Archive for the ‘Press Releases’ Category

Pigeon Forge Wildfire Update

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (Nov. 29, 2016)—Firefighters continue to battle wildfires in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Approximately 500 people evacuated on Monday evening and took shelter in Pigeon Forge facilities. At this time, 75 people remain in the shelter. The Red Cross is assisting those who were displaced.

According to Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson, there are multiple active fires in Pigeon Forge that crews are working to contain.  Power outages continue in various areas of the city. At daybreak, emergency crews began a damage assessment of the area.

More than 100 firefighters from 15 additional stations throughout East Tennessee are battling the blazes.

Tennessee Emergency Management Association officials are currently on site in Pigeon Forge to support local officials.

The American Red Cross makes available the website for communication between those affected by disasters. Those wanting to locate a friend or loved one or anyone wanting to check-in as safe may visit this site for updates.

Donations are being accepted at the Pigeon Forge Fire Hall Station 1 at 3229 Rena Street in Pigeon Forge.


Pigeon Forge Winterfest Welcomes Guests with Five Million Lights, New Attractions; Annual celebration slated for Nov. 8-Feb. 28, 2016

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Oct. 5, 2016)—Draped in more than five million lights, Pigeon Forge creates a winter wonderland for guests to enjoy during the city’s annual Winterfest celebration (Nov. 8-Feb. 28).

Located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, the family friendly destination brings new meaning to sparkle, twinkle and glow as colorful light displays depicting popular characters and playful scenes illuminate the city’s six-lane Parkway from one end to the other.

“Whether folks are visiting Pigeon Forge for the first time or making a return trip, Winterfest is the perfect occasion to share those moments that become memories,” said Leon Downey, executive director of tourism for the city of Pigeon Forge. “It’s a special time of year, and we’re proud to offer folks something new to experience alongside the many traditions they’ve come to expect in Pigeon Forge.”

This year, several new attractions expand the scope of Winterfest, giving families more reasons to visit:

  • The Island in Pigeon Forge unveils $1.5 million in new Christmas experiences for guests. All-new decorations are showcased throughout the 23-acre property, including approximately 40,000 ornaments, half a million lights and more than 5,000 feet of garland. Guests are treated to three new Christmas trees, including one that stands 40 feet tall and allows guests to walk through. Santa and Mrs. Claus greet guests at their new workshop while roving carolers fill the air with Christmas music. Paula Deen presides over The Island’s annual tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 6 p.m. There is no admission fee to enjoy the Christmas décor.
  • Dollywood recently announced the $2.5 million addition of Dolly’s Parade of Many Colors, featuring new floats, specialty characters and songs. The park also adds a new show to its entertainment lineup with the stage production It’s a Wonderful Life. Both are part of Dollywood’s award-winning Smoky Mountain Christmas festival (Nov. 5-Jan. 1, 2017).
  • Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show puts a new spin on the holidays with an all-new Christmas show. This year, it is Christmas in Timber Ridge and the competition is on to see which lumber camp family is the best at growing and supplying the best Christmas trees in all the land. A cast of lumberjacks, “lumberjills” and “lumberjacrobats” bring this fast-paced, high-energy Christmas spectacular to life. A show-stopping Nativity scene, set to the sounds of Dolly’s own recording of The Little Drummer Boy, celebrates the true meaning of Christmas.

Other Winterfest highlights include:

  • The Titanic Attraction’s fourth annual Thanksgiving fireworks spectacular on Thursday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. Festivities also include a whimsical parade of costumed steampunk revelers. 
  • The Inn at Christmas Place welcomes Gerald Charles Dickens, great-great-grandson of literary master Charles Dickens, on Nov. 6-8. In his seventh year at the property, Dickens performs his one-man enactment of A Christmas Carol. New for 2016, Inn at Christmas Place offers afternoon tea featuring A Child’s Journey with Dickens on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 3 p.m.

Details about all aspects of Winterfest are available at



LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge, National Quartet Convention Ink Five-Year Contract Extension

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (September 26, 2016) – The LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge and the National Quartet Convention (NQC) have committed to a five-year contract extension that keeps the gospel music event in Pigeon Forge through 2021.

The LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge hosted NQC in 2014 and 2015. This year’s event is slated for Sept. 25-Oct. 1.

“Four years ago, the NQC and the city of Pigeon Forge announced plans for the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge to host the NQC for two years,” said Leon Downey, Pigeon Forge executive director of tourism. “Given NQC’s extremely successful track record and prior attendance, our city and our facility pledged to host this event in such a way that both the NQC and Pigeon Forge would be proud. This five-year commitment proves that, together, we’ve delivered on that promise.”

Combined attendance for NQC’s first two years at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge is 67,000. Of the city’s more than 14,000 rooms, NQC attendees have reserved an estimated 94,269 paid room nights in 2014 and 2015 for the seven-day event. In its first two years, NQC delivered total attendee spending of more than $32.5 million across a variety of categories including lodging, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, groceries and gasoline.

Pigeon Forge’s quantity and variety of accommodations, the family-friendly atmosphere and the setting at the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park were major reasons for the event to come to Pigeon Forge, according to Clarke Beasley, executive vice president of the National Quartet Convention.

“The NQC and Pigeon Forge share the same family values,” said Beasley, “We’re pleased to let our fans know that we’ve established our home for the next five years in a facility that shares our passion for presenting the best in gospel music. Next year, we’ll mark the NQC’s 60th anniversary at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge.”

Opened in October 2013, the 232,000-square-foot LeConte Event Center represents a $50 million investment on behalf of the city of Pigeon Forge. In its first three years of operation, the facility has hosted large assembly events, trade shows and expositions, competitive events and special events. Groups from 1,500 to 12,000 attend events in the 100,500-square-foot, clear-span (no columns) exhibit space with up to 17 separate breakout rooms.

JD Sumner, a gospel music legend and former backup singer for Elvis Presley, founded the NQC in 1957 and co-produced it with James Blackwood.

Lineup for the 2016 NQC event include the Hoppers, Greater Vision, Jim Brady Trio, Whisnants, Tribute Quartet, Jason Crabb, Triumphant, Kingdom Heirs, the Mark Trammell Quartet and many others.


Trish Mcgee



Veterans Services Commissioner Grinder To Serve as Grand Marshal in Pigeon Forge Parade

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Aug. 24, 2016)—Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder will serve as grand marshal of the annual Veterans Homecoming Parade in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 9 a.m. on the Parkway.

The Veterans Homecoming Parade, (which begins at traffic light 8 on the Parkway and travels north to traffic light 5 where it concludes) is the highlight of the city’s monthlong Celebrate Freedom! event in August which honors America’s heroes for their service and sacrifice. Service members, veterans, police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders are entitled to various discounts at participating businesses. More information is available at MyPigeonForgeCelebrateFreedom.

“Our service men and women, past and present, are certainly worthy of our appreciation and acknowledgment,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “The city of Pigeon Forge devotes the month of August to honoring these deserving folks, like Commissioner Grinder, who sacrifice so much for the many freedoms we enjoy.”

Grinder was appointed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in 2011.  Colonel Grinder is the first female in the state to serve as Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services.  The retired colonel served more than 35 years in the Tennessee Army National Guard before accepting her current appointment.

“Traveling the state to meet with, recognize and serve Tennessee’s veterans is an incredible honor,” Grinder said. “Listening to the stories of our fellow veterans continues to increase my gratitude for their sacrifices, courage and continued contribution to our state and country.  The Volunteer State was built and thrives on the spirit of these amazing men and women.”

Grinder earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College and a master’s degree in human resource development from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Grinder is a Bronze Star medal recipient and an Operation Enduring Freedom combat veteran.



Contact:         Trish McGee



Three Months of Ripken Experience: 363 Teams, 23 States, $6.7 Million

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 2016) – The first three months of youth baseball tournaments at the Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge have been everything the city expected – and perhaps more.

“Baseball lives on statistics, and the numbers coming out of the Ripken Experience are awesome. Visitor spending of $6.7 million in Pigeon Forge is simply wonderful,” said Eric Brackins, Pigeon Forge assistant city manager, who worked closely on development of the $22.5 million project.

Cal Ripken Jr., a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and chairman and founder of Ripken Baseball, cut the ribbon on the six-field complex on March 9. The first tournament was March 12-13. Ripken Baseball has a 10-year contract to manage the facility.

Cal Ripken Jr. with young player

Cal Ripken Jr. with young player

From mid-March through the third week of June, there have been 11 tournaments that drew 363 teams from 23 states. The Alaska Quakes from Anchorage traveled the greatest distance to play on the fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

“The 363 teams and their followers, almost 18,000 people, benefit Pigeon Forge in many ways. They stay in our hotels, they dine in our restaurants and they have fun at our attractions and theaters,” Brackins said, noting that tournament scheduling gives them plenty of recreational time.

The appeal of Pigeon Forge as a family vacation destination was a major reason the city built the complex and contracted with Ripken Baseball to operate it.

“We were confident Ripken Baseball could attract teams, and we were equally confident Pigeon Forge would appeal to the players’ families. We’re attracting new people to Pigeon Forge and the Smokies, and we know that new visitors are almost certain to return for future vacations,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

The Southeast, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic produced the greatest number of teams in the first three months. There were 144 teams from Tennessee, 43 from Georgia, 37 from North Carolina and 24 from Ohio.

In addition to Alaska, other distant states that produced teams included Wisconsin, Texas and Massachusetts.

A tournament with 44 teams from 16 states and Canada in the last days of June will push the team total to more than 400.

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge is on a ridge above Pigeon Forge. Each field borrows its design from well-known professional ballparks, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

The others are Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., the oldest park in the Appalachian League; Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., known as “Little Fenway”; Engle Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., a filming location for the “42” movie about Jackie Robinson; BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge will host tournaments nine months out of the year and offer year-round branded events in its 14,000-square-foot clubhouse.

Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at and toll-free at 800-251-9100.



Tom Adkinson




Pigeon Forge’s July 4 Patriot Festival To Feature Joe Diffie, Fireworks Spectacular

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 2016) – Grand Ole Opry member and Grammy Award winner Joe Diffie will rock Patriot Festival, Pigeon Forge’s annual blowout to celebrate July 4, immediately before a spectacular fireworks show brightens the sky over this Great Smoky Mountains resort city.

Activity begins at noon, and onstage entertainment begins at 1:30 p.m. for guests at Patriot Park.  Admission is free.

Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie

In addition to a variety of local entertainers, music will come from Emily Ann Roberts, who placed second on NBC’s “The Voice,” and Tribute, a celebration of the Allman Brothers Band.

Patriot Festival guests will recognize Diffie’s songs that will come from his 20 Top 10 hits and his 13 albums. Count on sing-alongs to “John Deere Green,” “ Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox” and “If the Devil Danced (in Empty Pockets).”

Food and family games are part of the day’s activities, and guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Free parking will be at Patriot Park and the city’s Teaster Lane parking lot. A free shuttle will run from the Teaster Lane lot.

Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m., and WIVK-FM in Knoxville will simulcast the fireworks show’s patriotic soundtrack.

Patriot Festival in Patriot Park, Pigeon Forge

Patriot Festival in Patriot Park, Pigeon Forge



Tom Adkinson, APR






Lucky Winners To Get Exclusive Concert from Maddie & Tae in Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 20, 2016) – The duo of Maddie & Tae is one of country music’s hot new acts, and the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism has booked the two highly declarative singers for a exclusive concert on July 31.

The audience will be limited to approximately 100 winners of the no-cost-to-enter Maddie & Tae Pigeon Forge Getaway sweepstakes that concludes May 31. To enter, visit

Maddie & Tae

Maddie & Tae

Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye brought their distinctive styles from Sugar Land, Texas, and Ada, Oklahoma, to Nashville in 2014 and scored immediate hits on their first album, “Start Here,” released in August 2015. The Academy of Country Music named them the 2015 Vocal Duo of the Year.

“Girl In A Country Song” got instant acknowledgement from NPR, Rolling Stone and David Letterman, and songs such as “Shut Up and Fish,” “Fly” and “Sierra” are securing new fans for Maddie & Tae.

“The music of Maddie & Tae is a treat, and the singers themselves are wonderful people. We wanted to present them to an appreciative and intimate audience, and we hope our contest winners become fans of Maddie & Tae and of Pigeon Forge,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

In addition to the concert, winners will meet Maddie & Tae and will receive a three-night Pigeon Forge vacation that includes admission to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country, admission to almost two dozen other Pigeon Forge attractions, and $500 for travel expenses.

Pigeon Forge, a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is one of America’s top family vacation destinations. Each year, more than 10 million people visit Pigeon Forge.

Information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge is available online at or by calling 800-251-9100.




Tom Adkinson, APR


Pigeon Forge’s New Rite of Spring: Wilderness Wildlife Week

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 2016) – Pigeon Forge, a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has a new way to celebrate spring. It’s a five-day event saluting the national park, Mother Nature and the culture of the southern Appalachians.

It is Wilderness Wildlife Week from May 18-22, and it’s new as a springtime event after 25 years as part of Pigeon Forge Winterfest.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America's most visited national park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park.

You can learn about bears and trout, hone your nature photography skills, join a celebration of gospel singing, discover your artistic side, and even meet President Franklin Roosevelt – all for free. There are more than 250 programs at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge plus 40 hikes, field trips and excursions into the national park and surrounding areas.

Event manager Butch Helton said 2016 is special because this is the centennial year of the National Park Service, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the system’s most visited park. More than 10 million guests visit the 800-square-mile park every year

“We’re going to do our part to help more people understand and be active in our treasured neighbor,” Helton said.

President Roosevelt appears courtesy of actor Gary Stamm. Stamm’s keynote program on May 18, “A Fireside Chat with FDR: Celebrating a Century of the National Park Service,” will recall Roosevelt’s dedication of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940.

An array of programs fills all five days. Among the topics:

  • 900 Miles and Then Some: A Hiking Journal
  • Logging Railroads of the Smokies
  • Waterfalls of the Southern Appalachians
  • Turn Your Photography into Art
  • Recording the Smokies: An Audio Journal
  • Leave No Trace: Principles of Outdoor Ethics
  • Fly Fishing the Smokies
  • Bears in the Back Seat
  • Painting the Smokies
  • Moonshine: The Past, Present and Future
  • A Miller’s Life (about the historic Old Mill in Pigeon Forge)
  • Birds of Prey Live Bird Show
  • The Art of Dowsing: Do You Have the Gift?
  • Gospel Music of the Smokies

Experts in numerous fields donate their time to deliver programs. Among them are current and retired National Park Service rangers, wildlife experts, artists, local historians and musicians.

In addition to FDR, evening programs include “Heaven and Nature Sing,” a presentation from Wilderness Wildlife Week creator Ken Jenkins; Dr. Bill Bass about the University of Tennessee’s famous “Body Farm”; and “Tales From Lost,” recollections from retired backcountry ranger Dwight McCarter about searches for people lost in the wilderness.

Hikes in the national park utilize numerous trails with various degrees of difficulty, and the excursions include a visit to the American Eagle Foundation’s research and rehabilitation facility at Dollywood.

On May 21, the first Appalachian Homecoming is planned at Patriot Park. This is a celebration of music, storytelling, children’s games and antique tractors. The Cades Cove Preservation Association will have a fundraising picnic, capped at 200 dinners, in conjunction with the event.

Wilderness Wildlife Week attracts people from throughout the U.S.  A voluntary sign-up sheet in 2015 identified visitors from 28 states. The most distant were from Alaska, California, New York and Wyoming.

Information about all aspects of visiting Pigeon Forge is online at and by calling 800-251-9100.



Tom Adkinson, APR



Dolly’s Homecoming Parade To Be Streamed Live on Facebook – Direct from Dolly’s Float

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (April 27, 2016) – Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, Pigeon Forge’s annual salute to hometown superstar Dolly Parton, regularly attracts tens of thousands of spectators, but this year’s potential audience could be exponentially larger because it will be one of the first live stream feeds presented on Facebook.

Facebook launched live video streaming earlier this month, and this event will feature one of the world’s most recognized personalities.

Dolly Parade flagsDolly will lead the parade atop a float themed for her new theater in Pigeon Forge, Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show, and the live stream will chronicle the entire event.

The parade steps off at 6 p.m. on May 6 (Friday) on a route that covers three miles of the famous Parkway through the heart of Pigeon Forge. The live stream will be from  Dolly’s float and will show Dolly, the crowds along the Parkway, and views of the city and the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains.

This will be the 31st presentation of Dolly’s Homecoming Parade and the first time it will be streamed live on the Internet.

The stream will be on the Facebook page of Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show. Streaming information is at and

Every year, the parade adds a Norman Rockwell atmosphere to Pigeon Forge, a gateway city to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It features high school marching bands, equestrian units, veterans’ groups, twirlers, antique tractors and much more. There are 125 groups in the 2016 parade

This year’s high school bands are from Sevier County High School (Dolly was a member in her high school days), Pigeon Forge High School, Fyffe High School from Fyffe, Alabama, and Cheatham County Central High School from Ashland City, Tennessee.

Complete Pigeon Forge visitor information is available online at and by calling 800-251-9100.



Tom Adkinson, APR



Book Signing With Authentic Hatfield at Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud

Hatfiled Book Signing


CONTACT:  Deborah Fee Newsom, (865) 414-6887 or

(865) 774-8877;

Book Signing With Authentic Hatfield at “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud”

Pigeon Forge, Tenn., April 21, 2016 — Have you ever wanted to eat with the Hatfield’s of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud? Now is your chance. Jack Hatfield will be visiting Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on Tuesday, April 26 and Wednesday, April 27 from 4:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud Theater to sign his Hatfield Clan Cookbook, “Eat’n with the Hatfield’s.”  Books will be on sale at The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud and the public is invited.

Jack Hatfield has put together treasured family recipes used from the Hatfield clan. Inside this cookbook is a collection of recipes passed down through generations of direct descendants of The Hatfield Family (of the famous Hatfield & McCoy family feud) and friends. These recipes are a mixture of old and new recipes, some with a modern twist.  There is also a collection of photos, facts, and stories about the family history throughout the cookbook.

Author, Jack Hatfield, Jr., received his inspiration for the cookbook while helping clean out his  “Mawmaw’s” house a few years ago. During his spring-cleaning he found a drawer full of recipes, which she had collected, from family and friends over the years.  In an effort to preserve the family history, he decided to share his family’s recipes and preserve the family history by publishing a cookbook.  Hatfield said, “Our recipes are mouth waterin’, finger lickin’, knee slappin,’ home cookin,’ GOOD!”

Show tickets are available for The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud by visiting or calling (865) 908-7469 (SHOW).  The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theater is located at 119 Music Road between traffic lights 0 and 1 on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge between WonderWorks and the Titanic.

The “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™” is a hilarious hit production inspired by real-life events that will put an ‘All You Can Eat’ four-course mountain feast in people’s bellies and a smile on their faces as they watch a lively talent competition between Pa Hatfield and Ma McCoy and their clans where the battlefield is the stage. This two-hour live show offers loads of laughs including a rowdy battle at a barn dance, extraordinary country, bluegrass, and gospel vocal and instrumental musical performances, and award winning hillbilly musicians, cloggers, and fun barnyard animals.  The feud is kicked-off most every day at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. nightly with occasional 2 p.m. matinees, and guests of all ages in the audience are encouraged to support their own side of Hatfield or McCoy “kinfolks.”

This feudin’ show comes with a Granny’s ‘All You Can Eat’ mountain feast, served by a hillbilly waiter or waitress.  Granny’s menu includes: Feudin’ Fried Chicken, Open Pit Pulled-to-Pieces Pork Barbecue, Southern Style Creamy Soup, Smashed Mashed Taters, Buttery Corn on the Cob, Ma’s Hot Homemade Bread, Daisy’s Blue Ribbon Coleslaw and Granny’s Famous Specialty Desserts. A vegetarian option is also available upon request.

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, one of the largest show production companies in the southeast, also owns and produces other major shows in the Smoky Mountains including “The Comedy Barn®”, “The Smoky Mountain Opry™,” and “Magic Beyond Belief™” starring Darren Romeo. The Company also owns Happy Days Diner and, a vacation package website company.

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group is currently running a combo deal for a show ticket to “The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™” for $54.95 plus tax and for only $19.95 plus tax add on to purchase a ticket to “The Smoky Mountain Opry™,” “The Comedy Barn®”, or “Magic Beyond Belief™ starring Darren Romeo.” With the purchase of a combo deal adult show ticket children 11 and under are free for the second show. The child’s rate for “The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™” is $19.95 plus tax.  Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more.  For more information about the show, visit or call (865) 908-7469 (SHOW). +++