By Ken Lay

The City of Knoxville hosted a ribbon-cutting Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the renovation of the Performance Lawn at World’s Fair Park.

The ceremony was held just one day before the lawn temporarily opened for Knoxville’s annual Festival on the Fourth, a staple in East Tennessee for years.

After the July 4 festivities, the park closed and Knoxville City Mayor Madeline Rogero said that the lawn is projected to re-open on Aug. 1.

The lawn had been closed for renovation since January as a $2.5 million effort to update water and electrical services.

New sod and pervious paver hardscaping were also added and the area around the entry gates was expanded.

Rogero and Vice Mayor Finbarr Saunders were present on the hot afternoon ceremony along with representatives from the Public Building Authority, the city’s Special Events Office and the various contractors who worked on the project.

“We’re extremely blessed to have a park like this in Downtown Knoxville,” Rogero said. “Most cities don’t have a place like this downtown. It’s close to [the University of Tennessee’s] campus.

“Last year, 158,000 people came to events here and that’s not counting friends and families that came here to just enjoy the park, to throw Frisbees or footballs or those who used it for fitness activities. We’re happy to have this open for the Festival on the Fourth. After the festival, the lawn will close so the construction can be completed and it will open again on Aug.1. We have some more things to improve.”

The mayor added that the changes will make the Performance Lawn, located on the south end of World’s Fair Park, will make things better for performers as well as for those who attend the various events, fundraisers and concerts held at the venue annually.

“We’re here today to mark the re-opening of the newly renovated Performance Lawn at World’s Fair Park,” Rogero said. “These improvements will make it better for the performers and the attendees who come to the various events here. We’re very excited about this.

“We have a new irrigation system and Bermuda grass and I’ve been assured that this drains. “

In year’s past, the lawn didn’t drain and the city had to place straw on the lawn to keep it from being virtually destroyed on rainy and subsequent days and that left things extremely messy.

“I remember the days when we had to bring in straw because this never drained well,” Rogero said. “Now, things will be better for everyone who uses the lawn, for performers, for attendees and for those who come here on a daily basis to enjoy the park and enjoy the weather.”