Archive for the ‘Spot News’ Category

Craig Campbell Sets Acoustic Performance at Stages West

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Nov. 19, 2013) – Country singer Craig Campbell, who reached a radio airplay audience of more than a billion listeners in 2012, has booked an acoustic show for a much smaller number of people in Pigeon Forge – 500 maximum.

Craig Campbell

Craig Campbell

Campbell – whose hits include “Family Man,” “Fish” and “When I Get It” – will play Saturday (Nov. 23) at 10 p.m. in a special venue inside the Stages West retail store for its Backstage at Stages West concert series.

Admission is free, and access is on a first-come, first-in basis.

Campbell came onto the country charts in 2011 with “Family Man,” a Top 15 hit that got additional exposure on HBO’s “True Blood” series.

Stages West, a family-owned western apparel store, added its performance venue to expand its shopper experience to include live entertainment.

Telethon To Raise Money for Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The only telethon in the U.S. for a national park is on the calendar for Aug. 19 (Thursday) to raise money for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It is the 19th Annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon, a project of Friends of the Smokies, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports America’s most visited national park.

The telethon will air from 7-8 p.m. on WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tenn., and WLOS-TV in Asheville, N.C. The park, which covers a half-million acres of Appalachian wilderness, is split between Tennessee and North Carolina.

Friends of the Smokies is devoting more than $1.1 million this year to support education, conservation, recreation and historic preservation in the park.

Current projects include continued rehabilitation of the Chimney Tops Trail by the Trails Forever crew, ongoing suppression of the hemlock woolly adelgid and funding for Parks as Classrooms environmental education programs for more than 18,000 students.

Individuals and businesses have three ways to support the telethon – by donating online at, by calling 877-884-6867 during the telethon or by calling the offices of Friends of the Smokies to request a donation form (865-932-4794 and 800-845-5665 in Tennessee and 828-452-0720 in North Carolina.)

Chimney Tops Trail Open for Weekends after Bridge Replaced

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK  (July 15, 2013) – A popular trail on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open for weekend hikers after replacement of a 70-foot-long bridge over a mountain stream.

Chimney Tops Trail itself is undergoing a full rehabilitation from a Trails Forever crew every Monday through Thursday and is open to hikers Friday through Sunday. Oct. 17 is the target for work completion.

The trail was closed in January after high waters destroyed the bridge over Walker Camp Prong at the beginning of the trail.

Working in an environmentally sensitive area, the bridge crew primarily used hand-operated tools and pulleys to position the bridge’s steel I-beams.

Information about all aspects of the park is at

Human ingenuity and labor, not heavy equipment, were key to new bridge on Chimney Tops Trail.

Human ingenuity and labor, not heavy equipment, were key to new bridge on Chimney Tops Trail.

Newfound Gap Road Reopens 30 Days Early

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (April 15, 2013) – Instead of marking April 15 as the deadline to file income tax returns, many people near America’s most visited national park celebrated the day because of the reopening of Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441).

Ready for traffic on April 15, 2013

Ready for traffic on April 15, 2013

The road – which links the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Tennessee with Cherokee, N.C., and is the only route that connects the two-state park – had been closed for three months. A landslide on Jan. 16 washed away approximately 200 feet of the road.

The reopening was 30 days ahead of schedule. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and the National Park Service had offered contractors an incentive of $18,000 a day (up to $504,000) for early completion.

It was not a simple task. The work involved stabilizing the slope above the work area and then rebuilding the roadway and filling the area washed away during the landslide with crushed stone.

A drainage system and pervious crushed stone material will protect the road and surrounding land from future damage due to both overflow and subsurface water flow.

For the most current road conditions in the park, call 865-436-1200 x 631 or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.

Not ready for traffic, February 2013

Not ready for traffic, February 2013

National Park Visitor Center Gets Facelift

Great Smoky Mountains waterfall (Photo: Tom Adkinson)

Great Smoky Mountains waterfall (Photo: Tom Adkinson)

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (April 2013) – At age 50, the Sugarlands Visitor Center at Great Smoky Mountains National Park has gotten a major facelift.

The Great Smoky Mountains Association and Friends of the Smokies, two private sector organizations, funded the project.

Approximately 850,000 visitors a year come through the visitor center, which is on the Tennessee side of the 800-square-mile park that is split between Tennessee and North Carolina.

The work included new flooring, paint, lighting and a new entrance into a natural history museum. Park crews did most of the work during evening hours, permitting the visitor center to remain open throughout the project.

One of the special touches is a masonry wall that mirrors the original architecture of the building and invites visitors into the redesigned visitor contact area.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S. (9,685,829 visitors in 2012). Park information is at

Where a Quilt Is for More than Warmth

Not all quilts at A Mountain Quiltfest look like the ones on Grandma's bed.

Not all quilts at A Mountain Quiltfest look like the ones on Grandma’s bed.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (March 2013) – Handmade quilts can be many things in one – a source of warmth, works of art, family heirlooms and more.

Quilts in all their glory are the focus of A Mountain Quiltfest in Pigeon Forge from March 12-16.

Quilters and crafters from across the U.S. gather to enjoy a quilt show and the opportunity to choose from dozens of classes and seminars.

Whether you are a quilter or not, the displays are worth the trip to this Great Smoky Mountains resort town. This is the 19th year of A Mountain Quiltfest.

There are free-admission quilt shows at the Music Road Convention Center and the Smoky Mountain Convention Center, plus a vendor area for a variety of quilt- and craft-related items. Other Quiltfest activities include brunch and dinner lectures, show-and-tell events and quilt appraisals.

Detailed information is available at

A Mountain Quiltfest is produced by the city of Pigeon Forge and co-hosted by the Piecemakers and Sevier ValleyQuilters Guilds.

For more information about all Pigeon Forge events, call 800 251-9100 or visit

‘Saddle Up’ Brings Cowboy Fun to Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (February 2013) – Cowboy singers, cowboy poets and chuck wagon cooks are on the trail to Pigeon Forge for the 13th annual Saddle Up, Feb. 21-24, 2013.

The four-day event, a tip of the hat to the American West, features concerts, a chuck wagon cookoff and other activities designed to entertain the entire family.

Saddle Up helps wrap up Pigeon Forge Winterfest, a four-month season of activities that began last November.

Cobbler is part of every lunch at Saddle Up's chuck wagon cookoff.

Cobbler is part of every lunch at Saddle Up’s chuck wagon cookoff.

Performers for Saddle Up include cowboy poets Waddie Mitchell and Chris Isaacs, along with musicians Brenn Hill, the Quebe Sisters Band, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up -N- Playboys, and Wylie & the Wild West.

There are theater concerts on Feb. 22 and 23 ($15) and two Intimate Evening dinner shows ($50) on Feb. 21. Wylie & the Wild West will perform after a four-course meal at the Partridge & Pear Restaurant, and the Quebe Sisters Band will entertain at Mama’s Farmhouse Restaurant following a family-style meal prepared by the Red River Ranch chuck wagon team from Texas.

Stories & Strings ($15) is a special show on Feb. 22 at Smoky Mountain Guitars by a select group of Saddle Up musicians who will talk about personal musical influences and share favorite tunes and stories. Stories & Strings won a Pinnacle award from the International Festivals & Events Association.

A chuck wagon cookoff, sponsored by Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association, is Feb. 23 at Clabough’s Campground. Chuck wagon cooks prepare lunch for guests and evaluation by a panel of judges. Lunch begins at noon, and tickets are $10.

Learning to lasso is one activity at the Buckeroo Roundup.

Learning to lasso is one activity at the Buckeroo Roundup.

Buckeroo Roundup starts at 9 a.m. at the same location, offering a variety of free musical entertainment and cowboy-themed activities for family fun.

A Cowboy Dance ($5) is Feb. 23 at Spirit of the Smokies Condo Lodge Ballroom. Cowboy Church, a non-denominational service at Stages West, is Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. It is preceded by a chuck wagon breakfast that begins at 8:30. Breakfast is $5; Cowboy Church is free.

Saddle Up details are online at

Artists Wield Chainsaws at Titanic Ice Event

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Jan. 18, 2013) – It’s likely that the fanciest ice sculptures you ever created were the fish-shaped ice cubes that came out of that plastic ice tray you bought at IKEA.

To see what real ice artistry looks like, check out the third annual Titanic Pigeon Forge Professional Ice Carving Competition on Jan. 19 (Saturday).

A chainsaw becomes an artist's tool at the Titanic Pigeon Forge Professional Ice Carving Competition.

A chainsaw becomes an artist’s tool at the Titanic Pigeon Forge Professional Ice Carving Competition.

The parking lot in front of the Titanic Museum Attraction become an outdoor art studio as professional and amateur ice sculptors work their magic on 250-pound blocks of ice.

Chainsaws start roaring at 9 a.m. to make the first cuts, and hand tools come into play at the day progresses.

Winners celebrate at 3 p.m., and prizes – from $500 to $2,000 – are the awards. The cost to watch the ice artists at work is just right – it’s free.

2012 Was Very, Very Good for Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park rose to 9,685,828 in 2012. That’s a 7.5 percent jump, making 2012 the biggest year since the 10.1 million visitors in 2000, which remains the record.

Park management credited mild weather last winter and spring as a big factor. Every month in 2012 had more visitors than the same month in 2011.

Clear, cool, tumbling water is a hallmark of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Clear, cool, tumbling water is a hallmark of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

December’s count was 480,527, up from 471,603. That was despite the closure of the Newfound Gap Road between the Sugarlands Visitors Center and Cherokee, N.C., for all or part of six days because of ice and snow. The Christmas and New Year’s holidays brought large numbers of visitors to the park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with 800 square miles of natural beauty, is the most visited national park in the United States.

The national park is the primary focus of Wilderness Wildlife Week, a project of the City of Pigeon Forge. It offers eight days of free programming and activities about the park and numerous other outdoor topics.

Wilderness Wildlife Week takes place at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center.

Head South for Holiday Lights, Travel Writers Say

Half of the 10 destinations the Society of American Travel Writers recommends for holiday lights are in the Southeast.

SATW members compiled a list of 10 destinations with light-up-the-night displays that might be lesser known than destinations such as Times Square in New York but still very much worth the trip.

The five destinations in the Southeast:
Winterfest lights TrainStation_067
* Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville in Tennessee for Smoky Mountain Winterfest
* Charlotte for Speedway Christmas at the Charlotte Motor Speedway
* St. Augustine
* Louisville for Lights Under Louisville in Louisville Mega Cavern (yes, holiday lights in a cave)
* Pine Mountain, Ga., for Callaway Gardens

The other five scatterered around the country:

* Festival of Lights in Kauai, Hawaii
* Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.
* The Newport Beach Boat Parade in California
* Nela Park in Cleveland
* Old Town Luminaria Tour in Albuquerque, N.M.

Here’s a link to the list and event descriptions: