Downtown business owner Asa Reese wants music and art to fill the streets of Crossville. He believes a downtown arts and music festival could bring thousands of people to the city.

“Music, songwriting and the arts are a good fit for Crossville,” Reese told the Crossville City Council last month.

Reese owns Grinder House Coffee on Main St., which hosts a popular live music singer-songwriter each week and broadcasts the show around the world.

With events just starting to return following the shut down of the global pandemic, Reese has set October 2022 for the first event. There would be seven venues for live music with six genres of music represented, 300 arts booths, merchandise booths, food trucks and more across three days of music. Reese thinks 10,000 or more could attend.

But it’s going to take a lot of community effort to make it successful, he said.

Right now, he’s working on setting up a board of directors and complete a detailed festival plan. 

He proposed naming the festival “At the Crossroads” as a nod to the city’s past and staging it along Main St. in the downtown area.

“That’s how Crossville developed,” Reese said. “Trade and commerce was part of it from the very beginning. Our little intersection of two stage roads became the city that we know and love today.”

Crossville also sits along several scenic corridors and state tourism trails, including stops on the Pie in the Sky and Promised Land trails. Cumberland County and Crossville also have four markers on the Tennessee Music Pathways: The Cumberland County Playhouse, The Palace Theatre, Grinder House Coffee and the Cumberland County Courthouse, noting Crossville as the hometown of country music artist Mandy Barnett.

“We have a great deal of assets in Cumberland County,” Reese told the council.

The arts generate $1.2 billion in economic activity each year in Tennessee, Reese said, supporting 38,000 jobs.

“Music and arts — this low-hanging fruit is something we can capitalize on an annual festival,” he said.

Reese stressed he wasn’t looking to create a Bonnaroo-type festival in Cumberland County. Instead, he envisions a boutique festival experience.

“Across the country, arts and music festivals are a $30 billion industry,” Reese said. 

Of those, 22% are music festivals, 19% are fine art fairs and 14% are multi-discipline festivals.

“A lot of small, urban communities are using heritage and the arts for economic development,” Reese said.

Reese outlined a festival with three-days of music and songwriting with a juried fine art fair. The acts would be streamed, as well. There would be songwriting workshops and clinics on playing instruments.

“The reason I bring up songwriting is there is an educational component,” he said. 

The festival would also tie into the state’s Soundtrack of America tourism promotion and help the festival qualify for state and federal grant opportunities.

Reese would like to package festival tickets with packages for golf, theater, outdoors activities and more. 

“Expand just beyond downtown and show the assets that we have,” he said.

 

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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