Firefly Campout at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Feel like a kid again at the Firefly Campout with your youngsters at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Photo credit – Kirk H. Neely

Firefly Campout at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. A firefly campout is designed for youngsters whose early bedtimes might make it difficult for them to stay up late enough to see the amazing twinkling display of hundreds of synchronous fireflies which typically don’t appear until well after 8 p.m.

The event is the brainchild of the staff at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, a nature and conservation school that has hosted the camp for the past three years. Education Director John Didiego said the event, designed for 4-9 year olds and their parents, offers the flexibility of one to three night stays, and the option of a parent remaining with the child at camp which is slated July 4-7 2017 . Only a few slots remain open on July 4, 2017.
The overnight camp for a child (ages 4-9) and one parent is $96 and each additional person is $48. For more info on the camp and a complete list of other Tremont child and adult programs, visit www.gssmit, or cll 865-448-6709.

Sevierville hosts 13th Annual Bloomin’ Barbecue and Bluegrass

Come enjoy some pickin’ and good eats at the Bloomin’ Barbecue and Bluegrass festival! Artwork/photo credit – Shelby Coutu.

Sevierville hosts 13th Annual Bloomin’ Barbecue and Bluegrass. Pack up the family and head to downtown Sevierville May 19-20 for the 13th annual Bloomin’ Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival. More than 50 barbecue teams from as far away as Nebraska, Florida, Ohio, Georgia and Virginia will vie for the winning trophy in this official Tennessee State Barbecue championship. A $15 ticket allows visitors to sample and vote for their favorite pulled pork in the People’s Choice Tasting Contest. Advance tickets are available by calling the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce at 865-453-6411.

Come for the ‘cue and stay for world-class bluegrass headlined this year by 14-time Grammy-Award winner Ricky Skaggs who was also named Entertainer of the Year in 1985 by the Country Music Association. Admission to the event and all the concerts is free. A late night jam on Friday May 19th, scheduled from 10 p.m to 2 a.m. and presented by The Dixie Stampede, will be held at Courthouse Donuts in downtown Sevierville. Led by four-time National Banjo Champion Gary “Biscuit” Davis, the jam will provide bluegrass musicians a chance to “show their stuff.”
Special children’s events are also planned, and a Mountain Soul Competition will feature contestants (in two categories-13 and up and 12 and under) performing some of the more than 3,000 songs penned by Sevierville’s favorite daughter, Dolly Parton.

More than 37,000 visitors attended the last two festivals which was awarded the Grand Pinnacle Award in 2015 by the International Festival and Events.

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Gatlinburg Beans & Cornbread Festival on Thursday, May 11th!


HeySmokies it is about to get delicious in Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the Beans & Cornbread Festival! Photo credit – Idoby2013

Gatlinburg Beans & Cornbread Festival on Thursday, May 11th! No food is more comforting to a Southerner’s heart and stomach, than a heapin’ helpin’ of beans and hot cornbread. On Thursday, May 11, 2017 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. you can fill your tummy and warm your heart at the annual Gatlinburg Beans & Cornbread Festival presented by the Smokies’ beloved Bush Brothers & Company. The competition, which includes local businesses, restaurants, and caterers, will offer new ideas on preparing the best traditional and innovative beans and cornbread recipes. Bush’s Best beans are featured in all the dishes offered.

The Gatlinburg Beans& Cornbread Festival, named by Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 Event, will be held downtown Gatlinburg on the Parkway between traffic lights #3 and #8. Entrance to the festival is free; an unlimited sampling spoon can be purchased for $10. Entertainment for the festival will be provided by some of the musicians from the ever-popular Jody Medford and Cash Creek. The two have teamed up for the “Moonshine Angels Tour,” and are nominated for the ICMA Mainstream Group / Duo of the Year. Their new single and EP is called “The Hard Way.”

Join the City of Gatlinburg and Bush Beans & Company for a wonderful family event which celebrates the food, music, culture and heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian region. For more information, call the Gatlinburg CVB at 800-588-1817 or 800-430-4148.

If you would like to discover more about the special heritage and history of Bush Beans & Company in the Smoky Mountains at the Bush’s Visitor Center, General Store, and Cafe in nearby Chestnut Hill/Dandridge TN. Visit Bush’s Visitor Center for more information.

The Dolly Parade is Ready To Roll!

The Dolly Parade is ready to roll! For 32 years, Dolly Parton has returned to her beloved Smoky Mountains to ring in the spring season with her millions of fans. Each year, Dolly has delighted parade-goers with her amazing grand marshall float and a matching outfit. This event is always incredible and 2017 will be no exception. The parade will host over 100 participants as the American icon rides atop her new float with beautiful Mount LeConte as the backdrop. About 60,000 visitors will attend this special event. If you can’t make it in person you can still join the fun on Facebook!


32nd Dolly Parade is on it’s way! Photo credit – BanditBlog


The 32nd Annual Dolly Parade will begin at 6:00 p.m. EST on Friday, May 5, 2017 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The parade route begins at traffic light #6 on the Parkway and travels to traffic light #3. This is expected to be biggest Dolly Parade ever and it should last about two hours!

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates

Synchronous fireflies in Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo credit -Radim Schreiber

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the dates for firefly viewing in Elkmont. Shuttle service to the viewing area will be provided on Tuesday, May 30 through Tuesday, June 6. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have a parking pass distributed through the lottery system at

Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited to shuttle service beginning at Sugarlands Visitor Center during the eight days of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the critical two-week mating period.

The lottery will be open for applications from Friday, April 28 at 12:00 noon until Monday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. Results of the lottery will be available on Wednesday, May 10. A total of 1,800 vehicle passes will be available for the event which includes: 1768 regular-parking passes (225 per day) which admit one passenger vehicle up to 19’ in length with a maximum of six occupants, and 32 large-vehicle parking passes (four per day) which admit one large vehicle (RV, mini-bus, etc.) from 19’ to 30’ in length, with a maximum of 24 occupants. Lottery applicants must apply for either a regular-parking pass or large-vehicle parking pass and then may choose two possible dates to attend the event over the eight-day viewing period.

The lottery system uses a randomized computer drawing to select applications. There is no fee to enter the lottery this year. If selected, the lottery winner will be charged a $2.75 reservation fee and awarded a parking pass. The parking pass permits visitors to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and allows occupants to access the shuttle service to Elkmont.

Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one lottery application per household per season. All lottery applicants will be notified by e-mail on May 10 that they were “successful” and awarded a parking pass or “unsuccessful” and not able to secure a parking pass.

The number of passes issued each day is based primarily on the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot capacity and the ability to accommodate a large number of viewers on site. Arrival times will be assigned in order to relieve traffic congestion in the parking lot and also for boarding the shuttles, which are provided in partnership with the City of Gatlinburg. The shuttle buses will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7:00 p.m. The cost will be $1.00 round trip per person, as in previous years, and collected when boarding the shuttle. Cash will be the only form of payment accepted.

The shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period, except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. Visitors are not allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns.

Visitors may visit the website and search for “Firefly Event” for more information and to enter the lottery. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777, but park officials encourage the use of the online process. The $2.75 reservation fee covers the cost of awarding the passes.

For more information about the synchronous fireflies, please visit the park website at