published Monday, June 18th, 2012

Honoring dads: Chattanooga Market does it with beer, bluegrass

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    Graham Gibson, nearly 1 year old, gets a ride on the shoulders of his father, Eric Gibson, as Father's Day is celebrated Sunday at the Chattanooga Market.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

Brewers, butchers and woodworkers at the Chattanooga Market enjoyed good business Sunday as scores of families brought their dads out to the third annual Brew and Bluegrass event in honor of Father's Day.

"Jewelers and florists suffer today," joked craftsman Tody Brock of Windy Hill Woodworks, a sentiment shared by other vendors. He added that the crowd was smaller than he expected, but people still were buying his handmade pens as gifts for their dads.

"We're doing pretty good today," said vendor Trae Moore of his cured-meats business, Link 41.

Four local breweries were also on hand and dispensed as much as 600 pints of locally crafted beer, according to Tony Giannasi of the Chattanooga Brewing Co.

"I was really surprised at how fast they all went," he said. "We could have used twice as much beer."

Dads roamed the First Tennessee Pavilion to the sounds of Chattanooga band Slim Pickins and enjoyed time with their kids.

In the line for balloon animals, toddler Donny Hartsell IV bounced to the bluegrass bass line, and his father, Donald III, laughingly joined in his dance. Like many of the attendees, they came from out of town -- Atlanta, in their case -- and were impressed by the event.

"It's pretty neat; I've never seen anything like it," Donald Hartsell said.

At the free photo booth, Michael Lockwood knelt between his daughters Katherine and Emmy, and they gave him a peck on each cheek for the camera.

Photographer Steven Llorca said he'd photographed about 100 families over the course of the day, and while kids are usually the ones who ham it up for the camera, today dads were stealing the spotlight. He remembered two fathers who literally swept their adult daughters off their feet for a photo.

"The girls definitely didn't expect that," he recalled.

Another big draw was the Lego build competition sponsored by Habitat for Humanity. Dads and kids knelt in mounds of Lego bricks trying to construct the most creative composition for a chance to win Lego play sets.

Dads' influences were apparent, as the finished projects were almost exclusively trucks, jets, helicopters, spacecraft and boats, many piloted by robots and adorned with cannons and flames.

"I think [the fathers] are having more fun than their kids," spectator Tenia Coggins said.

At $5 per team, Habitat Director of Volunteers Dawn Hjelseth estimated that the event brought in about $800 for the organization.

Slim Pickins mandolinist Deron Stevens said at the end of the afternoon that the crowd was even better than last year, not only bigger but more fun and responsive.

"Playing bluegrass for a crowd in Chattanooga seems to work most of the time," he said.

The market's general manager, Paul Smith, also was pleased with the event.

"It's been a good success today," he said. "It's a chance for Dad not to get away but to spend a day with the family."

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