Rose Glen Literary Festival 2018

Mark your calendars now to attend the Rose Glen Literary Festival on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 at the Sevierville Convention Center. This year’s keynote speaker is Wiley Cash who is a writer in residence at the University of North Carolina-Ashville and also teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. Cash holds a B.A. in Literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in

wiley cash rose glen literary festival

Author Wiley Cash will be the keynote speaker at the Rose Glen Literary Festival in Sevierville, Tennessee. Photo credit: Brady Cash

English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Cash’s stories have appeared in The Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and the Carolina Quarterly. His essays on Southern Literature have appeared in American Literary Realism, The South Carolina Review, and other publications. All programs at the Festival are free with the exception of the luncheon ($20 per person.) Tickets may be purchased at the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

Other exciting featured authors, presentations and workshops at the 2017 Rose Glen Literary Festival:

9:15- 10: a.m. David Madden, LSU Robert Penn Warren Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing and the author of such novels as

David Madden HeySmokies

Author David Madden

Cassandra Singing and The Suicide’s Wife, a CBS Movie of the week in 1979 that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His collection of short stories includes The New Orleans of Possibilities; On The Big Wind, and The Last Bizarre Tale. Other works include Hair of the Dog, Pleasure Dome and Abducted by Circumstances.

9:15-10 a.m. Bren McClain, author of One Good Mama Bone, is a two time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and recipient of the 2005 Fiction Fellowship by the South Carolina Arts Commission.

9:30-11 a.m. Workshop by Christopher Herbert, author of Angels of Detroit. Hebert is a graduate of the University of Michigan and former senior editor of the University of Michigan Press, and winner of the 2013 Friends of American Writers award. He is currently Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee.

9:30 – 11 am. ABCs of Writing for Children Workshop conducted by Debbie Dadey and Rick Starkey. Dadey, who wrote Adventures of the Bailey School Kids and the Mermaid Tales, recently released a new book, Ready, Set, Goal. Starkey, a Sevier County native who lives in a 200-year-old cabin in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community where he and his wife own a magic shop and craft store, is the author of Blue Bones.

kathryn smith

Author Kathryn Smith

10:15-11 a.m. Kathryn Smith, author of The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR and the Untold Story Partnership that Defined a Presidency, earned a bachelors degree in journalism at the University of Georgia, worked as a daily newspaper reporter and editor, and has been the book columnist for the Anderson Independent Mail for 20 years.

10:15-11 a.m. RB Morris, a singer-songwriter whose songs have been recorded by John Prine and Marianne Faithful, has published several books of poetry. These include Early Fires, Littoral Zones, and The Mockingbird Poems. He is the current Poet Laureate of Knoxville.

11:15 to 12: a.m Mark Powell is the author of five novels including Echolocation. He holds degrees from the Yale Divinity School, the University of South Carolina, and the Citadel. Powell, who received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Breadloaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences, was also a Fulbright Fellow to Slovakia 2014.

11:15-12:a.m Jennifer McGaha lives in a wooded Appalachian hollow where she farms and writes about family, farming and Appalachian culture. Her essays have appeared in dozens of blogs and magazines including The Good Men Project, the Chronicle of Higher Education Baltimore Fishbowl and others. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

12:30-2 p.m. Luncheon Keynote Speaker, Wiley Cash, writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teacher in the Low-Residency MFA Program in fiction and nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University.

2:15-3:30 p.m. Panel Discussion:
Bill Landry. Landry is the voice, host, narrator, and co-producer of The Heartland Series, which has aired on WBIR-TV for nearly 30 years

bill landry heysmokies

Bill Landry author and host of the Hearland Series. Photo credit: Fentress County historical society.

and, has received two Emmy Awards for directing the series. Landry holds an MFA from Trinity University at the Dallas Theater Center and a BA in Literature from the University of Tennessee. In 2009, Landry premiered his DVD production of William Bartram – An Unlikely Explorer for the 75th anniversary of the founding of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Sam Venable, a graduate of the University of Tennessee and author of 12 books, is a former feature writer and police reporter for the Knoxville journal and the Chattanooga News-Free Press. A member of the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame and Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, Venable has won more than three dozen national and regional writing awards. Now retired as a humor columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, Venable continues to write news and outdoor columns for the paper.

Linn Stepp is On Adjunct faculty at Tusculum College where she teaches research. She has taught a variety of psychology and counseling courses for more than 16 years. Stepp has nine published novels each set in different locations around the Smoky Mountains. She and her husband have published a Smokies hiking guide.

Stephen Lyn Bales is senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has written for Smithsonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to the Tennessee Conservationist magazine. He is also a regular speaker at Wilderness Wildlife Week. His first book Natural Histories covered the history of the Tennessee Valley. Bales second book, Ghost Birds; Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1935-1941, recalls Jim Tanner, the only ornithologist to conduct an in-depth study of the largest woodpecker to live in the United States, the legendary ghost bird of the south.

Check out this impressive video about the history of Rose Glen and its founders who inspired the creation of the Rose Glen Literary Festival.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center Hosts Holiday Homecoming


Get in the holiday spirit at the Oconaluftee Holiday Homecoming!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts the Oconaluftee Visitor Center Holiday Homecoming on Saturday, December 16, 2017. Park staff and volunteers will provide hands-on traditional crafts and activities from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about and experience some of the traditions surrounding an Appalachian Christmas.

The visitor center will be decorated for the holiday season including an exhibit on Christmas in the mountains. Hot apple cider and cookies will be served on the porch with a fire in the fireplace. In addition, the park will host the monthly acoustic old time jam session from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Musical expression was and still is often a part of daily life in the southern mountains, and mountain music is strongly tied to the Smokies history and culture,” said Lynda Doucette, Supervisory Park Ranger, Oconaluftee Visitor Center. “This month our music jam will focus on traditional holiday tunes. We would like to invite musicians to play and our visitors to join us in singing traditional Christmas carols and holiday songs as was done in old days.

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is located on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441), two miles north of Cherokee, N.C. For more

information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904. All activities are free and open to the public. Generous support of this event is provided by the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is a must stop for any visit to the Great Smoky Mountains! Entrance to the Center is free and it is open to

Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Oconaluftee Visitor Center is a must stop for any visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

the public every day except Christmas day. The Visitor Center has plenty of parking for cars, RVs and motor coaches. Public restrooms and vending machines are available to the left of the Center’s main entrance. You will find everything you need to experience the Park at your own pace.

The Visitor Center offers a unique view into the area’s past at the Mountain Farm Museum – a collection of historic log buildings from the late 19th century that were relocated here from all over North Carolina in the 1950’s.

41st Christmas Past Celebration

Meet Saint Nick at the Festival of Christmas Past in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Meet Saint Nick at the Festival of Christmas Past in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Photo credit: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sugarlands Visitors Center will host the Great Smoky Mountains 41st annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration. The event is scheduled for Saturday, December 9th from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center a half mile south of the Gatlinburg national park entrance. This event is cosponsored by the Great Smoky Mountains Associationand is free to the public.

The festival will include old-time mountain music, traditional shape note singing, mountain craft demonstrations, and a living history walk. Visitors can also experience these traditions through hands-on activities such as make-and-take craft stations. Hot apple cider will also be served throughout the day.

Around Christmas time, people gathered in churches, homes, and schools where they celebrated the holiday through music, storytelling, and crafts,” said North District Resource Education Supervisor Stephanie Sutton. “The Festival of Christmas Past allows us to pause and remember some of these traditions.

Make sure and add all the fun scheduled to your calendar so you don’t miss a single minute!

9:30 Shape Note Singing
11:00 Old-time mountain music with Lost Mill
11:00 Memories Walk
12:00 Old-time mountain music with Boogertown Gap
1:00 Smoky Mountain Historical Society
2:00 Appalachian Christmas Music and Storytelling – NPS Staff

Sugarlands Visitor Center, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is a must stop for any visit to the Great Smoky Mountains!

The popular Christmas Memories Walk will be held at 11:00 a.m. Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk from the visitor center and talk about life in the mountains during the holidays. Through this living history program, visitors will experience the spirit of the season in the mountains during the early days.

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is a must stop for any visit to the Great Smoky Mountains! Entrance to the center is free and it is open to the public every day except Christmas day. The Visitor Center has plenty of parking for cars, RVs, and motor coaches. Public restrooms and vending machines are available to the left of the center’s main entrance. Here you will find everything you need to experience the park at your own pace.




Biltmore Christmas Celebration

christmas at Biltmore Estate

The halls are decked with silver and gold this Christmas at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Photo credit: Travel & Leisure

Biltmore Christmas Celebration is a must for young and old! It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Biltmore House which rises in the early morning mountain mist like a fairy-tale castle. There is really no bad season to visit Biltmore, the largest private home in America, located in Asheville, N.C., but possibly the most amazing time (and our personal favorite) is for Candle Christmas Evenings held between November 3 and January 6, and is the only time of the year that the mansion opens at night. Each year Biltmore decorators select a different theme, and this year’s “Gilded Age Christmas” takes cues from stories told and retold about early Vanderbilt family celebrations. A towering 55-foot Norway spruce, ablaze with 45,000 twinkling lights, and hand-lit luminaries welcome guests as they arrive along a long circular driveway that surrounds the front lawn. Firelight reflects on thousands of ornaments that decorate dozens of Christmas trees located throughout the mansion’s grand rooms, but the most amazing is a 34-ft. Frazier Fir, ornamented from top to bottom and surrounded by elaborately wrapped gifts, that forms the focal point in the immense Banquet Hall. Miles of garlands festoon doorways, mantels, chandeliers and hallways and live performances of Christmas music begin at the entrance and continue throughout the house
The magnificent French renaissance-style structure, which encompasses 80,000 square feet, was commissioned by George W. Vanderbilt in 1889 and christened with a spectacular Christmas Eve party held for his friends in 1895. Vanderbilt, who fell in love with the western North Carolina area after visiting several times with his mother, purchased 125,000 acres (land that included more than 50 farms and at least five cemeteries) in order to build his incredible Blue Ridge Mountain estate.

The Biltmore Mansion’s opulence has thrilled visitors for decades! Photo credit: Biltmore Estate

Evening tours range from $70 to $85 for adults as compared to daytime tours priced from $50 to $60. Whichever you choose there are plenty of activities to justify the cost. Daily seminars include decorating with holiday wreaths and creating holiday tablescapes are available and the estate’s conservatory hosts an annual poinsettia and tropical plant display. Santa Claus welcomes the younger set in Antler Hill Village (home to several eateries, the Biltmore Winery and gift shops) each weekend through Dec. 20. Those who prefer the natural quiet and serene sense of peace the holiday season confers may opt to drive through the now 8,000 acre estate and walk through the lavish 75 acres of Biltmore gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, of New York’s Central Park fame. A variety of tours and package deals are available by visiting Where you can also book al tour tickets online.

Smoky Mountains Fall Red Beauty Mountain Ash!

The high altitude scarlet beauty Mountain Ash is exhilarating!

Smoky Mountains Fall Red Beauty Mountain Ash! Who wouldn’t love a beautiful ornamental tree, not too large or too small, with an abundance of leaves, pure white buds and blossoms in late spring followed by bright red edible berries in the fall, a tree that lives for up to 200 years and has the added (albeit folklorish) benefit of protecting us against evil spirits?  Then meet the mountain ash, also known by its more romantic European name, the Rowan tree.

The first thing to know is that the mountain ash is not an ash tree at all.  While the ash is a very large tree, the mountain ash varies greatly in size, according to the growing conditions, but tends to be much smaller (no more than 10 – 20 feet tall) than the towering ash and belongs to a completely different botanical family—namely, the rose!  Indeed, the mountain ash is often so small that it is thought to be a shrub instead of a tree.  It does, however, have a compound leaf similar to that of the ash (only smaller and with fewer leaflets), which is the apparent source of confusion.

The variety of mountain ash that grows in the Smoky Mountains is the American mountain-ash (Sorbus americanus), which is very similar in nearly every respect to its European cousin (Sorbus aucuparia).  The berries of both varieties often last through the entire winter into blossom time the next spring and thus provide an important source of food for wildlife, especially birds which play an important role is spreading the indigestible seeds of the mountain-ash.  In England the berries, which are inedible raw, are cooked into a jam or combined with apples in a chutney and served with wild game and other meats.

The tree itself is very rugged and adaptable thriving in the Southern Appalachians.  While it prefers a rich, well-drained soil, it will grow in nearly all soils, including our stubborn East Tennessee red clay, compensating for any lack of nutrition it encounters by simply adjusting its size.

In the British Isles the rowan tree is associated with many aspects of Celtic folklore and Christian traditions.  Both Celts and Christians believed that the tree provides those close by with protection against various evils, especially witches.  Hence, rowan branches were often fastened to the lintels of cottage windows and doors as well as over barn doors (for witches especially loved the prank of souring cows’ milk).  Rowan trees were also planted in cottage and church yards for protection.  The fact that rowan trees often grow in mountainous areas was also thought to drive witches from their favorite habitat, although the real reason seems to be that browsing animals, especially deer and elk, love rowan saplings and so devour those growing in the valleys.

During Candlemas (February 2—the traditional midpoint of winter) residents of the English Westlands (Thomas Hardy country) place crosses made of rowan twigs tied with red yarn about their houses to banish the dark of winter and welcome the coming light and warmth of spring.  In Ireland the rowan tree is associated with St. Brigid, the patroness of Ireland, whose feast day is February 1st.

The mountain ash lives so long, at least in part, because it has no pests or diseases that assail it.  Deer, however, do browse on its leaves—a point to keep in mind if you plan to grow a mountain ash in your yard.

Whether for cultural or botanical purposes, the mountain ash is a native tree well worth considering for our own properties, both to add beauty and provide for wildlife.

Mountain Ash can be found be found in many popular high elevation destinations in the Smoky Mountains such as Mount LeConte and Clingmans Dome in addition to our sister national park the Blue Ridge Parkway. is honored to have Carl Parsons as a contributing writer. Carl is Deputy Editor for Storyteller Magazine, a member of the Writers’ Guild of Sevier County, TN, and a Tennessee Master Gardener.