In Any Event 

By the time you hear Rocky Top, it’s too late

If you’re an event planner in East Tennessee, it’s imperative to know the football schedule for the Vols. Fortunately, the schedule is released well ahead of the season, so planners have advance notice to work around all things orange and white.

EventCheck Knox already is looking ahead with the Vols’ four non-conference games in 2020 on the calendar with three in September and one in November. As soon as the SEC releases the 2020 conference schedule, we’ll add those, too.

Neyland Stadium at dusk. (Photo by UT Athletics)

If you’re not yet looking that far ahead – though you probably should be – the 2019 season offers planners a rare opportunity. Read to the end to find out what that is this year.

Avoiding a conflict with a home game is obvious because of the logistics of having tens of thousands of people concentrated in the downtown and campus area. But planners need to keep an eye on road games, too. Parties and gatherings are planned around football games, so that can cut into event attendance as well.

EventCheck Knox has its own version of kickoff when it marks an annual shift from August to September. The month of August is loaded with Saturday events – minus Aug. 31 for the Vols football opener and Labor Day weekend. In September, a lot of events shift to Fridays as planners try to avoid competing against football Saturdays.

Thursdays get loaded in the fall – Oct. 3 already has six major fundraisers –  as planners try to spread out and away from Saturdays. High school football on Friday nights also becomes a factor. The abundance of events makes it impossible to not overlap something, but EventCheck Knox tries to help planners avoid having two of the same kind of events – such as food or fashion – on the same night. (Submit your event HERE. All we need is a confirmed date; details can be added later.)

It is understandable why planners opt to punt when it comes to scheduling an event on Tennessee game day. But it’s not unheard of, either, and it also can work out very well for football fans and, in one case, bear rescue enthusiasts.

“Bear Necessities” raises funds for the rescue of orphaned and injured black bears.

Last spring, Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR) scheduled its major fundraiser, “Bear Necessities,” for Saturday, Sept. 14, from 4-8 p.m. in Blount County. While the football schedule is announced at least a year in advance, kickoff times are not set until much closer to the season and, in some cases, the week of the game after television partners sort through which game they want to broadcast. For ABR’s event Sept. 14, the home football game against Chattanooga ended up being scheduled for noon. Appalachian Bear Rescue ended up with a Saturday event and no overlap with the Vols.

The Knoxville Opera Ball picked a football Saturday on Oct. 19, for its annual Opera Ball at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Tennessee plays Alabama on the same day as the Opera Ball.

While that appears to be a significant conflict, it’s actually a good decision.

The game is in Alabama, and the other three Vol games in October all are at Neyland Stadium.

An event held at the Museum of Art, which borders Fort Sanders and downtown, on football game day would create significant traffic and parking issues for guests.

No one wants to start an event with annoyed attendees. If you plan an event near campus on a football Saturday, make sure the Vols are on the road.

Tennessee vs. Alabama typically gets picked up by CBS, so the kickoff could very well be at 3:30 p.m. The Opera Ball is an evening event that usually starts at 6:30 p.m., about the same time the game would end. If football fans need to be a little late, it would be understandable.

After the game, opera and football enthusiasts can either revel in victory into the night or get their minds off the outcome on the gridiron. (If it ends up being an evening game on ESPN, which gets second choice after CBS, please be patient if your date to the ball steals glances not at you but at his or her phone.

Michael and Judith Foltz at a past Opera Ball. (Blue Streak photo)

By the way, one 2019 open date is Saturday, Sept. 28. “An Evening in Orange,” a significant fundraiser for the University of Tennessee Medical Center, has staked that date.

As far as that promised tip, the second open date this season for the Vols is Saturday, Nov. 16. It’s not common to have two open dates in one season, and the last time it happened was 2014.

(For those wanting the nitty gritty, it’s because the SEC regular season always ends Thanksgiving weekend, setting up the conference championship for the first Saturday in December. So, if Thanksgiving comes late, voila, an extra open date.)

As of now, Nov. 16 looks wide open. If you’re still picking a date for a November event and wanted a Saturday, grab it.


Maria Cornelius, a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael, populates the EventCheck Knox calendar. She enjoys hot summer evenings at baseball games and cold draft beer – and looks forward to cool fall afternoons and college football.


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