There was no rain in sight on Saturday, and that meant more people came out to listen to music, check out vendors, and enjoy the sights and sounds from the 13th annual Blue Plum festival.
One of the many activities available Saturday was the Blue Plum animation festival presented by East Tennessee State University’s Digital Media Center.
This was the eighth year that the Digital Media center produced the animation festival.
“The animations are from other schools and professionals as well as independent animators around the country and around the world,” said Jonathan Hounshell, director of the animation festival and ETSU faculty member. “This year, we had over 50 entries that we accepted.”
The animations were divided up into seven 50-minute shows over the weekend. Many of those shows repeated, Hounshell said.
The animations were judged by industry professionals and awards were given in each category. The categories included student entries, independent entries and professional work. There were also audience choice awards handed out.
There was only one criteria for entries into the show.
“Basically, as long as it met the family friendly criteria, we accepted it,” he said. “Even some of the ones that were a little bit off color, we saved for the evening show so that the little ones weren’t brought to that one. If anything matches that profile, we accept it. It’s the judging process that really makes the best ones above the rest.”
One of the draws for people to come to the Blue Plum was the ability to consume alcohol in the streets. Festival-goers had many options on where to purchase their alcohol.
Those options included downtown pubs and bars.
“We usually don’t do anything super special for Blue Plum, but business is always a lot better,” said James Thompson, manager of Tipton Street Pub. “There’s just so much traffic coming through here every day.”
Some business owners don’t know if Blue Plum is necessarily good for all businesses.
“I think some of the downtown businesses, like the antique shops, I don’t think they do significantly better,” said Janine Broyles, general manager of Neuman’s sports bar. “It more benefits the bars, as far as sales and stuff.”
Broyles did say sales had increased on Saturday compared to Friday. She believes the weather had a lot to do with the sales jump.
Many of the events attracted a lot more people on Saturday than on Friday. The Little City Roller Girls had significant sized crowds gathered around the Tipton Street parking lot to check out their matches.
There were also plenty of people gathered around the music stages listening to some of the bands play. If festival-goers didn’t like what they heard on the Market Street Stage, they could walk down the street to the Jazz Stage.
There were also street performers located throughout the festival grounds. Outside of the Little City Roller Girls parking lot, a street magician was performing tricks and making balloon hats for the kids.
Some muscians were showcasing themselves away from the stages.
“The reason I’m here is to make money, but music itself is a passion of mine,” said 23-year-old Harper Miles. “I enjoy doing it. If I make something, I do and if I don’t, I don’t. It’s not a big deal, I have fun doing it anyway.”
Miles has been coming to the Blue Plum festival for six years. He enjoys playing acoustic songs of all kinds, from 3 Doors Down to Johnny Cash to Jason Mraz and everything in between.
All of the performers felt they brought something different to the Blue Plum than the traditional bands on stage.
“I offer soul, which is something they offer as well,” said Alan Braden, one of the musicians. “I feel like I play real stuff. I just play my own stuff. I don’t know anybody else’s songs. I just feel what I play and usually play happy music.”
When not listening to music or checking out the vendors, festival-goers could take part in the cornhole tournament. If they got up early enough Saturday morning, they could have also taken part in the 5k run that happens every year.
The Blue Plum always offers benefits for downtown.
“I think it benefits every business downtown, honestly,” Thompson said.