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Autumn Festival


Whether it’s bingo, karaoke or ice cream that tickles your fancy, you’ll find plenty of great food, games and giveaways for UT employees at the Fall Festival. This annual employee appreciation event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12 at the Tennessee Recreation Center for Students (TRECS).

Hosted by Human Resources – and executed with the help of many volunteers – the event draws as many as 4,000 people.

Chancellor Loren Crabtree, Human Resources Executive Director Alan Chesney and administrators representing the Institute of Agriculture and other area units will attend to express their apprecia­tion for the work employees do year round.

Crabtree will greet the audience and call the first bingo game for this year’s 30th anniversary Fall Festival, "AUTumn in Knoxville."

"UT has outstanding, dedicated people," Crabtree said. "They ensure that the daily operations of the university are carried out with the highest principles of customer service. We are grateful for their loyalty and diligence." 

UT is one of the largest employers in East Tennessee, with over 6,000 faculty and staff in the Knoxville area.

"We look forward to a day of fun as we get together for music, games, cold drinks, popcorn, ice cream and a hot lunch," Chesney said. "The festival gives people an opportunity to take a break from work and enjoy good food and each other’s company."

Carol Raxter, executive secretary in Human Resources, has been Fall Festival director for seven years. She does the planning, with help from the Fall Festival team.

"It is truly the one day a year that is dedicated to our employees, and I think we should always go overboard to make sure everyone feels welcome and has a good time," she said.

"Come hungry!" she advises. "The menu for the festival will be jambalaya, tomato bisque, Mississippi coleslaw, biscuits and cornbread and several desserts."

Lunch is prepared by Dining Services and served by HR Records staff and festival volunteers. Lunch for retirees begins at 11 a.m. inside the Aquatic Center. Lunch for all other attendees begins at 11:30 a.m.

Employees from the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA), Facilities Services and the UT RecsSports program also play important roles in the event.

"One of the most important resources UTIA has is its employees, because they are the key ingredient to our success and accomplishments," UTIA Vice President Joseph DiPietro said. "The Fall Festival is a small way to say thank you for all of your hard work and efforts that have advanced the UTIA mission and reputation during the past year."

The UTIA East Tennessee Research and Education Center, led by director John Hodges, donates the festival décor, including pumpkins, cornstalks and hay bales from the agricultural campus. Mayfield Dairies donates the ice cream, and Tommy Burch, program manager for UTIA Food Science and Technology, oversees the ordering and distribution.

Facilities Services employees help by unloading trucks and trailers, stacking hay bales and pumpkins, setting up tables and chairs and hanging balloons and streamers. 

Staff at the TRecs building will be on hand to provide expertise for the sports and games provided by the Recreational Sports Department (RecSports).

"We have a sports zone inflatable," Program Director Jim Walczyk said. "It has an area for shooting basketballs, throwing footballs or kicking soccer balls at targets."

RecSports staff set up games, including croquet, Twister, jousting, bocce ball, life-size sets of chess and checkers, miniature golf, and outdoor bowling with rubber balls and pins. Participants can don sumo suits for wrestling or try climbing, walking and running inside clear inflatable spheres.

Karaoke, always a festival favorite, is provided by Jack Ryan Entertainment. The setup also provides for music and announcements.

Door prize drawings will be held throughout the festival. Prizes range from restaurant gift certificates to movie tickets to UT sports items. Participants can register at information tables throughout the festival, but need not be present to win.

Bingo and the cakewalk begin at 1 p.m. The cakewalk, outside TRECS, will last until all the baked goods are gone. Bingo, one of the most popular events at the festival, will be played inside the Aquatic Center until 3 p.m.

Transportation will be provided by the Orange Line trolley, which runs every 10 minutes, 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. The trolley map is online at www.ci.knoxville.tn.us/kat. T-link buses stop every five minutes before 4 p.m. and every 10 minutes afterward. The T-Link bus map is online at http://www.ridethet.com/. Van service is available with stops at several locations on the main and agricultural campuses throughout the day. Contact Glenn Rieder (grieder@utk.edu, 974-1837) or Mark Smith (msmith38@utk.edu, 974-5084) with questions. Fall Festival parking is available in Staff Lot 25 at the corner of Andy Holt Avenue and Volunteer Boulevard.

There is still time to volunteer by calling Raxter at 974-5153 or e-mailing her at craxter@tennessee.edu.