Posts Tagged ‘chuckwagon cookoff’

Pigeon Forge Presents Four Months of Festivals, Special Events

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (February 2016) – Pigeon Forge lives up to its nickname of the “Center of Fun in the Smokies” with winter and spring special events that include cowboys, American folk art, a parade with an international celebrity and a celebration of America’s most visited national park. Here’s the lineup of city-sponsored events from February through May.

Saddle Up

Saddle Up is a celebration of the American West featuring western music, cowboy poetry and a highly competitive chuck wagon cookoff. Dates are Feb. 17-21. It is the 16th year Pigeon Forge has brought cowboy culture to the Smokies.

R.W. Hampton at Saddle Up

R.W. Hampton at Saddle Up

Poets and performers such as Dave Stamey, R.W. Hampton, Yvonne Hollenbeck and Chris Isaacs will star in full concerts, small performances and “intimate evening” dinners that include steaks to make any cowboy or cowgirl happy. Events are at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge and other venues.

The chuck wagon cookoff is Feb. 20, and it features nine cook teams from five states. It’s dutch oven cooking at its best, and Saddle Up guests can buy lunch from the team of their choice. Before lunch, a family-oriented Buckaroo Roundup will teach youngsters how to throw a lasso and maybe how to yodel.

A Mountain Quiltfest

More than 550 artfully designed and carefully stitched quilts will chase more than $20,000 in prize money at A Mountain Quiltfest, an event featuring classes, demonstrations and special activities that has drawn quilters and fans of fabric art to Pigeon Forge for 22 years. Dates are March 15-19 at the LeConte Event Center.DSCN2150

Twenty quilt categories will be displayed, including ones with this year’s special theme – log cabins. A Mountain Quiltfest includes more than 70 classes and lectures about America’s popular folk art taught by world-class instructors. There is a fee for classes, but admission to quilt displays and a vendor mall is free.

In addition to the classes, many people visit A Mountain Quiltfest to get appraisals of quilts that are family heirlooms.

Dolly’s Homecoming Parade

For 31 years, Pigeon Forge has saluted the area’s most popular singer, songwriter, movie star and philanthropist – Dolly Parton – with Dolly’s Homecoming Parade. This year’s date is May 6.Dolly Parade_low res[1]

Pigeon Forge shuts down half of the Parkway, the main thoroughfare through town, for a small-town parade that would make Norman Rockwell proud. Parton herself leads the parade in a float whose theme is kept secret every year until parade day.

Tens of thousands of Parton’s fans line the Parkway, and she uses a sound system on the float to call out to special friends she spots. The rest of the parade features high school bands, twirlers, equestrian groups, fire trucks, go-carts, clowns and more.

Wilderness Wildlife Week

Wilderness Wildlife Week is Pigeon Forge’s annual salute to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and an array of nature topics. It offers five days of free photography workshops, seminars, art classes, children’s activities, hikes and excursions. Dates are May 18-22.WWW Possum_rr

The major focus is on Pigeon Forge’s next-door neighbor, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited of all American national parks. The 26th presentation of Wilderness Wildlife Week takes on special significance because 2016 is the centennial year of the National Park Service.

Program presenters include professional photographers, botanists, biologists, hiking experts, talented artists and mountain musicians. All donate their time to spread the word about enjoying the beauties of nature on display in the national park and throughout the Southern Appalachians.

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



Tom Adkinson, APR



‘Saddle Up’ Draws Cowboy Fans from 22 States to Pigeon Forge

Salute to cowboy music, poetry, cooking notches 14th year

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (March 2013) – Visitors from at least 22 states attended Saddle Up, a cowboy culture special event that Pigeon Forge organizes as its last major component of Pigeon Forge Winterfest.

Red Steagall at Saddle Up 2014

Red Steagall at Saddle Up 2014

The five-day celebration in late February featured concerts by top cowboy and cowgirl musicians and poets, a chuck wagon cookoff and other western-themed activities. The event, now 14 years old, has been named a Top 20 Event in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.

“Saddle Up had two major accomplishments – it entertained people royally, and it attracted visitors from a wide area, including from states not usually in our visitor data, especially in winter,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

Visitors came from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Idaho and Massachusetts, Downey reported, in addition to Pigeon Forge’s usual market area of states in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

“I spoke to one gentleman at the chuck wagon cookoff who had made the trip from Raleigh just because he’d seen a TV feature about chuck wagon cooking and searched for the closest one to him,” Downey said.

Most Saddle Up events in 2014 were in the new LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge, and event organizers were pleased with the venue.

“We had two small-scale dinner shows that we called ‘Intimate Evenings’ and multiple large-scale concerts. All worked well, and our guests and performers were pleased,” said Butch Helton, special events manager for the tourism department.

Performers this year were Don Edwards, Red Steagall and the Boys in the Bunkhouse, Hot Club of Cowtown, Belinda Gail, Andy Nelson, Ray Doyle, T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up -N- Playboys, and Joyce Woodson.

Helton said discussions already are underway for the 2015 lineup.

Pigeon Forge’s next city-sponsored special event is Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, a salute to Dolly Parton, on May 2.



Tom Adkinson, APR


Cowboy Cooks Prepare for Feb. 25 Chuckwagon Cookoff

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (February 2012) – With names such as Grumpy’s Grub and Skillet and Spurs, six teams of competitive cowboy cooks will showcase their campfire skills on Feb. 25 during Saddle Up, an annual salute to the Old West in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Saddle Up, Feb. 23-26, is a four-day celebration that also features a series of Western music and cowboy poetry concerts, a Saturday night dance and Sunday Cowboy Church.

The others competing with Grumpy’s Grub and Skillet and Spurs are Ramblin’ Rose, Fairplay Cattle Company, Double X Ranch and Greenhorn Cattle Company.

The day’s fun begins at 9 a.m. when the free-admission Buckaroo Roundup starts. The Buckaroo Roundup includes a mechanical bull, lasso lessons and branding demonstrations, plus cowboy songs and storytelling.

The Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association sponsors the entire event at Clabough’s Campground on Wears Valley Road.

Each chuckwagon team will prepare chicken-fried steaks, potatoes, beans, bread, cornbread and fruit cobblers. They are judged on individual food categories and on the authenticity of wagons and camp set-ups. Lunch will be available for $10 and served from individual wagons. Tickets are available online at and also will be sold onsite the day of the cookoff.

The 12th Annual Saddle Up begins Thursday, Feb. 23.  Entertainers include R.W. Hampton, Stephanie Davis & the Roadrunners, Cowboy Celtic, Saddle Cats, Andy Nelson, Chuck Pyle, Ray Doyle and Kent Rollins.

Saddle Up ticket information and a schedule of activities are at Information about all aspects of visiting Pigeon Forge is at or 1-800-251-9100.