Ijams Nature Center

At the Ijams Nature Center, a person can experience the most complex and extravagant performance ever: Nature. At the heart of every culture is the land and environment that actually makes it up. Ijams gives people the opportunity to directly interact with and appreciate the natural environment that produced Knoxville. Within fifteen minutes of downtown Knoxville, people can escape the hustle and bustle of the city life and return to nature. Located southwest of Knoxville on Island Home Avenue, Ijams is certainly “off the beaten path.” Though some may view this as an inconvenience, its location actually compliments its natural features that have remained untouched by human hands. Get out and enjoy the natural surrounding of Knoxville; around every corner is another trail that is waiting to be explored.

Ijams Nature Center began in 1910 as the Bird Sanctuary ran by Harry and Alice Ijams. This year actually marks the 100th anniversary of the Ijams family. Since its humble beginnings, Ijams has grown to encompass 175 acres of natural forests, creeks, meadows, wetland, caves, trails, and ponds, and it receives well over 100,000 visitors each year. This fall, the park is also scheduled to open a new 100 acre addition to the existing grounds. Throughout its years as a public attraction, Ijams Nature Center has always sought to increase the knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of the natural world.

One of the things that really makes Ijams Nature Center unique, is that it is truly a place where people of all ages can find enjoyment. For kids and families there are nature education programs that help foster an appreciation of nature early on. For teenagers and college students there is a vast number of trails that are perfect for exploring or riding bikes on. And for the adults and senior citizens there are naturally smooth walking paths and plenty of open space to enjoy a day in the outdoors. Another special exhibit is the Raptor Enclosure that allows visitors to get an up-close look at a Red-tailed Hawk and a Turkey Vulture. The main welcome center contains a state-of-the-art interactive exhibit hall where people can learn about different animals and plants. Ijams also focuses on developing a sense of duty to the environment that we live in. All the buildings were built with eco-friendly methods and materials

As a performance venue, Ijams Nature Center is bursting with potential. The park already hosts several annual events such as Symphony in the Park and Waterfest, and this year they are beginning a new event called IjamsFest. It will be a fundraising event that features local artists, musicians, and food vendors all on the beautiful park grounds. Aside from these performance, the nature center’s grounds would work great with a number of performance types. The large open meadows would be particularly suitable for hosting arts and crafts festivals or outdoor concerts. And for the producers that are looking for something special, the natural woods and land formations are perfect for plays that would thrive in nature. With the beautiful grounds at Ijams Nature Center, the performance possibilities are endless.

Nature is always performing

Josh Vance

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