable here.

Explaining to the crowd that he usually plays Knoxville when he is passing through to Nashville, he sang “Leaving Knoxville”, his song about running from a woman although he loved the town. Written in Knoxville, the smooth tune led many Knoxvillians to follow along with bobbing heads and tapping feet.

Avett told stories about each of the six songs he played, from revealing that he wrote “Leaving Knoxville” in a Strawberry Plains motel room to warning young men about the danger of certain phrases uttered by their lovers.

“When she says ‘I love you, but’, you’re headed down the toilet, son,” Avett joked with the crowd.

While Avett has toured since the ‘70s, The Green Boys formed two years ago and recently released their first album. What they lacked in folksy stories, they made up for in energy.

Featuring an upright bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin and lap steel guitar, the four-piece band combined the sounds of Appalachian bluegrass and honky-tonk country. The diverse footwear of the crowd, from boots to sneakers to a barefooted man, went from tapping to stomping.

Dressed in neckties, black slacks and boots, the Virginia-based band played six songs from the album they released in May, taking breaks to make jokes about having bottles thrown at them in bars and admit to their lack of touring experience.

“We’re trying to play regionally now,” said guitarist Sean Green, “this is the end of our 12 day tour through North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.”

The concert series runs from Monday through Saturday until July 31. Listeners can also tune in to WDVX 89.9 FM to listen if they cannot attend the show on Gay Street

Knoxville Catholic High School to hold Brixx FIRE Volleyball Tournament

Knoxville Catholic High School in west Knoxville will hold the Brixx FIRE volleyball tournament on June 22 and June 23.

The second annual Brixx FIRE grass volleyball tournament is to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society. All of the proceeds from the tournament and the events surrounding it will go to the society’s signature event Relay for Life. This year’s goal is to reach $15,000.

The tournament is welcome to players of all ages and skill levels. It has men’s, women’s, and juniors’ divisions and includes players from around the Southeast. Laura Dammer, Brixx manager and tournament director, hopes Brixx FIRE will create the largest competitive volleyball tournament in the area while supporting the Knoxville community.

“The volleyball community is very large in Knoxville and all over Tennessee, but most of the large tournaments in the Southeast are hours away.  This tournament allows players to compete closer to home, as well as bringing in players from all over the Southeast,” Dammer said.

The Southeast is known for having volleyball excellence with a large number of players especially in Tennessee. Just last year The University of Tennessee’s volleyball team barely missed out on having the top class in the conference. Co-tourney director and head volleyball coach at Knoxville Catholic, Andrew Garland, said that everyone involved with Brixx FIRE is dedicated to making this tourney a “first class event” that will invite players from all around.

Garland believes that Brixx FIRE is something to support with great pride.

“It’s a fun-filled weekendwith great cash and prizes for division winners and lots of other goodies for everyone involved. All this, combined with it’s all for a great cause, makes it a special tourney,” Garland said.

This is the first time the volleyball tournament will be held at Knoxville Catholic High School. It is Garland’s hope that the school will become the permanent host site for the tournament due to the central location and its facilities, which includes a practice football field with concessions and bathrooms.

Related web sites:
Brixx FIRE

This article was written by Melitta Markey,
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Laura Dammer, 504-878-6148, ‎
Andrew Garland, 865-789-5407,

Staff profiles: Melitta Markey

Melitta Markey is a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in journalism and electronic media and minoring in business administration at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She graduated from Independence High School in Thompsons Station, Tennessee in 2012 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for a year before transferring to Knoxville. Transferring to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was an easy decision for her since she had heard great things about the news broadcast program at Knoxville, which is what she plans on specializing in along with visual studies.

While in high school Melitta took four years of electronic media courses. During this time she participated in filming and editing for the school’s broadcast news team and was eventually given the opportunity to be the producer her senior year. Indy News won multiple awards from the Williamson County Film Festival while Melitta was the producer. She also won multiple awards for her personal work from film festival and from the Student Emmy’s.

Melitta had an internship at the local government access channel, Williamson County Television,  from January 2010 to May 2012. At her internship she filmed and edited programs around the county including football games, basketball games, school board meetings, library events, and bicycle public service announcements. During her final year at WC-TV she was named the chief intern. With this role she was put in charge of the other four interns and given a larger workload.

She now plans to become involved in news broadcasting at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and one day dreams of being an executive producer of a news stations while filming and editing videos on her own time.


Staff profiles: Jordan Achs

Jordan Achs is a student at the University of Tennessee majoring in Journalism and minoring in Spanish and Business.

Originally from a ski town in Idaho, she spent her high school years in rural Illinois. While there, she’s had a plethora of weird jobs, from corn detasseling to being a summer janitor for the elementary school. Despite working, she managed to be a good student, getting Illinois State Scholar and being in the top five of her class, although the class only had 48 students in it.

Jordan has many different hobbies, including: rock climbing, reading, watching TV, making horrible puns, and going to the movies. In addition, she follows street art religiously, is addicted to the internet, and Obi Wan is her only hope. Her favorite way to keep up with news is via Reddit, and her Klout score fluctuates between a 58 and 61.

Jordan has many different hopes and dreams right now, especially when it comes to a career. One dream is to work for Entertainment Weekly, covering the movies and TV shows she spends so much time watching.

Staff profiles: Annaya Moore

Annaya Moore is a 19 year- old second year student at the University of Tennessee. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois. She spent her freshmen year at Troy University which was a huge culture shock for her since she is use to the fast pace and always on the go attitude of the north. Annaya is a former basketball player that came from number one nationally ranked high school Bolingbrook. She graduated along with eight division one players that are currently at big time schools such as UConn, U of I, Auburn, and your very own UT. Along with those eight girls is Annaya’s fraternal twin sister Nia Moore that is currently a Lady Volunteer under head Coach Holly Warlick. Even though Annaya was a top recruit coming out of high school,  she suffered a career ending injury in both feet called a lisfranc sprain. It is when the ligaments in your feet spread with constant and intense physical activity.

Thankfully Annaya is very diverse and has always been very successful academically. With that being said, she is majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media, and hopes to pursue Sports Broadcast Journalism in the near future. When Annaya is not working as a manager for the Lady Volunteers she enjoys traveling, shopping, swimming,experiencing new things, and any sort of physical activity. Annaya is also an older sister to three younger brothers of the ages sixteen,eleven, and six. Annaya is very excited to be apart of this department and experiencing all that is to come.