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Dogwood Arts Festival Scrapbooks

Identifier: MS-3747

  • Staff Only

The Dogwood Arts Festival Scrapbooks includes scrapbooks, photographs, news clippings, promotional materials, and administrative documents that date 1962-2005, with the bulk of the material dating 1980-1998.

Series I: News Clippings and Other Publications, 1962-1964 May 1, undated -- This series consists of loose newspaper clippings, brochures, pamphlets, administrative documents, and other materials not collected in scrapbooks, dating between 1962-1964. Early Dogwood Arts committee members collected many of the papers included in this series, which document the committee planning the second, third and fourth festivals.

Series II: Photographs, 1995-2003 -- This series includes photographs taken at air shows, fundraiser dinners, parades and other events occurring between 1995 and 2003. Photographs of note include images depicting Navy and Air Force air shows featuring the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels, as well as photos for 2002's "Bearfoot in the City" dinner and auction, which sold artist-decorated fiberglass bears that had previously adorned downtown Knoxville.

Series III: Scrapbooks, 1962-2005 -- The bulk of the collection contains scrapbooks holding newspaper clippings, photographs, brochures, pamphlets, fliers, and other promotional materials. Dogwood Arts collected these scrapbooks between 1962 and 2005, with the majority of the collection dating between 1980 and 1998. The earliest scrapbook records the second annual Dogwood Arts Festival. Another scrapbook highlights the first and only time the festival hosted a Hollywood-like movie premiere, for the movie A Walk in the Spring Rain (1970) at the Capri Theater in West Knoxville.


  • 1962-2005

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


5.5 Linear Feet


The Dogwood Arts Festival Scrapbooks document the annual spring cultural arts festival that has occurred since April 1961 in Knoxville, Tennessee. This collection includes scrapbooks, photographs, news clippings, promotional materials, and administrative papers that date 1962-2005, with the bulk of the material dating 1980-1998.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Dogwood Arts Festival has occurred every April since 1961 in Knoxville, Tenn. The festival celebrates the city's cultural arts community, beautification efforts, and art education programs. The current festival's events include arts and crafts exhibitions and fairs, the Rhythm N' Blues music festival, a house and garden show, a parade, recreational activities, and the festival's signature attraction, the Dogwood Trails.

The festival's origins can be traced to the 1947 bestselling travel book, Inside U.S.A., in which New York newspaper reporter John Gunther referred to Knoxville as the "ugliest city [he] ever saw in America, with the possible exception of some mill towns in New England." Other visitors to Knoxville and the city's inhabitants had similar comments about the city due to coal dust covering the downtown and surrounding area, among other concerns. However, Gunther's characterization spurred Knoxville citizens to action.

The city's government enacted a community-wide beautification project, which encouraged citizens to plant dogwood trees and other local spring flowering plants in their yards and neighborhoods. Betsey Beeler Creekmore, Martha Ashe, and Betsy Goodson led the Knoxville Garden Club, in collaboration with area civic leaders, the Chamber of Commerce and local school students, in establishing the first Dogwood Trail in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood in 1955. The driving trail looped around the neighborhood, highlighting homes that featured dogwoods and other flowering plants with especially flattering curb appeal. The Holston Hills neighborhood opened its Dogwood Trail in 1956, with the Fountain City and Lake Forest neighborhood trails opening the following year. Today, Knoxville hosts eight Dogwood Trails and five Dogwood Garden Byways across the city.

An early champion for the Dogwood Trails, Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Carson Brewer proposed a dogwood festival in his column in 1959. He cited Cosby, Tenn.'s successful ramp festival as inspiration for Knoxville's own festival celebrating its indigenous dogwood trees. In 1960, a committee representing government, business, educational and artist interests approved starting an annual arts festival. The Chamber of Commerce and the Junior League of Knoxville sponsored the first festival that would begin the following April. The new festival hosted 28 local groups for a 10-day occasion. It introduced 24 events that included crafts on downtown's Market Square and an Al Hirt Dixieland concert. The festival grew to feature a house and garden show and A Very Special Arts Festival for special needs art students. Previous festivals hosted Navy and Air Force air shows, art and talent contests, fashion shows, debutante balls, sports tournaments, celebrity appearances, and a movie premiere, just to name a few events.

Current festivals phased out several events and focused on existing events that highlighted Knoxville's beautification and artistic efforts. During the 2010s, the festival added Rhythm 'N Blooms; Bazillion Blooms, an initiative to sell and plant dogwood trees across the city; and the Chalk Walk, a street painting festival encouraging artists and students to create chalk art on downtown Knoxville sidewalks.


The collection consists of 26 boxes and is arranged in the following series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: News Clippings and Other Publications, 1962-1964 May 1, undated
  2. Series II: Photographs, 1995-2003
  3. Series III: Scrapbooks, 1962-2005

Acquisition Note

Dogwood Arts donated this collection to Special Collections in 2013.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA