It’s Dogwood time in Tennessee

It’s Dogwood time in Tennessee

Four delicate white leaves with hints of dark red on the end open to reveal a small cluster of yellowish green “flowers”.  This is the bloom of a dogwood tree and this time of year, tens of thousands of these natural creations paint a picture of spring brilliant enough to capture the attention of people around the world.  Washington, D.C. has its cherry blossoms, but in Knoxville the Dogwood blooms are celebrated in a way you won’t find in any other city.

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Every year the city of Knoxville puts the spotlight on this fabled tree and the beauty it creates during one of the city’s  oldest and largest annual events, the Dogwood Arts Festival.  Spread out over a couple of weeks, this display of civic pride traces its beginnings to a scathing review from John Gunther, a New York newspaper writer. Back in the late 1940’s he referred to Knoxville as the “ugliest city” he had ever visited in America. That harsh criticism prompted locals to look at ways to beautify this city in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains.  The solution, plant a lot of dogwood trees and create special trails filled with beauty.

Today, there are more than 80 miles of Dogwood Trails throughout the city. Finding them is easy.  As you drive along the city’s main roads just look for the trail signs and follow the pink arrows on the road that lead the way through each trail.  Along the way, you will see just how important the Dogwood trees are to Knoxville and the lengths homeowners and neighborhoods will go to make sure you see them.  It’s kind of like putting on your Sunday best. Whether it’s the historic and very upscale Sequoyah Hills Dogwood Trail or the Lakemoor Hills trail in South Knoxville, driving along these routes helps you get a feel for this city’s natural vibe. But don’t just stay in your cars when you’re on the trail.  Take advantage of the many Dogwood Trail Gardens and hiking trails that are also part of the experience.

Nature’s art work was the focus when the Dogwood Arts Festival began, and throughout the years, the artistic talents people have broadened the overall scope of the “best days of spring.”  On April 21st, Market Square (the historic heart of Downtown) becomes a work of art itself as the Chalk Walk literally fills the space.  As you roam around, the sidewalks and other areas beneath your feet transform into an art museum. Talented artists from all over use their skills to create masterpieces of chalk art.  While folks can’t take home the artwork they see, the artists do have a shot at winning ribbons and cash as judges do evaluate the work. The Chalk Walk is one of our favorite events and even if you can’t make it on the first day (and if it doesn’t rain) you can still see the art work on the next day

Here are a few reminders of what to take in during the 2018 Dogwood Arts Festival.

March 29th  through April 30th – Dogwood Trails are open throughout the city.

April 6th through 8th – Rhythm ‘n Blooms Music Festival

April 21st – The Chalk Walk comes to Market Square and Krutch Park

April 27th – 29th – Dogwood Arts on Market Square

Learn more about each of these events at dogwoodarts.com .

If you do come to enjoy the festival in Knoxville, here are a few other things you might want to check out while you’re here.

McClung Museum of Natural History

Knoxville Museum of Art

Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

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My name is Clayton Hensley (a.k.a. the knoxdaytripper). Born and raised in East Tennessee (with a few years in SW Virginia), I have been traveling the backroads and hiking in the mountains for as long as I can remember. Through my writing and photography, I hope to inspire people to experience places they might not have heard about before or look at familiar places in a new light.

For more than 20-years now, my wife and I have called Clinton, TN home. We have two children who (for the most part) love to travel with us. My “real” job is working as a communications director for a large church and in what little spare time I have, I like to garden, take lots of pictures, collect Coca-Cola stuff and catch up on all those shows I miss because I’m always doing something else.

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