Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lots of Smoky Mountain - 4th of July Celebrations!

Come to the Smokies and enjoy lots of 4th of July celebrations from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge!

July 1st -August 8
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales tm – All summer long visitors can meet characters, hear mountain music and learn about life in the Smoky Mountains on the streets of Gatlinburg. Storytellers, musicians and cloggers perform at different locations along the Parkway every evening during this fourth annual event!

July 3rd- 4th of July Midnight Parade – Saluting our valiant military services, this 34th annual showcase is the "First July Fourth Parade in the Nation!" Parade starts at the stroke of midnight to begin July 4th. Floats, balloons, and marching bands pay tribute to our country.

July 4th - River Raft Regatta – Visitors can enjoy a fun, unmanned, floatable object race for the whole family. Free registration begins at 10 a.m. at Christus Gardens bridge in Gatlinburg. Race begins at noon and ends at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies bridge where prizes will be awarded in several different categories.

4th of July Fireworks Show – Join the celebration in downtown Gatlinburg to mark our nation's "Independence Day" with a magnificent fireworks show. The City of Gatlinburg lights up the mountain skyline downtown at 10:00 p.m. Sat July 4th with this grand display.

July 4th - The 19th Annual Patriot Festival - Patriot Park, Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge, TN –

Pigeon Forge’s 19th annual Patriot Festival celebrating the Fourth of July has an entertainment lineup designed to please the “Greatest Generation,” nostalgic Motown devotees, rock ‘n’ rollers and fans of country music. Fireworks booming over the adjacent Great Smoky Mountains will cap off a day of entertainment.

The cast of “Swing Time,” a Pigeon Forge show that highlights the Big Band music of the 1940s, will set a patriotic tone for the day with a tribute to America’s military and a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

More mellow music will come from the Temptations Revue, Pigeon Forge’s newest show, which celebrates the Motown Records success of an act that recorded more than 50 albums.

Three performance spots are reserved for country music. John Berry (“Your Love Amazes Me,” “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye” and dozens more) will fill Patriot Park with his rich voice, and festivalgoers will get to know two new artists—Sarah Darling, who just released her first album on Black River Music, and Knoxville native Homer Hart.

The pre-fireworks act is the Classic Rock All-Stars, a superstar group that includes Pete Rivera from Rare Earth, Dennis Noda from Cannibal and the Headhunters, Jerry Corbetta from Sugarloaf and Mike Pinera of Blues Image, Iron Butterfly and Alice Cooper.

Members of the Classic Rock All-Stars have been part of songs such as “I Just Want To Celebrate,” “Land of a Thousand Dances,” “Get Ready” and “Green-Eyed Lady.”

Other Patriot Festival entertainers include the Pigeon Forge Community Chorus (more than 40 members) and the Twirling Medallion Majorette and Drum Corps from Elkton, Va. This performing group is widely traveled and even has opened a show for Billy Ray Cyrus.

Entertainment begins at 1 p.m., and the fireworks will start about 9:45 p.m. WIVK-FM will broadcast the patriotic soundtrack to the fireworks show for observers throughout the city.

There is no admission charge for the Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival, a community celebration presented by the City of Pigeon Forge. Guests are invited to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets for festival seating.

The festival schedule is online at The toll-free phone number of Pigeon Forge information is 1-800-251-9100.

Contact: Tom Adkinson 615-341-3640

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The "Little Greenbriar School" Still Teaching in the Smoky Mountains

The "Little Greenbriar School" is Still Teaching in the Great Smoky Mountains !!

The small log structure built in 1882, housed the "Little Greenbriar School". Children from nearby families attended this school for more than 50 years..

Though formal classes ended in 1935, teaching and learning did not.... The school still serves local children and Smoky Mtn Park visitors....

The Little Greenbrier School is located in the Greenbrier area between Gatlinburg and Cades Cove of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Wears Valley area.

The building served as both a school and the Primitive Baptist Church until 1935.

Inside you will see the types of desks the students of that time used. The Greenbrier cemetery is in front of the school, which is another interesting stop to make during your time in the Smokies.

Go to the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area either by Lyon Springs Rd in Wears Valley or from the Park. Walk across the bridge to the Metcalf Bottoms Trail - 0.6 mile to the Little Greenbriar School. You can also continue 1.0 mile to the Walker Sister's Farmstead on the Little Brier Gap Trail - starting at the barricade up the hill from the school..

See more historical aspects of the park, hike the little Greenbrier Gap hiking trail(follow signs) that is 2.8 miles round trip. The trail begins near the school and leads you by the Walker sisters cabin. The trail runs from Wear Gap road to the Laurel Creek Falls Trail.

To reach the school by car, drive on up the road close to a mile and a half and you will see a sign saying Wears Cove straight on or Little Greenbriar School right.

Turn right........ This is a small, gravel, one lane road, but not one way! So pay close attention to oncoming traffic and any wide spots you may need to back up to in order to pass. When you reach the school, about a mile and a half, the road forks take the right fork down into the gravel parking area and enjoy a few minutes at the old school house.

Slow Down in the Smokies - Part 2 Townsend TN

Slow Down in the Smokies - Part 2

If you have not been to Townsend TN yet, you will definitely want to check it out -It's been labeled the "peaceful or quiet side of the Smokies"…

I love this sleepy little town !! Take Hwy 321/Wears Valley Rd away from Pigeon Forge. Travel down the mountain(about 6-7 miles from Wears Valley; 15 miles from PF), through several curves and as the road straightens out you will look over beautiful pasture land out to the mountain peaks beyond.

As you cross the bridge over the Little River to Townsend's only stoplight. You can rent tubes and float down the river in the hot summer or just try your hand at trout fishing(check with the local convenience stores in Townsend for fishing licenses).

At the stoplight in Townsend, if you turn left - you will be headed into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and then on to Cades Cove. Also to the left, you will pass Smokin’ Joes BBQ restaurant - it sits on the Little River with a screened in porch for dining in the summer… GREAT ribs, BBQ and chicken....... Yum- and don't even get me started on the desserts ! Wonderful blackberry cobbler or the very special - pecan cobbler.

Just past here is the new Smoky Mountain Heritage Center The Center highlights the history of Native Americans and mountain life from periods 3000 B.C. (Native American) to 1930 (settlers).
The center is 17,000 sq feet on a 3-acre site and includes an additional 10 historic structures on site. The museum features displays of native artifacts showcasing the history of the Native Americans and many examples of pioneer artifacts such as tools and materials used in daily lives.

At the light in Townsend, if you turn right - there is a really nice local convenience/grocery store - The Village Market on the right - less than a mile.. They don't have a huge selection but do have a deli and bakery.. See the Townsend Visitor Center across the street....

There's a great walking or bicycle trail(wide sidewalk) all the way through Townsend across the street from the river. It is mostly flat with a few slightly rolling hills, you can rent bikes around town...

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum is just past the Village Market in Townsend....... It tells the story of the area's logging history with hundreds of photographs, restored equipment and interpretive exhibits.

Railroad buffs enjoy seeing one-of-a-kind locomotives and logging machinery and visiting with volunteer staffers rich with the knowledge of the old railroad's operations. In the early 1900's, a busy railroad operated in the Smoky Mountains, bringing tourists to the area and taking thousands of trees out. See the website for more info Little River Railroad

See Slow Down in the Smokies - Part 1

Slow Down in the Smokies- Part 1 Wears Valley & Townsend Tennessee

I really hate to admit this but I suppose the "older" you get, the less patience you have for the crowds and traffic congestion of the larger tourist areas of the Smoky Mountains..

Granted, I do love the convenience of a Super Walmart in Sevierville, various shopping outlets, fun, entertainment and lots of restaurant choices in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area........... but I also love slipping away from all of that to relax in the Wears Valley community just outside of Pigeon Forge TN.

I have found that I truly appreciate a slower, less hectic pace - particularly during vacation and it's only about 10 miles from all the action!! That's why I wanted to enlighten some of you that have not ventured over to the "peaceful or slower" side of the Smokies into Wears Valley, Townsend or Cades Cove TN. You really need to make the trip and SLOW down just for a while!

“Wears Valley” really begins just a couple miles after turning at stoplight # 3 – Hwy 321/Wears Valley Rd off the main Parkway in Pigeon Forge. The heart of the community really begins about 7 miles out… You will begin to see cows grazing by the creek and beautiful meadows with a backdrop of Cove Mountain in all its splendor..... Yes, Wears Valley has become a hot spot for lots of new cabin rental developments but it still has that special country charm for now..

You can have a great country breakfast at Grandmothers Kitchen in Wears Valley, big fluffy biscuits and pork tenderloin. If you are an antique or “junktique” lover, stop by Wears Valley Antique & Craft Gallery about 7.8 miles out on the right or visit the website Wears Valley Gallery. There are other antique stops there also..

One of the great secrets in Wears Valley is the little known access into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. About 9 miles from Pigeon Forge, turn left onto Lyon Springs Road, follow this road into the GSMNP (a couple miles). You will cross the Little River bridge at the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area.

This is a beautiful shady picnic spot by the river. You can also take a short hike and step back in time to the "Little Greenbrier School" and the "Walker Sisters" home place.

Park at Metcalf Bottoms and walk across the bridge. Take the Metcalf Bottoms Trail 0.6 mile to the Little Greenbrier School. If you wish, you can continue 1.0 mile from the school to the Walker Sister's farmstead on the Little Brier Gap Trail. The Little Brier Gap Trail starts at the barricade uphill from the school.

Try this Route from Wears Valley to Gatlinburg – Scenic !
***If you come via Lyon Springs Rd to the stop at Metcalf Bottoms, you can turn left and follow the River Rd for a scenic drive to Gatlinburg through the National Park(right will take you to Cades Cove-scenic/longer**). This route will bring you out at the end of Gatlinburg(stoplight #10) at the Sugarland Visitor Center, hook a left to go into town about a 25 – 30 minute drive depending on traffic.

**A shorter drive to Cades Cove from our cabins or the heart of Wears Valley is to follow Hwy 321/Wears Valley Rd all the way to Townsend (about 6-7 miles), at the light in Townsend, turn left – follow signs to Cades Cove.

Traveling on Hwy 321/Wears Valley Rd about another mile past Lyon Springs Rd, you will pass Happy Hollow Rd on the right (which leads to Glimpse of Heaven and Inspiration Point cabins).

Just a short distance further, you should surely slow down for the Rocky Top Country Store on the left, if you are a chocolate lover...... Fresh homemade FUDGE takes top billing here !! They have every imaginable flavor. They also have gifts, local jams and jellies....... but who can resist that fudge …

Just a short distance past Rocky Top Store, you will find another historical treasure, Headrick Chapel Church –See the blog entry here about Headrick Chapel Church in Wears Valley.

Stay Tuned for Slow Down in the Smokies - Part 2