This maze, modeled after the star of "Dave Made a Maze," greeted attendees of the opening opening of this past weekend's Chattanooga Film Festival.

Every now and then, someone who is fairly new to the city will say something about how cool or progressive our city is, especially when it comes to the arts, music and culinary scenes. It seems to take those of us who've been around awhile by surprise.

Which is really the surprise, if that makes sense.

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Barry Courter

For example, the other day a guy who has been here about a year said, "Chattanooga has a better music scene than where I came from in California."

The guy next to me has been here about 30 years, and we looked at each other like we were trying to figure out where in California this guy's cave that he lived in was located. It was more a force-of-habit reaction than one based in reality.

There is a lot going on here, and sometimes I think we tend to not appreciate or even believe it.

Sometimes we get stuck in our attitudes or perceptions, especially if we also get stuck in a rut and don't get out and see what is actually happening.

Consider just this past weekend, for example. The Tivoli Theatre was especially busy with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera doing Mozart and Mahler on Thursday, Black Jacket Symphony performing Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" on Friday and Loretta Lynn there on Saturday.

Revelry Room had four straight nights of shows this past weekend. The Lookouts opened their season last week, as well.

And there were shows at JJ's Bohemia, Clyde's on Main Street, Music Box @ Ziggy's, Barking Legs or even the Kevn Kinney show at Songbirds Guitar Museum.

Any of those strings of events would have been touted as busy weekends not that long ago. But, we also had the Chattanooga Film Festival this past weekend and, in four years, it has become known among film fans and filmmakers as one of the best anywhere. Quite simply, it is so popular because it is so cool and a lot of fun.

The quality and quantity of films alone makes it good, but throw in the parties and things like the amazing maze modeled after the one in the film "Dave Made a Maze," and it gets pushed over the top.

Sculpture Fields celebrated its first full year of operation with live music, food vending and a giant wooden sculpture burn. I bet a lot of people don't even know that we have a park between Main and 23rd streets that is home to 32 giant sculptures created by artists from around the world.

That's not a bad weekend and we aren't even in full swing yet.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.


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