Two of Knoxville's biggest events are trading places this year.
Visit Knoxville and UT confirmed on Tuesday that this year's annual Boomsday celebration will be on Saturday night, August 30. The University of Tennessee's home football opener against Utah State will move from that night to Sunday night, August 31. The swap was made to give Vols fans the opportunity for a unique and memorable Labor Day weekend.
"This will be a unique and exciting weekend for our city and our state," said Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones said in a news release. "With Boomsday on Saturday and our season opener on Sunday, the atmosphere and energy in Knoxville will be unrivaled. We're also excited about being one of the schools featured on the first weekend of SEC Network football telecasts, and we are looking forward to this tremendous opportunity."
This isn't the first time for the date change. In 2004, UT opened their season with a victory on Sunday night over UNLV in Neyland Stadium. Boomsday was held the night before, which was a big hit for local businesses, because visitors stayed an extra day.
UT has shown a recent willingness to break with tradition. They opened their season on Friday night in 2012, with a win over N.C. State in the Georgia Dome. In 2015, they'll open the season against UAB in Nashville, and will battle Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol in 2016.
"Holding Boomsday on Saturday in partnership with the University gives the opportunity to provide Vol fans and visitors alike with a truly memorable holiday weekend," said Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville. "Events like this stimulate our local economy and highlight all that Knoxville has to offer. We look forward to celebrating this great city all weekend long."
Downtown Knoxville businesses are excited about the date swap too. The Holiday Inn at World's Fair Park said it could mean a boost to business.
"Obviously from a hotel, restaurant and retail standpoint, you've now got people who potentially may come in a day early for that weekend and of course leave a half-a-day later," said Holiday Inn General Manager Marc Bauer.
The Boomsday fireworks will again be broadcast live on WBIR. You can get a full schedule of the day's events at the Boomsday website.
In addition to the different date, Visit Knoxville has announced other changes to the annual Labor Day festival, including a VIP viewing area.
Knoxville-based band the Black Lillies will headline the event on the main stage with other local artists performing a variety of music from jazz to country and bluegrass on a total of 3 stages.
Admission to this year's event is $20 per adult (children 12 and under free) and includes access to a programmed and secured fireworks viewing along Neyland. Your admission grants full access to all performances, a family-friendly kids area, new food vendors, shopping and much more. There's even a VIP area for Veterans (who can attend Boomsday for free with Military I.D.)
"I think what you're going to see it do is make Boomsday a little more of a quality event, a little more of a controlled event, a little more of a programmed event," said Bumpas.
Boomsday tickets go on sale in July.
WEB EXTRA: WBIR story from Boomsday 1991
A look back at the early days of Boomsday, in a story from 1991 on the excitement of Boomsday.
WEB EXTRA: Interview with original Boomsday organizer, Larry Trotter
An interview with Larry Trotter, the original organizer of Boomsday.