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  • Writer's picturetylercates

Wish That I Was On Ol' Rocky Top

Dedicated readers of this blog and those who follow me on social media likely know that Knoxville, Tennessee is one of my favorite places in the world. The people. It's close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains. The Tennessee River. Of course, the University of Tennessee and all that it entails.

This past weekend, I made a whirlwind trip to K-town centered around the Vols football game against the Akron Zips (more on that later).

On the drive down from West Virginia, B and I called an audible and decided to attend the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts concert at the Tennessee Valley Fair on Friday night.

The Tennessee Valley Fair is held at Chilhowie Park in Knoxville and holds a significant place in professional wrestling history, as it is where the Jacob Building and Homer Hamilton Theater are located. Both venues hosted numerous events for decades for Southeastern Championship Wrestling. One interesting note is that the Knoxville territory was the only territory whose main venue was an outdoor venue. Stars such as Don and Ron Wright, Nelson Royal, Les Thatcher, Bob Armstrong, Robert Fuller, Ron Fuller, Jimmy Golden, The Mongolian Stomper, 'Dr. D" David Shultz, Dennis Condrey and Phil Hickerson all competed at Chilhowie Park. While many modern (mainstream) fans may not be familiar with all of these names, people who KNOW wrestling know that these men were the cream of the crop. I consider myself a bit of a wrestling historian and East Tennessee history (1974-'95) in particular holds a special place with me, so it was a treat for me to see these venues in person.

Joan Jett was a blast. This was my 4th time seeing Joan Jett and The Blackhearts; the first time being in 1988 at Shepherd College (now Shepherd University, where my youngest daughter just began her collegiate career). In fact, that concert way back in '88 was my first concert without adult supervision. As always, JJ was awesome, and it was interesting to note that a huge portion of the large, enthusiastic audience was young. When I say young, I mean they weren't even born the first time I saw Joan Jett perform live. Fun night and a great start to the weekend.

Saturday morning was fairly lowkey, as we got breakfast and did some shopping, including backtracking to Smoky Mountain Knife Works. I only added one new knife to my collection this time around.

We got down to the area around Neyland Stadium around 2pm and spent some time at the UT bookstore, before heading over to Peyton Manning Pass for the Vol Walk. We settled in at a good vantage point for our first Vol Walk of the Heupel Era, as we didn't get to attend a game in Knoxville last year due to me testing positive for Covid and missing it at the Music City Bowl (if it even happened). I usually walk along Volunteer Landing and/or hit Vol Village, but I was feeling a bit tired all weekend, so we just hung out close to the stadium.

The game was an homage to the 50th anniversary of the first night game at Neyland where Condredge Holloway and the Vols defeated Penn State. Thankfully, we had great seats for this game. Despite it being a blow out in favor of the Vols, it was definitely a 'spirited" game, with chirping between both teams, although I'm not sure what Akron had to chirp about. I had a great time, which is easy to do at a Vols game. Singing "Rocky Top" - chanting "V-O-L-S, Go Vols Go!"-"It's Great To be a Tennessee Vol!"

Vols won 63-6 to set up a big showdown next weekend with Florida.

At the risk of putting the cart in front of the horse, I hope the Vols get a decent bowl game in a warm destination for a December trip. I'll be back in Knoxville (hopefully) in January for a basketball weekend.

Thanks for reading and I'll talk to you soon!

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