Normal-Palooza hits North Chattanooga this Saturday

Authored By Maggie Behringer

For the 10th anniversary of Normal-Palooza, organizers at Normal Park Museum Magnet School are pulling out all the stops.

Think human foosball, live and interactive art demonstrations, CrossFit, cupcakes, the Tennessee Valley LEGO Club and “Schoolhouse Rock” originator Bob Dorough, all in a one-day block party. In fact, there is something for every particular Saturday craving.

This Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a chunk of West Mississippi Avenue in front of Normal Park Upper School and the school’s lawn will be inhabited by food trucks and artists’ stalls, while the parking lot and field behind the school will be home to stages, inflatable structures and obstacle courses.

For the jocks
Big or small, 5 years old or middle-aged, there is a physical activity or game on the schedule for you. The kids’ zone features low-key games, such as football and ring tosses and corn hole, as well as massive inflatable bounce houses.

The extreme sports zone is tailored more toward teenagers and adults, with intense workouts, obstacle courses designed by CrossFit Brigade and a bungee jump known as the “spider jump.” On an even larger scale, the festival is trying its hand at organized sports with the human foosball competition and a grownup kickball tourney.

For the artistically inclined
Whereas most of the festival’s art has been somewhat confined to the marketplace in the previous years, now in addition to having crafts and seasonal merchandise in a group of booths, art takes the spotlight with an art stage right next to the music stage.

Cessna Decosimo-a local and prodigious painter and sculptor-will be completing an interactive painting demonstration, while David Ruiz installs a wheat paste mural on one of the school building’s exterior walls. Woodworker Bud Ellis of Horsin Around and Kate Warren of Art 120 will also provide a peek at their artistic processes of carving carousel animals and decorating art cars.

“The whole point is to have the kids feel they can do it and be a part of the artistic process,” said Normal-Palooza organizer Catherine Martin. “Anything can be art, and that’s really to the heart of the school and the festival.”

For the concert junkies
Just as no festival is complete without live music, no block party is legitimate without the blessing of a marching band. Have no fear-the Normal Park marching band, dancers and chorus will be on hand to bestow the official block party status.

The music stage will also host Strung Like a Horse, Uncle Lightning, the New Binkley Brothers and the Matt Brown Band. The headliner is a jazz musician better known for his infectious and educational creation-“Schoolhouse Rock”-Bob Dorough.

For the foodies
The full menu of Chattanooga’s growing food truck movement will be paired with some of the classic carnival treats.

The offerings include Famous Nater’s, Southern Burger, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Good Dog, Monkey Town Donuts and Lupi’s Pizza, among others.

Normal-Palooza, which started in 2002, is an annual fundraising event built out to incorporate the school’s overarching mission of incorporating arts and community.

“All of the proceeds go to the PTA and the education fund, but it’s a way to reach out to the community around us and create a fun atmosphere,” Martin aid. 

To her point, the festival is often referred to not as a fundraiser, but rather as a “friendraiser.” The event is free and open to the public, though individual rides require tickets that can be purchased at the festival.