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Some East Tennessee festivals still planning to host crowds despite heavy rain from hurricane

Some major events planned for the weekend are still expecting crowds to come out, such as Pridefest in downtown Knoxville or the Second Bell Music Festival.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As Hurricane Ian pummels Florida, it will also push some wet weather into East Tennessee. Many of the festivals scheduled for the same weekend are still expecting to host big crowds — rain or shine.

Knox Pride had to take a break from its Pridefest celebration because of the pandemic. This weekend will be their first time back in over two years, and organizers said they still expect to host crowds.

The Second Bell Music Festival will also have a Grammy award-winning artist headlining their show. Both organizers of the festivals say they're not going to let the rain stop what is in store this weekend. 

“We've got 'Big Boy' headlining from Ou Kast,” said Rusty Odom, the founder of Second Bell Music Festival.

He said a song by OutKast perfectly captures his team's attitude toward the rain expected during the weekend.

"And in the song Miss Jackson, it says, 'You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather.' And so that gave me I just chuckled about it,” he said. 

For him, those lyrics are confirmation that the show must go on. He said the Second Bell Music festival will happen no matter what.

"It's rained a little bit at some point each year, so it's just, this business is a little bit of a gamble, but it's so much fun,” said Odom. "It's all worth it whenever you see people smiling and having a good time". 

Knox Pride has big plans this weekend too. They are organizing Pridefest 2022, which will feature several headliners from across the U.S. One of them includes a founder of the Knoxville Gay Men's Chorus, as well as award-winning performers who made their marks in all kinds of genres.

"Rain or shine, you will see us Friday through Sunday. After three years people are eager to get together," said Nathan Higdon, Knox Pride's Chief Financial Officer. 

He said Pridefest will be their first big event since 2019, but there were some concerns when organizers realized Hurricane Ian could bring rain to East Tennessee.

He says there were some concerns when he realized that Hurricane Ian could bring rain to East Tennessee.

"A lot of blood and sweat and tears, as they say, goes into it," he said. "It scared everyone, but the show must go on."

Higdon and Odom say there will be places where people can keep dry during each of the festivals. Pridefest will have three days of events in the downtown Knoxville area, such as a parade on Friday and a celebration at World's Fair Park on Saturday and Sunday.

The Second Bell Music Festival will also last Friday and Saturday at three stages across Knoxville.

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