Archive for the ‘Vacations’ Category

Army Family Deploys to Pigeon Forge Before Afghanistan

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (July 2012) – An Army family facing a sixth deployment to a war zone got some special time together in Pigeon Forge, and their experience was captured as a half-hour show for the Great American Country (GAC) cable TV network.

“Operation Pigeon Forge: A Family Story” focuses on Staff Sgt. Gerald Britt, his wife Shasta and their children Gabe and Madison. It premiers July 12 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern and has 11 more airings later in the month.

Gerald has orders to Afghanistan this fall. He has been to Iraq three times, as well as to Kosovo and Bosnia. Shasta, a veteran herself, is a civilian employee of the Family Readiness Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, assisting other military families with members overseas.

“Before this soldier deploys to Afghanistan, GAC deploys his family to Pigeon Forge,” said show host Nan Kelley, explaining the concept of the program.

The Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism partnered with GAC, which is available in 62 million households and online at, to salute the Britts.

GAC cameras tagged along with the Britts at Pigeon Forge attractions such as Dollywood, the Titanic Museum Attraction, Dixie Stampede, The Track and the Country Tonite show. The Lumberjack Feud dinner show plucked Gerald from the audience for an ax-throwing challenge. His marksmanship was solid.

The Britts’ vacation coincided with the annual Dolly Parton Homecoming Parade, and Pigeon Forge surprised them by building a float for them to ride on and receive the applause of thousands lining the parade route.

An even bigger surprise came when Dolly Parton greeted them before the parade and offered her personal thanks for their service.

“Families are hugely important to Pigeon Forge, and we are pleased that Pigeon Forge is hugely important to many families. We make memories that strengthen family bonds,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

Information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge is available online at or by calling toll-free 1-800-251-9100.


Join a Ranger for Hikes in the Smokies

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (July 2012) – The National Park Service is offering ranger-led, family-friendly hikes every Wednesday through Aug. 11.

The hikes encourage families to hike the park’s trails (there are 800 miles of trails in all), learn new skills, assist in trail stewardship and record their results.

The Little River Family Adventure Hike starts in the Elkmont area of the park. It covers five miles and takes about three hours. It is ranked “moderate” in difficulty and is on an unpaved gravel and dirt trail.

Participants should wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and bring plenty of water and a lunch. For more information, visit the “Hike the Smokies” website:

In addition to the weekly Wednesday hikes at Elkmont, there is a July 12 family hike at Schoolhouse Gap and a July 19 hike to Porters Flat.

The hikes are a part of a National Park Foundation grant funded through the Coca-Cola Foundation that expands the current “Hike the Smokies” and “Adopt a Trail” programs.

Dolly Becomes ‘Splash Woman’ for Coaster Announcement

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 2012) – Dollywood launched America’s first wing-design roller coaster, Wild Eagle, in March and now has announced another coaster addition. This one adds water.

It is RiverRush, Tennessee’s first water coaster, which will open in May 2013 at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

“You know me. I love making a big splash, and RiverRush is all that and a whole lot more!” Parton said, dressed as super hero “Splash Woman” at the coaster’s announcement.

RiverRush will be a hydromagnetic coaster with climbs, drops, twists and tight turns – just like a traditional land roller coaster – but you’ll need a swimming suit to ride it.

Four-passenger toboggan-style boats will zoom through a 1,175-foot-long track after making an initial climb of 237 feet. The first drop is at a 45-degree angle. It will be four stories tall and have a footprint of more than an acre.

Meeting Movie, TV Stars at Hollywood Wax Museum

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 2012)  – Pigeon Forge’s newest attraction lets you get closer to some of your favorite movie and television stars than you ever imagined.

The stars at the Hollywood Wax Museum might not give you an autograph, but you can get amazing photos with many of them as you meander though the two-story, 22,000-square-foot attraction.

The museum is on the Parkway at Showplace Boulevard and is impossible to miss. Its major architectural features include the Hollywood sign and the New York City skyline, a tribute to the movie-making capitals of the U.S.

Its crown gem is the Great Ape of Pigeon Forge with its VIP Observation Deck that allows guests to enjoy spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Additionally, the venue includes a 32-foot Hollywood version of Mt. Rushmore.

A team of artists took three months to complete each celebrity wax figure, from sculpting the head out of clay to costuming.  This link offers details of the process. You’ll find everyone from Clint Eastwood and John Wayne to Marilyn Monroe, George Clooney and Bradley Cooper. There are more than a hundred to inspect.

The museum is a family-owned company now in its third generation. The family opened the original Hollywood Wax Museum in California in 1965 and also has a location in Branson, Mo. The Pigeon Forge museum is the largest of the three.

Two other attractions complement Pigeon Forge’s Hollywood Wax Museum – Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors and Castle of Chaos. A “Pick 3” tickets covers all attractions at a discounted rate. Details are at this link.

‘Happy Days’ Star To Appear at Happy Days Diner

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 13, 2012) – A star from TV’s “Happy Days” will be at the Happy Days Diner in Pigeon Forge on Thursday (June 14) to meet fans, sign autographs and fix a little food.

Cathy Silvers, who played Jenny Piccolo in the long-running sit-com will be at the diner from 5-6 p.m. for an autograph/photograph session. She says playing Jenny was the most fun she ever had in her life.

Silvers, 51, is a professionally trained health food chef and will prepare a “Jenny Piccolo” Healthy Living shake and a “Jenny Piccolo” Saladmaster Salad for guests at the Happy Days Diner. This will be her first visit to the diner.

Silvers is the author of “Happy Days Healthy Living” that depicts her Hollywood childhood and acting career.

She also hosts “The Healthy Living Show” on the web-based Healthy Living Network. She is the daughter of television and movie comedy star Phil Silvers and will enjoy some comedy while in Pigeon Forge at The Comedy Barn Show.

The diner’s menu includes Fonzarreli’s Chicken Parmesan, Chachi’s Grilled Cheese, the Cunningham Club and Mrs. C’s Fried Chicken Salad.

Barbeque and Bluegrass at Dollywood

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 26, 2012) — Barbeque and bluegrass music are two of the South’s biggest traditions, and they unite at Dollywood from May 26-June 10 during the Dollywood Barbeque and Bluegrass Festival.

Three hundred free concerts are spread throughout the festival. Performers include Ricky Skaggs, Kentucky Thunder and Rhonda Vincent. There’s even a dose of western music, too, from Riders in the Sky, who have two shows each day on June 9 and 10.

The park’s Market Square area becomes Barbeque Headquarters, offering guests their choice of Tennessee pulled park, ribs and chicken. The Backstage Restaurant has a new barbeque menu, and if you gather up family and friends, you can challenge a three-pound slice of apple pie cut from a pie that  weighs 25 pounds to start.

All park details are at

‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Inspires Murder Mystery Production

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (April 2012) – Murder always is on the menu at the Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show, but a new show has an unexpected twist — “Moonshine Murders” has a “Dukes of Hazzard” twist.

As always at the eight-year-old theater, “Moonshine Murders” is an interactive event in which the audience solves the crime.

“Moonshine Murders” tells the story of the fictitious Luke family that has been running moonshine in the Sevier County hills for years.

The unscrupulous Boss Boar and his henchwoman, local law officer Roscette P. Ketrain, have pursued the Lukes for years to no avail – but now that Sevier County has become a prime tourist destination, the increased traffic is making it harder for the Lukes to outrun the incompetent lawwoman.

It is for this reason that Uncle Bessie has decided to sell his highly sought-after Top Secret Shine Recipe to the local distillery at the Bi-Weekly Boss Boar Celebrity Speed Trap Concert featuring “Elvis”.

The only problem is that Uncle Bessie hasn’t discussed the sale of the family business with the rest of the family. The evening of the concert has the whole county vying for the Top Secret Moonshine Recipe and is full of murder, mayhem and, of course, moonshine.

“Moonshine Murders” is performed in rotation with two of the theater’s other show favorites, “Frankly Scarlett …You’re Dead” and “Who Dunnit Lucy”.

More information about the Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show is available by calling 865-908-1050 or (toll free) 866-908-1050.

John Anderson, Lovin’ Spoonful Headline Patriot Festival

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (April 2012) – Country star John Anderson will have the crowd “Swingin’,” and the Lovin’ Spoonful will have everyone rocking to “Summer in the City” when Pigeon Forge presents its July 4 Patriot Festival blast. Admission is free.

Patriot Festival draws tens of thousands of Independence Day celebrants to Patriot Park in the heart of Pigeon Forge.

The towering ridges of Great Smoky Mountains National Park provide the visual backdrop for an afternoon and evening of music, which are capped by one of Tennessee’s major Fourth of July fireworks shows.

Anderson, who literally helped build Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House prior to his singing career, has had No. 1 hits with “Swingin’,” “Wild and Blue,” “Straight Tequila Night’ and “Money in the Bank.” Hits such as “Seminole Wind” and “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday” get instant recognition.

The Lovin’ Spoonful are part of the musical fabric of the 1960s and are 2000 inductees into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Festival guests can count on “Do You Believe in Magic,” “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice” and “Nashville Cats” as well as “Summer in the City.”

Patriot Festival begins at noon when a multi-faceted kids’ play area opens. Music begins about 1:30 p.m. A 20-minute fireworks show, one of Tennessee’s largest for the Fourth of July, will blast off at about 9:30 p.m.

Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and sunscreen. A variety of food vendors will be on hand. Proceeds from their sales will go to local non-profit organizations.

Information about all aspects of visiting Pigeon Forge is available online at or by calling toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.

‘I Can See Clearly Now’

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (March 2012) – Visitors to America’s most visited national park will see something quite unusual for the next few months – crews at work opening scenic vistas that have grown up dramatically over the decades since the park was created.

After more than 75 years of forest growth, maturing trees are obscuring some of the park’s most scenic views, and enjoying the Smoky Mountains’ vistas is the No. 1 activity that visitors list.

The National Park Service is rolling back the natural clock by judiciously cutting some trees and trimming or thinning others.

They will work on 34 overlooks from April 1-Aug. 1 along Newfound Gap Road, Clingmans Dome Road, the East and West Foothills Parkway, the Gatlinburg Bypass, Rich Mountain Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Lakeview Drive and Cataloochee Road. No road closures are expected.

The goal of the vista management program is to allow the views to be maintained on a seven-year cycle.

‘Cowgirl Caravan’ Targets Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (February 2012) – Fifty adventure-loving cowgirls and their caravan of 30 Western-decorated travel trailers, some more than a half-century old, will add a special flair to Saddle Up, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.’s, Feb. 23-26 tribute to the Old West.

The cowgirls are members of Sisters on the Fly, a national organization of women who enjoy outdoor activities. The Saddle Up caravan members are from at least 13 states, stretching from Florida and Mississippi to Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

They will set up camp at Clabough’s Campground and will be an extra component of a chuckwagon cookoff and Buckaroo Roundup on Feb. 25 (Saturday).

Their 12- to 24-foot-long travel trailers, which owners describe as decorated in “a Western kitschy style,” will be open for inspection that day.

The Stages West western wear store, a major supporter of Saddle Up, invited the group to Pigeon Forge.

“The Sisters on the Fly and Saddle Up go together like rodeos and wranglers,” said Marlene Houser of Stages West. “The Sisters will have a great time, and they’ll add to the overall Western atmosphere of Saddle Up.”

Sisters on the Fly was created by two real-life sisters, Becky Clarke and Maurrie Sussman, in 1999 while on a Montana fly-fishing trip. Their love of the outdoors has led to a 1,700-member group ranging in age from 20-somethings to women almost 90.

Saddle Up offers a variety of concerts with entertainers such as R.W. Hampton, Stephanie Davis & the Roadrunners, Cowboy Celtic, Saddle Cats, Andy Nelson, Chuck Pyle, Ray Doyle and Kent Rollins. There is a Cowboy Dance on Feb. 25, and a non-denominational Cowboy Church service follows a chuckwagon breakfast on Feb. 26.

Saddle Up ticket information and a schedule of activities are at