published Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Friends of the Festival board votes not to hold Strut at Riverbend


by Cliff Hightower
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The executive committee for the Friends of the Festival has voted to not hold the Bessie Smith Strut at Riverbend.

Chip Baker, executive director of the Friends of the Festival, told the Chattanooga City Council that the Friends would take the lead on trying to continue holding the event on M.L. King Boulevard.

“We would be happy to facilitate it,” he said.

But questions abound on who would assume liability if the event took place.

Baker told the council today during a Legal and Legislative Committee meeting that his organization would try and get insurance for the event.

“If you can’t get insurance, we don’t have a Strut,” said Councilman Peter Murphy, chairman of the committee.

Plans to hold the Bessie Smith Strut on M.L. King Boulevard in downtown Chattanooga — as it has been for years — were called off recently because Mayor Ron Littlefield had concerns about safety at the event.

Since then, a number of community leaders have called for the strut to take place on King Boulevard.

The mayor put out a memorandum today that detailed a list of demands that would need to be met before the Strut took place at M.L. King Boulevard. Baker and the M.L. King Merchant’s Association said it plans to abide by those rules.

“If it needs tightened up, let’s tighten it up,” Baker said.

For more information read tomorrow’s edition of the Times Free Press.

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