World's Fair Park
Heislell (Knoxville), TN - Events of Friday, September 26 to Monday, September 29, 2014
We were looking forward to exploring the Knoxville area since we hadn't been there for several years, but we didn't quite feel like going out sightseeing right away on Friday after two days of travel. However, we did find a barbecue restaurant located close by, so we decided to give them a try later on Friday afternoon.
Archer's BBQ has 4 locatons around the Knoxville area, and one of them was in a little strip mall only about 10 minutes south of where we were staying.
Archer's has pulled pork and pulled chicken available as sandwiches ($4 to $7.75) or plates ($10.75) that include two sides. They also have ribs that include two sides that range in price from $12 for a third of a rack to $24 for a full rack. We both had pulled pork plates with cole slaw and loaded potato salad (made with sour cream and bacon).
The barbecue was very good - not very smoky, but nice and tender. There were 6 sauces to choose from with varying degrees of sweetness and heat. We liked the original and the Memphis the best because they were both sweet and tart at the same time with a bit of heat. The slaw was good, and the potato salad was excellent.
We took another opportunity to eat out on Monday at a nearby Texas Roadhouse because Paul had gotten an e-mail coupon for a free appetizer for his birthday. His birthday was the week prior, so the coupon was about to expire. We hated to let that happen since there was a Texas Roadhouse so close by. :-)
We had rattlesnake bites for our free appetizer. Rattlesnake bites are deep-fried cheese and jalepeño balls. They were yummy.
One reason we like Texas Roadhouse so much is most of them have early bird specials until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday (and until 3:00 on Friday if that particular restaurant is open for lunch - some locations are not) that include 8 or 10 menu items for $8.99. We always get the 6 oz. sirloin. Margery had Caesar salad and baked potato for her two sides, and Paul had a tossed salad and mashed potatoes. The meal was good, but the steaks weren't quite as tender as they usually are.
After hanging around for a few more days, we noticed the weather report was predicting rain for Friday and much cooler temperatures for several days following that. Since Thursday was the last nice day for a while, we decided to get out and do some sightseeing.
In 1982, Knoxville had a world's fair that was officially known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition. The fair was built on a 70-acre site between the downtown business district and the University of Tennessee that was primarily an old rail yard. The fair received 11 million visitors over the six months it was open.
World's Fair Park is what remains of the 1982 World's Fair. It is located next to the convention center (also on what was previously part the World's Fair site) on the western side of the downtown business district.
The Knoxville Museum of Art is next to World's Fair Park and was built on the former site of the Japanese pavillion. We parked at the free public parking lot located next to the art museum.
All that remains of the World's Fair are the Sunsphere and the Amphitheater. The Sunsphere is a 266-foot tall steel tower topped by a 5-story gold globe that became the symbol for the fair. The amphitheater is the tent-like structure to the left in the photo below.
Water from the lake that lies between the amphitheater and the Sunsphere flows down a man-made cascade at the southern end of the park. The water is recirculated back to the other end of the lake near the Sunsphere.
We crossed the bridge over the cascade and headed up the other side of the lake toward the Sunsphere.
There is an elevator to the observation deck on the 4th level, which is in the bottom part of the sphere. There is a 360º view of Knoxville, although the view would be a lot better if the windows were cleaner.
From the Sunsphere, we continued our walk to the northern end of the park where there is a large fountain.
Also located at the northern end of the park is the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial. The memorial honors over 6,000 fallen heroes from East Tennessee who died in service to their country from WWI to the present.
As we walked past the Knoxville Museum of Art on our way back to the car, we noticed a sign outside that said admission was free. Since it was still early, we decided to go in to take a look around.
There was a special exhibit of photography on the main floor. No photography was permitted on the main floor because of the special exhibit. On the upper floor where photogtaphy was permitted, there was an exhibit of art of eastern Tennessee. One side of the upper gallery featured contemporary art.
Notice the upside-down picture of the Mona Lisa at the right of the above photo. When we got closer, we could see it was made from spools of different colored thread.
The Mona Lisa was upside down, but when viewed through the glass sphere mounted in front, the picture was right side up.
Another interesting sculpture was a hyper-realistic, larger-than-life-size bust of the back of a man's head. The sculpture has incredible detail with translucent, life-like skin complete with blemishes, wrinkles and individual hairs. It was much like the sculpture of the security guard we saw this past spring at the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy in Sarasota. Click here to read about the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsey.
The interesting thing about this sculpture is it is almost two-dimensional.
The other half of the upstairs gallery featured more traditional art from throughout the 1900s.
After we finished at the art museum, it was still rather early, so we went off looking for something else to see. We'll tell you about it in our next post.