This past Wednesday, Karen Tindal provided 20 Farragut residents and media representatives including myself a trip on the Visit Farragut FAM Tour, and Knox the Fox tagged along, unbeknown to my fellow riders.
We boarded our Chariots for Hire bus at Top Golf and headed to our first of several stops: the Cotton Eyed Joe. Owner Chuck Ward recounted the fascinating history of the venue that is celebrating its 30th-year of operation on Friday, September 1, 2023, which will be celebrated with many special dignitaries in town for the night.
Ward bought the infamous “Joe” in 2017 after a fluke conversation with the previous owner and says it’s the best decision he has ever made. Putting his touch on it, making it safer, adding more appealing renovations, improving air conditioning and, with the addition of Top Golf down the road, the revenue has increased 33%. He looks forward to future possibilities of an outside space for entertainment called “Outside Joes.”
Besides the inside tour of the Joe, the group got line dancing instruction from Bubba who has been doing the same for the entire 30 years so come and see Bubba for lessons and pure fun! Cotton Eyed Joe
The groups next stop was the Fairfield Inn, one of nine motels in Farragut, to hear from Mayor Ron Williams and to have a nice box lunch. Mayor Williams addressed questions about traffic issues in the area as well as local businesses coming to Farragut. Word has it that four new restaurants are opening soon including Tupelo Honey as the anchor plus Smash City, Super Chix, a pizza place, donut shop, Hot Yoga and an unnamed grocery store.
Next up, Lauren Cox, parks manager, spoke to us at McFee Park under the pavilion, telling us how the park has evolved in multiple phases over the decades to suit the community including a recent grant from Tennova Healthcare to build a 1.5-mile adaptive bike and hike trail in the 50-acre park Farragut Parks
Back on the bus we motored over to Cool Sports, a multi-use facility housing the only NHL sheet of ice in the area with the exception of the Icebears hockey rink in Knoxville. Ronald Cohorst, assistant manager, said the rink has tournaments for over 30 weeks in the building. The local team was formerly known as Knoxville Jr. Icebears but rebranded as Smoky Mountain Wild. They have started a 12U all-girls team, Lady Wild.
Besides the ice side of Cool Sports, there is a turf side supporting full event space for corporate and private events with full kitchen catering. The turf side includes courts and fields to host tournaments for basketball, soccer and lacrosse. Cool Sports is also planning to be the future home of D1 satellite program. Cool Sports
The next two stops gave us community resources: the Farragut Community Center and Pinnacle at Turkey Creek. Claire Malmquist, recreation and event coordinator for Farragut Community Center, toured us through the multiple-use rooms in the beautifully renovated church turned center. From birthday parties to yoga classes, the center is completely dedicated to community service. The basement was transformed by Knox County into the Knox County Senior Center.
My bus buddy partner, Carol Hulton, commented about the senior center when we first got on the bus. Originally from Massachusetts, she said, “I am amazed at the senior center in Farragut. They take care of everything. They take us everywhere, like to Tennessee Theatre, to Emory Place, all over and we don’t have to worry. We just show up. I could never find those places on my own.” It was a tribute long before we ever got there on the tour.
The Pinnacle at Turkey Creek is an oasis in the middle of concrete parking, stores and restaurants. Complete with benches, tables and chairs with provided WiFi, you can rest with a lunch, a snack, a drink or just watch the masses wander by. I am sure Knox will remember the location in the future. Farragut Community Center
Our last stop was our first stop but we heard from Mark Grenier, director of operations, who is celebrating the first year of Top Golf being open in Knoxville. He gave us the history of the 23-year-old company that now has 98 locations. The two-story location on 10 acres has 50,000 square feet and can host up to 1,200 people in an event. Most of the food is prepared fresh onsite and Karen kept pushing us to try the macaroni bites which I can attest from previous visits are delicious as are the wings. Top Golf
Tourism is the second leading industry in Tennessee and there is a lot to Farragut tourism since 22,000 guests spent the night there, according to 2021 figures. The Farragut FAM Tour was well worth the day for Knox the Fox! Visit Farragut
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