Apr 9 2009
03:36 pm

There is a revised draft of the policy statement now available at the City of Knoxville website. This reflects reaction to the first draft. A public meeting to discuss the second draft will be held Monday, April 20th - 5:30 at the Market House Room of the Knoxville Chamber. Following this discussion and any further alterations we will move to implementation of the policy. Thanks to all who helped craft this policy.


Market Square has now become a destination in itself. While special events are important to the success of the Square, we have reached the point where Market Square is a very successful destination in its own right. Therefore the mix of events, and by extension, the vast majority of events, held on the Square should respect the unique sense of place that residents and visitors enjoy. This mix shall reflect complimentary interests of those who operate businesses on Market Square as well as those who enjoy attending events.

Thus the mix of events should minimize disruption, and hopefully enhance the experience for those wishing to enjoy shops and outdoor dining. Events that overwhelm the public space, through intrusive setup and removal, coverage of large parts of the area, or by creating noise at a level sufficient to make conversation difficult, should be minimized.

Market Square, as other public spaces, is for use by the general public. Reservation of such space is at the discretion of the City according to evenly applied conditions that enhance the value of the space for the overall community. During the major portion of the day, residents and visitors should be able to assume that they will be able to enjoy the ambience of the Square. This enjoyment can be enhanced by small events, with minimal or no amplification, that do not physically dominate the area. Exceptions should occur for events supported by the city or otherwise well publicized.

Concerts or concert series such as Sundown in the City represent an appropriate and desirable use of the Square, but Market Square should not be the default location for those wishing to hold outdoor concerts. Other than those concerts supported by the City, concerts are appropriate for Market Square to the degree to which they are not amplified to a point that they overwhelm the ability of the public to converse on patios and public areas. In addition, while Market Square is a desirable place for groups to gather, larger groups are better served in other venues such as the amphitheater or other areas in Worlds Fair Park.

The following policy thus will govern the use of Market Square.

• The Farmers Market is an event that should be given priority during its months of operation. Not only was the Square created with such a market in mind; its operation is consistent with this vision.

• The Dogwood Arts Festival, Holidays on Ice Skating Rink, and Sundown in the City are either city sponsored or significant community events with a history at Market Square. These events bring large numbers of people to the Square with predictability. They are enjoyed by many residents and visitors.

• Otherwise events will be scheduled according the rules and regulations promulgated below if they meet the following criteria. These will be reinforced through a signed agreement, violation of which will lead to event stoppage.

Criteria for Events at Market Square*


Sound should be at a level that would permit a small public address or speaker system. The level of amplification should be such that the average person can carry on a conversation at a nearby restaurant patio. Amplification for press events or rallies should not exceed this level and should be no louder than is necessary to reach those in attendance.

This policy is not in effect for City Priority Events, such as Sundown in the City, when the public has an expectation of a concert atmosphere in the Square. However for these events intrusive sound checks should be no more frequent or loud than is necessary to ensure a successful concert experience.

Public Space Utilization

Normally event-provided seating should be limited at approximately 150 -200 with the array of chairs not reaching beyond the line established by the trees. There should not be an expectation that the Square serve as an assembly hall. There are other more suitable venues for large seated gatherings. No private ticketed events will be held on Market Square.

Sunday Usage

No events will be scheduled on Sunday beginning earlier than 1:30. Likewise setup will not be permitted earlier than 1:30. No events using amplification will be scheduled.

Set Up / Take Down

Event planners should ensure that set-up and take-down is minimally intrusive in regard to parking of vehicles, noise generated, and time of day used. Set up will occur no earlier than 8 AM and no later than 10 PM. Care will be taken to minimize noise and disruption during mealtime hours.


Vehicles should not use the Square other than to the degree that they are essential to support an event. At those times vehicles should make every effort not to block or interfere with businesses and should remain on the Square only when their presence is essential to the task at hand.

Electric Power

No individual or event shall make use of the City’s electric power without explicit prior approval. This approval will be conditional on parameters established by the Office of Special Events consistent with this policy.

*Exceptions to this policy are events identified by the city as priority public events. These include but are not limited to Sundown in the City, The Holidays on Ice Skating Rink, and some parts of the Dogwood Arts Festival. They will be noted as such on the calendar. In all cases exceptions are acceptable only to the degree necessary for the efficient operation of the event.

Factchecker's picture

Will this do anything to nix

Will this do anything to nix the guy with the pan flute?

Bill Lyons's picture

Pan Flute Exclusion?

Will this do anything to nix the guy with the pan flute?

Well, I guess I could put you down for adding a "non pan flute" rule. How about accordions?

Hayduke's picture

Paging Chuck Barris

Clearly the only fair solution is to hang the Market Square bell and provide a big Gong Show mallet. Any busker would be free to continue until gonged. For your enforcement convenience, and to moderate any pre-gong debate, there already KPD officers guarding the bell most days.

gonzone's picture


We can't have pan flute and accordion bigots setting policy for all of us! :-)

And what happened to my Elvis guy? And the street corner preacher? The times they are a'changing!

Seriously, thanks for helping to create open and transparent government with your posts Bill Lyons.

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Jason McDonald's picture

If this is the way they do

If this is the way they do city government in Knoxville Tennessee I am mightily impressed. Everywhere I have lived they just pronounce it and get defensive if you ask about it.

StaceyDiamond's picture


As someone who attended the meeting, I like this. I enjoy the way Market Square draws huge crowds for special events and is also a nice place to just hang out and you need a balance. As little as four years ago when I worked up there it was hard to find a place open at night to eat and its a completely different place now.
I'm glad that it seems Sundown, the market and ice rink will have a prominent place. It seems a typical bacward Knoxville thing to do, that since these events are so popular that some would actually call for their end!! That makes me crazy and WATE likes to flame that sentiment.
I can also see why some that would live there would complain. I grew to hate UT sports while living in Fort Sanders and I saw why beach residents hated tourists. But I learned to either leave for the day or just stay and try to enjoy it. I enjoy the flute player btw, but don't believe for a second he gives his tips to under priviledged children.

Bill Lyons's picture

Comment deleted

Comment deleted because changes made to original post. Thanks.

StaceyDiamond's picture


Is the meeting at 5:30 again?

Bill Lyons's picture

Meeting Time

Yes it is Stacey (Correction made in post). I hope you can come again. We really appreciated your contributions last time.

Bill Lyons's picture

Market Square Policy Now Complete

After two public meetings and a lot of discussion the Market Square event policy is now ready. Thanks to everyone for the good discussions we had as we worked through a lot of issues, large and not-so-large and reached some good points of compromise. I am sure we will hit a some bumps in the road as we move toward implementation but I think we are now in a better place.


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