Dolly Parton Donates 100 Million Childrens Books

Dolly Parton Donates 100 Million Childrens Books! Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library’s 100-millionth book placed in Library of Congress.

Dolly Parton shares the gift of literacy

Dolly shares the joy of reading with young people. Photo credit:

Not even Dolly Parton herself could have imagined in 1995 that her idea of giving free books to children around the world would one day surpass the 100-milionth mark and make its way into the halls of the Library of Congress. Parton was on hand on March 8th to enshrine the milestone book, her own “Coat of Many Colors”, adapted from her song of the same name, into the nation’s archive.
Indeed it seems as if Parton’s coat of many colors transformed into a magic flying carpet that, through the pages of books sponsored by her imagination library, transports children into a magical world of literature. Sevier County’s, and indeed Tennessee’s, favorite daughter’s example of overcoming a humble childhood and her amazing rise to an incredible career encourages children to look beyond superficial appearances and into the heart and character of others.
Parton is an accomplished songwriter and it could be that her love of stories and books paved the way to her stellar career.

I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories,” Parton said, adding that she was honored that “our little program has grown to such a point that we can partner with the Library of Congress to bring even more stories to children across the country.”

And partner she has. A special Story Time is scheduled at 10:30a.m. on the last Friday of each month from March to August in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Children up to the age of 5 can enjoy a book reading, music and special guests. Live streaming will make the event accessible to children and parents around the globe.
The Imagination Library distributes 1 million books free of charge each month to children from birth to age five in participating communities in the United States, Belize, United Kingdom Canada and Australia. Recent studies suggest participation in the Imagination Library is significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden offered praise for Parton and deemed the program “awe-inspiring, and an extraordinary gift to humankind”, adding, “there is no way to truly quantify the impact this program has had on developing young readers across America and in other parts of the world.”
Hayden said reading is a passion that the Library of Congress in pleased to share with Parton and expressed her excitement about the cooperative programs that will provide and an opportunity “for children anywhere to connect with a fun, engaging reading experience.”



Dolly Parton donates 100th million book to children

Dolly donates 100 million books and earns a place in the Library of Congress. Photo credit:

Story times take place at 10:30 a.m. on the last Friday of each month, March through August in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. The events are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

For more information on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, exclusively published by Penguin Random House, visit dollywoodfoundation2018.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States as well as extensive material from around the word. It is accessible both on site and online and is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and home to the U.S. Copyright Office. For more info visit or access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Increases Frontcountry Camping Fees

Cosby in Great Smoky Mountains - HeySmokies

Sunset at the Cosby campground entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Increases Frontcountry Camping Fees.  The increase for frontcounty campgrounds and picnic pavilions became effective March 1, 2018. Over the past year, officials reviewed public comments, operating costs, and projected budget levels to determine the rate of the increase from a range of 10% to 25%.

Park officials report the rate increase is necessary to meet the rising operational costs, reduce a growing backlog of maintenance on park facilities, and begin much needed improvements. Park officials are also working to improve the efficiency of campground management by adding three campgrounds to the national reservation system through

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash

Park visitors have long enjoyed camping and picnicking across the park in spectacular settings that offer space for relaxation and renewal,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Maintaining and servicing these facilities in the mountains presents a unique set of challenges and, with increasing costs, these fee increases are necessary to ensure the continual care and operation of these special places.

The park operates nine open campgrounds, seven group campgrounds, six picnic pavilions, and five horse campgrounds. The current fees have not been increased since 2006 or earlier at any facility aside from Cataloochee Campground which had an increase in camping fees in 2011 when it was added to the reservation system. The park is also adding Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain and Big Creek campgrounds to the National Recreation Reservation System to improve operational efficiency. Beginning in early March of 2018, all sites will require advanced reservation and payment prior to arrival in the park through either online or by phone. By placing these three geographically remote campgrounds on the reservation system, the park can reduce campground operation costs by eliminating the need for staff time for the collection of fees. The reservation system also provides a more efficient process for visitors to secure an overnight stay without traveling to the remote locations to check for vacancies.

By law, the park retains 100 percent of the camping and pavilion fees. The fees are used primarily to operate these facilities. This includes maintaining buildings, grounds, and utilities, providing visitor services, and funding rehabilitation projects, such as road resurfacing and replacing picnic tables and grills. Some revenues are also used to maintain park infrastructure and other special projects beyond these sites. Over the years, the park has had to compensate for rising costs from inflation by reducing visitor services, delaying maintenance repairs and improvements, and, at many sites, shortening the length of the season when facilities are open, having a particularly adverse impact on visitors during the shoulder seasons.

The park completed a 2016 comparability study with campgrounds in the surrounding communities and the study revealed that, while camping fees in the park have remained mostly constant since 2006, campgrounds in the surrounding communities have continued to rise. Even with the fee increase, park campgrounds will remain among the least expensive in the area.

For more information about campground facilities in the park, please visit the park website at

Great Smoky Mountains Clingmans Dome Volunteer Opportunity

clingmans dome great smoky mountains heysmokies

This is a great way to spend some time in the Smokies!

Great Smoky Mountains Clingmans Dome Volunteer Opportunity. This is a once in a lifetime chance to spend an entire season enjoying the sweeping vistas and high elevation forest of the Smokies. National Park officials are recruiting volunteers to help provide visitor information at Clingmans Dome. The information center sits at 6,300 feet in elevation providing a unique opportunity for park volunteers to assist in educating visitors about high-elevation spruce-fir forests, while also providing recreational, trip planning, and directional information.

The information center, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, originally served as a comfort station, but was converted into a seasonal information center in 2010. The center also includes a bookstore area managed by the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA). offering visitors the opportunity to purchase topographic maps, hiking guide books, hiking gear, and more. Volunteers will work alongside GSMA employees. Each volunteer is asked to work one four-hour shift per week from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. April 1, 2018 through November 30, 2018.

At this time, there are openings for new volunteers on each day of the week except Thursday. New volunteers must attend two orientation sessions focusing on resource interpretation and working with the public. At each training, guest speakers will share unique biological and historical information to help volunteers learn more about the Clingmans Dome area.

The first training session will be held at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center training room near Cherokee, NC on March 16 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00

clingmans dome heysmokies

Sunset and sunrise are amazing sites from Clingmans Dome observation tower!

p.m. The second training session will be held at the Sugarlands Visitor Center training room near Gatlinburg, TN on Friday, March 30 from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Volunteers must RVSP for training sessions and bring a lunch.

To sign up for this volunteer program or receive more information, contact Park Resource Education Ranger Florie Takaki by phone at 828-497-1906 or by email at

Blue Ridge Parkway Closure


Linn Cove Viaduct is a dreamy ride through the clouds!

Blue Ridge Parkway closure at the Linn Cove Viaduct, the most visited and recognized stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, is scheduled to close for three months beginning March 1 according to the National Park Service. The area, which includes trail areas below the viaduct, will also be off limits to cyclist and hikers. Park officials said the closure is necessary to allow for resurfacing roads and bridge repairs, adding that the seven-mile stretch will reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend. According to reports from various media outlets, crews will replace asphalt pavement, joints and water-proofing membranes on the bridge as well as repairing support structures, curbing, railing and essential drainage features.
Located 18 miles southwest of Blowing Rock, N.C., the viaduct is one of the parkway’s most popular tourist draws and was the last part of the 469-mile road to be completed. Designated a national civil engineering landmark by the America Society of Civil Engineers, the 1,234-foot viaduct, consisting of 153 segments that weigh in at 50 tons each, was built at a cost of some $10 million.
It was a project that almost did not happen. According to accounts, the original plans for that stretch of the roadway included carving out parts of Grandfather Mountain. The plan sparked an immediate and intense opposition, especially by Hugh Morton who had inherited Grandfather Mountain from his own grandfather, Hugh MacRae. Preserving the mountain was a primary focus for Morton (who died in 2006) prompting him to donate easement for some 3,000 acres to the The Nature Conservancy whose focus is preserving land and water worldwide. Additional acres and easement were later sold to the conservancy. A compromise route, negotiated by Gov. Dan Moore, partnered the National Park Service’s landscape architects and Federal Highway Administration engineers who proposed that the road should be elevated wherever possible to eliminate cutting into the historic landscape. According to Park Service officials, the result has been called “the most complicated concrete bridge ever built.” The viaduct’s sweeping ‘S’ curve appears to hover in mid-air offering spectacular mountain and valley views and is often referred to as “a ride in the clouds.”

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the Great Smokies sister park!

Although the viaduct is a direct route to Grandfather Mountain and its state park hiking trails, Frank Ruggerio of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation was philosophical about the closure. Ruggerio said that he was sad that people will not enjoy the whole high country experience this spring, but agreed that it was a necessary step to make the repairs.
Grandfather Mountain and the state park is still accessible from U.S. 221.


Pigeon Forge Shopping

Shopping at The Island, Pigeon Forge, Great Smoky Mountains.

So many great places to shop in Pigeon Forge, so little time!

Pigeon Forge Shopping in the Smoky Mountains is always a special event! Boutique shops and outlets abound in Pigeon Forge, located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Designer fashions, name-brand shoes, bags and jewelry are all available at affordable prices in several outlet malls in Pigeon Forge an area that includes more than 300 stores that are home to unique art galleries and quaint shops featuring hand-crafted items, made by local artisans, clothing, toys, tools and furniture. The Pigeon Forge Outlet, also known as “The Red Roof Mall,” boasts a whopping 196,600 sq. ft. of shops that include Rack Room Shoes; Carter’s Children’s Wear; Corningware, Corelle, and Revere Factory Stores; Osh Kosh; Big Dog Sportswear; Country Music USA, as well as handbag, lingerie and menswear outlets. Check out the Moonshine Ridge Country Store for locally-sourced food and gift items, and the specialized Smokey Mountain Cat House for fun toys, special treats and all things cat-related for your favorite feline. The G.H. Bass & Co. Store traces its roots to another mountain range in Maine. It was the year 1876 and George Henry Bass made it his mission to offer the finest and most comfortable shoe by redesigning and updating a Norwegian farm shoe and naming them “Weejuns” thus introducing the first penny loafer which continues to be a perennial favorite. The Lodge Factory Store provides an opportunity to restock your kitchen with some of the best cast-iron cookware in the world which is delivered straight to the store from the company’s Tennessee foundry.

Pigeon Forge is also home to a large pottery of the same name which offers an amazing variety of both useful and decorative hand-thrown

The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge has been the hub of Smoky Mountain Shopping for over a century!

The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge has been the hub of Smoky Mountain Shopping for over 150 years!

items. Nearby is The Old Mill, which has stood sentinel on the west prong of the Little Pigeon River since 1830. Step inside the historic structure, now a cozy gift shop, and check out stone-ground meal, grits and flour along with many other locally-sourced gastronomic items that are sure to tempt the most discriminating palates. The Mill also houses a restaurant that specializes in down-home Southern cooking, a candy kitchen and the adjacent Old Forge Distillery. Iron Mountain Metal Crafts, a working blacksmith shop, is also nearby. Catch a glimpse of a simpler time as you watch area Smithy’s craft hand-forged works of art that are both decorative and useful. Nearby small shops offer an assortment of custom jewelry, hand-crafted furniture, beautiful candles, scented soaps, and personalized Christmas ornaments, all of which are sure to brighten your home. The Li’l Dolly store boasts the largest selection of quilts in the Southeast while Anna Sophia’s Boutique specializes in French Country Farmhouse décor. Got a sweet tooth? Look no further than the delectable candies and baked goods offered at several shops in the Pigeon Forge area. If sweets are not your thing check out the locally made sauces, rubs, jams, jellies, beef jerky or sip some smooth-tasting Tennessee Moonshine. From hand-dipped chocolates to the best in area crafts, the shops in Pigeon Forge offer something special for all ages.

Don’t miss the newest shopping and dining experience on the Island located in the middle of the West Prong of The Little Pigeon River. Step into the 6,000 sq. ft. Ole Smoky Barn which includes an onsite still, a tasting bar and retail store. The Paula Deen Store (and restaurant) stocks a variety of cookware as well as many useful and decorative household items. Southern Sportz overflows with sportswear and memorabilia representing all major league and college sports. Perhaps the “sauciest” little shop is Pepper Place, which bills itself as the planet’s #1 hot shop, and this is only one of the several area outlets for the innovative varieties of barbecue and hot sauces that have won a number of taste-test awards, and is locally produced in Sevierville. A must see is The Island Trading Post which has name brands found only on the island. Some of the most popular are the southern-inspired Sass Frass tees, Mud Pie’s adorable children’s clothing and personalized mugs, cups and plates that you design yourself. Unique jewelry offerings include Uno De 50, handcrafted in Spain and Firefly, designed and made in Guatemala. Doc’s Magic and Novelty Shop, owned by Doc Waddell & Sons, promises that, with a little help, you too can be AMAZING! Emery 5&10 is the place for old fashioned toys in a nostalgic atmosphere. A Tervis Outlet specializes in sturdy and colorful tumblers and mugs in a myriad of designs. Blossom, a family owned and operated herb and oil shop, provides more than 100 organic and wild crafted oils and more than 175 herbs and body care products. The Kryptonite Character store stocks TV and movie character’s T-shirts and collectibles that range from DC Comics to the Walking Dead. You will find classic and the most innovative new toys at The Toychest Company. The island is also home to several restaurants, a fantastic amusement park and the four-star Margaritaville Island Hotel.

Make your plans now for some great shopping during your next visit to the Smoky Mountains!