Youth Theatre Festival encourages creativity

Friday, the community’s youth showed why art remains worthy of celebration at the 29th Annual Youth Theatre Festival. The festival revolved around the theme “I can do that,” a reoccurring notion in the festival’s history. Seeing others their age sing, dance or play the guitar encourages children to believe in themselves and think “I can do that, too.”

The first half of the festival featured performances by the young artists. The Kuumba Watoto and Knoxville Children’s Theatre (KCT) gave special performances. KCT demonstrated three types of dance performances: ballet, “Reflection of God” and jazz.

“We make sure to focus on youth performers and young people performing for young people because it makes a difference,” Jonathan Clark, executive support manager of The Carpetbag Theatre, said.

In 1989, the founders of Carpetbag, a local ensemble company devoted to original works, partnered with the Kuumba Festival to create the Youth Theatre Festival. The festival helped the community’s youth gain accessibility to the arts without worry about the cost.

The festival offered workshops for children from age 5 to 18. Some of the workshops included a hip hop dance class, painting and hip hop writing.

Youth Festival 2.JPG

The festival shows children that different opportunities exist in the world beyond  traditional occupations like medicine or law. Carpetbag wants them to understand their artistry and to sustain a viable and professional career within the theatre.

Kisha Rockette, the event coordinator of the Youth Theatre Festival, said, “We have to let our youth understand that they can survive with being an artist. It is important to tap into the youth so that they don’t feel as if there is no hope or that their dreams are lost.”

Both Clark and Rockette believe that arts programs have improved through the years, but Clark has not seen many art activities inside schools.

“The upcoming STEM academy is cool, but the arts get left out a lot, and that is usually the first place to get funding cut or redistributed,” Clark said.

Children can, however, find arts education through Carpetbag initiatives. Carpetbag received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund fall and spring break youth camps. Children in the camp will receive a stipend for joining and participating. Participants will also have a chance to help with the production of Carpetbag’s upcoming play, “Ce Nitram Sacul,” in September.


Images by Sage Davis

Edited by Lexie Little




Advocates for Autism celebrate autumn, raise awareness at fall festival

The Advocates for Autism held their first annual Fall Festival at the University of Tennessee to celebrate the autumn season and raise awareness for autism on Friday, Oct. 13.

The event included activities such as pumpkin painting, square dancing, a s’mores station, live animals and a bake sale. The AFA invited UT students, faculty and members of the Knoxville to attend.

“Last year, AFA had a bake sale in order to raise funds for our community partner, Autism Site Knoxville,” Vice President Ciara Westbrook said. “We wanted this fundraiser to grow and have more of our members and community involved in order to bring more awareness to UT’s campus and more funds for individuals on the autism spectrum. The turnout was great and we are looking to expand even more next year!”

UT students invited their friends to attend. Courtney Beck, a sophomore at UT, attended on the invitation of her roommate.

Other students traveling to and from classes stopped by to pet the animals and grab some apple cider and baked treats. Some stopped to paint small pumpkins with unique designs.

The square-dancing led by Ron Schneider turned out to be a big hit for the students who participated.

“I really loved the dancing. This was the second time I have square-danced and it was literally so much fun,” UT student Kinzee Clark said. “I didn’t expect anybody to do it, and I was just really excited that people were actually dancing.”

Others like UT junior Maggie Fisher also enjoyed the dancing.

“It brought back memories for me of past experiences,” Fisher said.

Organizers enjoyed their events as well, both for the fun and for the benefit to the community.

“My favorite part of the Fall Fest was definitely seeing the children with autism interact with the animals at the petting farm and watching them enjoy themselves as they square danced,” said Westbrook. “It was great to know that with the help of our members and our community, we could bring a smile on their faces. It’s also important that the autism community knows that they do have support and we are here to advocate for them.”

AFA’s four key pillars are to include, inform, collaborate and celebrate in every event they host.

For more information on Advocates for Autism and their events, check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages by searching @afautk or visit

Featured Image by Randall Billings, courtesy of Creative Commons

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo and Lexie Little

Advocates for Autism to host Fall Fest

On Friday from 4-8 p.m., Advocates for Autism, a campus organization dedicated to spreading awareness and educating students about autism and individuals on the spectrum, will be celebrating the arrival of autumn with a number of activities at the Humanities Amphitheater on Volunteer Blvd.

Advocates for Autism was founded last year by the current co-presidents Brianna Mason and Terrell Broady Jr. Both are graduate students pursuing their MBAs.

Image may contain: textTheir mission statement reads:

Advocates For Autism aims to raise awareness and educate the campus about autism and individuals on the spectrum. We provide an inclusive environment for students on the spectrum and serve as allies. Advocates For Autism raises funds to provide local students, families, and adults with resources, support, and education.”

From 4-6 p.m., the local Friendly Farm will be provide a petting farm, which will include goats, pigs, sheep and ducks among other animals.

Ron Schneider will lead the attendants in square dancing starting at 5 p.m.

There will be pumpkin decorating, a photo booth, a bake sale themed around fall, apple cider and s’mores throughout the event.

All proceeds from the bake sale, s’mores and any food sold for the animals will go towards their community partner, Autism Site Knoxville, and other fundraising events.

Co-president Mason said this event is going to be a fun way to celebrate the fall season and learn more about autism. 

We hope to have families and individuals with autism at the event to interact with one another and participate in fun activities,” she said. “We also hope to raise awareness about autism because with 1 in 68 children born this year expected to receive a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, the population is growing. It is growing more and more common that you will in someway be affected by autism. It is our job to make people aware and educate.”

For more information about becoming a member of Advocates for Autism, email Mason at

For more information on AFA events by liking their Facebook page

Edited by Vanessa Rodriguez 

Featured Image by Randall Billings, courtesy of Creative Commons

Preview: ‘Safe in Sound Festival’ brings electronic sound to The International

In its second month on tour, the Safe in Sound festival will make a stop in Knoxville, Tenn. on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at The International. This festival features artist Borgore with supporting artists Laxx and Terravita.

The festival is focused around electronic music, with Borgore being one of the more popular dubstep artists over the past few years.

Borgore was announced for the event through a comedic video posted to the festival’s YouTube channel.

The dubstep producer reigns from Israel and has founded his own label, named Buygore Records. His debut album, #NEWGOREORDER, was released in 2014.

Laxx has released four LP’s between 2014 and 2015, all while garnering the the support of DJ’s Skrillex and Kill the Noise. He’s also performed remixes of Flux Pavilion and Zomboy tracks.

Terravita, another rising artist, currently holds 90K followers on their Soundcloud profile. Terravita is a Boston-based group currently signed to Firepower Records.

The Safe in Sound Festival has showcased artists Datsik and Nero in the past, and has grown in popularity as it begins to expand to more cities.

Tickets are still on sale for the Safe in Sound Festival appearance in Knoxville on Ticket Web. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 on the day of the show. Premium Balcony seats are available for $60.

Doors open at 8 p.m. The show begins at 9 p.m. 

For more information on the Safe in Sound Festival, visit their website.

Featured image courtesy of Safe in Sound’s Instagram.

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

4 last minute Spring Break ideas

Haven’t planned your Spring Break yet?

No problem.

Spring Break 2015 has arrived and for those who are not going on an extravagant trip do not be afraid. Every year during Spring Break you can find multiple events taking place throughout the Knoxville area. This year there will be several events including concerts, festivals and other social gatherings. So while your enjoying your break from school, you can explore the beautiful city of Knoxville and all it has to offer. Here are a few ideas.

1.  The Irish Times Pub & Restaurant

Celebrate the friendliest day of year with one of Knoxville’s Irish pubs on Saint Patrick’s Day. The Irish Times Pub & Restaurant is a family-owned business that will be celebrating this day in the right kind of way. They will be hosting various forms of entertainment such as dancing, tug-o-war, bagpipes and other musical performances by Katie Carver and the Steve Rutledge Band. A tent and stage will be set up outside along with additional seating and bar. This all takes place on March 17, but the pub will also be providing entertainment for this weekend. So stop by the Irish Times Pub and Restaurant for some fun entertainment, but make sure to wear your green

2. The Sing-Off Tour Live

Are you a fan of NBC’s show “The Sing-Off”? If so, you’re in luck because The Sing-Off Tour will be coming to Knoxville on March 16. This event will be featuring a variety of fan favorites of the popular TV show such as: Street Corner Symphony and VoicePlay. These groups will be performing their a cappella versions of this year’s most popular songs as well as some of the arrangements from the TV show. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be at the Tennessee Theater.

3. Knoxville Ice Bears vs. Fayetteville Fireantz

Go out with your friends and enjoy a fun filled night while supporting Knoxville’s local hockey team. You will experience fast-paced action, fan participation and numerous giveaways that are offered by Ice Bears while also being easy on your wallet. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum.  You can buy tickets at or by calling 865-656-4444.

4.  Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Spring: It’s a Spring Thing

Feeling a little spontaneous? Take a road trip with a few friends to Gatlinburg’s Smoky Mountain Spring: It’s a Spring Thing. During this event, you can enjoy activities such as the “Fit for Duty” 5k run/walk, the Bush Brother’s Cornbread and Bean Festival and many more. This event is packed with plenty of fun activities to keep you and your friends busy. You can find the dates of events in the line below.

Edited by Maggie Jones

Biscuit festival celebrates fifth year in downtown Knoxville

A baker prepares her ingredients for the Bisucit Festival. Photo by Ryan McGill.
A baker prepares her ingredients for the Bisucit Festival. Photo by Ryan McGill.

Cold weather and a rainy forecast didn’t stop biscuit lovers from coming down to the fifth annual International Biscuit Festival from May 15-18 in downtown Knoxville.

A baker prepares ingredients. Photo by Ryan McGill.
A baker prepares ingredients. Photo by Ryan McGill.

 The festival held competitions in four biscuit categories including savory biscuits, sweet biscuits, special biscuits and student biscuits.

 The winners were:

Special and Grand Champion of the Southern Biscuit Flour Biscuit Baking Contest: Erin Carlini with her Chesapeake Bay Biscuit.

 Savory: Heather Thacker with her Marcona Crumble & Candied Bacon Biscuit.

Judges relax between biscuit categories. Photo by Ryan McGill.
Judges relax between biscuit categories. Photo by Ryan McGill.

 Sweet: Paige Sandbank with her Orange Spice Cardamom Delight Biscuit.

 Student: Auden Cole with Auden’s Sausage Smasher Biscuit.

The event also allowed vendors of local and non-local companies to display their products, allowing participants options for snacks, meals and goodies.

Amelia’s Spiced Pecans offered samples of their pecans which are designed to be used as a cooking ingredient. They consist of roasted, chopped pecans with flavoring. Mike Reardon, the owner, offered three flavors:  hot, herb and cinnamon.

 “It’s totally unique in that  it’s a cooking ingredient,” said Reardon. The only other types of flavored nut are snacks, he said.

 The small business is partnered with Whole Foods and hopes to soon spark a partnership with a local shop in Knoxville.

 The company opened in 2011 when Reardon noticed roasting pecans and putting them in his chicken salad made it taste better. This was the second year Amelia’s Spiced Pecans was a vendor at the Biscuit Festival.

 “Our products are all natural, with nothing but high quality ingredients,” Reardon said.

Biscuit Festival participants walk through the crowd and vendors on Clinch Ave. Photo by Ryan McGill.
Biscuit Festival participants walk through the crowd and vendors on Clinch Ave. Photo by Ryan McGill.

 The vendors were lined on each side of Clinch Ave and Market Street, along with bands, food trucks and the Farmer’s Market.

 Anthony Edwards, who was walking through the crowd with his wife said he enjoys all the excitement and that  “it’s just a neat thing to see.”

 “My favorite vendor is Benton’s Country Ham,” Edwards said, “We’ve been every year, and we will definitely be back next year.”

 There were a mixture of entertainers, from paid bands to traveling favorites. The Get Right Band played atop a truck and trailer for their first time at the festival.

 Silas Durocher, a member of The Get Right band said, “It was just a fun time. A lot of people having fun and enjoying themselves which is what we’re all about as a band.”

 “It’s a wholesome environment. No one getting crazy, just enjoying themselves, eatin’ biscuits,” Jesse Gentry, another member of The Get

A member of The Slick Skillet Serenaders plays at the Biscuit Festival. Photo by Ryan McGill.
A member of The Slick Skillet Serenaders plays at the Biscuit Festival. Photo by Ryan McGill.

Right Band, said.

“We had a blast and appreciate being invited to play at the festival,” Durocher said.

Check out tunes from Biscuitfest here:

Edited by Maggie Jones