Much has been written and discussed about the 2012 Bessie Smith Strut. Lost in that discussion, which has centered on whether it indeed will happen and who will pay for it, has been the event itself.
I'll leave the "news" items to others for now and focus on what you, the guy who wants to enjoy a beer, a barbecue sandwich and blues music on June 11 on MLK Boulevard, needs to know.
Assuming everything falls into place as currently planned, there will be a strut that night at the same place you've been accustomed to going every Monday during Riverbend for the last 30 years.
For the first time ever, you will need either a Riverbend pin or a wristband to get in. If you have a pin, admission to the strut is free. If you buy a wristband between now and June 9, you will pay $5. After that, they will cost $10.
You can buy the bands at area Kangaroo gas stations, as well as the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Champy's, Maggie G's, JJ's Bohemia or Roshanna's Hair & Beauty Bar, all on MLK, or Mary's Lounge on McCallie Avenue.
You can also buy a ticket online at bessiesmithstrut.eventbrite.com.
For the first time ever, the entire strut area will be fenced. There will be three gates for entering and for leaving. They will be at MLK and Lindsay Street, King Street and 10th Street and MLK and Mabel Street. Gates will open at 4 p.m.
You can expect to be searched for the Strut only. There is a fairly lengthy list of things you cannot bring in with you, though they are the same types of things you would be prohibited from bringing into any festival or concert. Things such as coolers, backpacks, outside food or drink, glass containers, pets, recording equipment, weapons and drugs are not allowed, for example.
There will be vendors selling drinks and food.
Another significant change is that anyone under 17 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult.
And there will be music, starting at 5 p.m. The same acts that were originally booked before Mayor Ron Littlefield announced that changes were needed will perform.
They are Grammy Award-winning blues artist Joe Louis Walker, Motown funk legend Ike Stubblefield, the Lionel Young Band and Hadden Sayers.
They will play on two stages. One will be at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, and the other will be on MLK near the railroad trestle.
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It was great to get inside Engel Stadium earlier this week to watch a bit of the filming of "42." The place looks pretty good, all things considered. It was especially nostalgic to see the concession stand on the third-base side being used to serve snacks and drinks to the cast, crew and extras.
Seeing people milling about in '40s-era costumes was like stepping back in time.
Engel Foundation director Janna Jahn said the plumbing in the concourse bathrooms has been fixed, as has the electrical wiring. The roof also has been repaired.
Her group is still fielding suggestions on how to proceed when the film crew leaves, but its future is better today than it was six months ago.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...