KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — You could soon be drinking beer in the streets of downtown Knoxville if a proposed ordinance passes Tuesday night through city council.
The proposal would allow alcohol in the streets and sidewalks during the major festivals within a certain boundary. You cannot bring your own; it must be purchased at the event.
The boundary would include Market Square, Market Street and a section of Gay Street between Clinch and Cumberland Avenues. It also includes graffiti-covered Strong Alley in Market Square.
With all the rain we've had lately, it might be hard to think about the upcoming festival season. However, sunnier days are ahead -- and so are downtown Knoxville's giant festivals.
Knoxville Beer Board Chairman Andrew Roberto said festivals have been requesting the change for a while. He's working to make sure that happens before the first event in March.
The St. Patrick's Day Parade and Cel-O'bragh-tion is the first one of the season on March 14.
"Well, right now on city streets, sidewalks and city parking lots, you're not allowed to have alcoholic beverages," Roberto said.
Market Square and the Old City have a similar ordinance that allows alcohol outside. This ordinance extends those boundaries specifically for festivals.
Aside from the St. Patrick's Day event, the only festivals that exist in the proposed area are the Rossini Festival on April 18, the Dogwood Arts Festival April 24-26 and then the Hola Festival October 10-11.
Roberto hopes more join that list. "You're seeing people interested in having a good time, knowing Knoxville is a good place to visit, but also we're keeping an eye on things to make sure it doesn't get out of control."
He said those drinking would get a wristband and are allowed to walk freely with their beverage within the marked off area. If they step outside that, they'd be in violation of the open container laws.
The proposed map allows traffic to flow with minor road blocks.
"This is a part of that excitement about people wanting to have festivals downtown. I think it'll be a good thing for us to do," Roberto said.
The proposal will require just one vote from Knoxville City Council Tuesday night.