Smoky Mountain Bears black bear

Be bear aware when you visit their home!

Smoky Mountain Bears are the symbol of the Smokies and sighting one is always a special event! With the tourist season in full swing and a record number of visitors to the Smoky Mountains predicted this summer, along with reports from National Park rangers of increased bear activity, the opportunities for an encounter with the Smoky’s most iconic symbol have increased as well. Approximately 1,600 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and this year sightings and encounters seem to be on the rise.

There are a few things that visitors and locals alike need to know regarding black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains.

For many, spotting a bear is the most exciting part of their vacation in the Smokies. And rightly so, the majestic creatures are truly a sight to behold and their furry cuteness creates some sort of romantic notion about their gentleness. However, bears in the Great Smoky Mountains Park are wild creatures and can be dangerously unpredictable. At speeds of 30 mph, black bears can outrun, outclimb, and outswim humans.

Continue reading…

Pigeon Forge Welcome Home Veterans Parade

Pigeon Forge Welcome Home Veterans Parade

Vintage military vehicles will be showcased in the Welcome Home Veterans Parade in Pigeon Forge.

Pigeon Forge Welcome Home Veterans Parade. Join the fun in Pigeon Forge and salute America’s military veterans at The Veterans Homecoming Parade on Saturday, August 18th at 9:00 a.m.

The parade route will proceed along the parkway in the shadow of Mount LeConte and the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Floats of all kinds will follow the Grand Marshall up the parkway. Visitors can expect to see vintage and modern military vehicles and patriotic motorcycle clubs, Shriners mini Mustang club, marching bands, ROTC cadets and more.

This event is one of the many great things to do during the month long celebration of freedom. The Veterans Homecoming Parade will travel northbound on the Parkway from traffic light #8 (Dollywood Lane) and wrapping up at traffic light #5 (Jake Thomas Road).

The City of Pigeon Forge has a long history of honoring our nations many brave veterans and that will continue on into the future,” says Butch Helton, Special Events Manager for the City of Pigeon Forge.

For more information call 1-800-251-9100.

The HeySmokies patriots created this fun video of the Welcome Home Veterans Parade.

Grainger County Tomato Festival

Grainger county Tomato Festival - HeySmokies

It is about to get delicious in Grainger County!

Grainger County Tomato Festival is going to be a delicious way to spend a summer weekend! This Smoky Mountain event was organized in 1992 to promote world famous Grainger County Tomatoes. The mission is to promote all Grainger County agricultural products, specifically the Grainger County Tomato, and to promote local artists, authors, talent, and craftsmen.

Many special events have been added this year making the festival one of the largest free festivals in East Tennessee.  Parade magazine named the Tomato Festival one of the top ten festivals in the USA. This family friendly event is alcohol free and attendees are expected to use good southern manners. The annual event is the last weekend in July in Rutledge,Tennessee.

Pets are welcome at the Tomato Fest but remember it occurs in late July and it will be HOT. There will be watering stations and misting tents on the festival grounds to help you and your furry friend keep cool.  Remember to pick up after your pets and deposit their love in the nearest garbage can.

The annual art contest will get your creative juices flowing. If you wish to enter the contest bring your entries to the elementary school on Friday July 27th by 3:30 ready to hang unless it is 3D. There are several categories to enter for both children and adults. Please limit three per artist. Be sure to fill out the provided tags to identify your piece when dropping it off. Judging will be at the end of the day and the winners will be displayed Saturday.

The 4th annual Concert Series is headlined by none other than Trace Adkins! The show will be held on the middle school football field Saturday, July 28, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. Admission to the show is the nice price – FREE!


Charles the Pig

Discover Charles the Pig’s amazing survival story.

Charles the pig will be attending the festival and rooting around for a good time! Charles is the miraculous survivor of The Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire. Charles will be selling his books, art work, stuffed animals and what ever else he decides to make to help raise money for his family to rebuild their home. You can keep up with Charles and see how his family is doing on his Facebook page, Charles The Pig.

​Story telling is a Tennessee tradition and Harry Bumgardner, a member of the Sons of the Revolution, will be on hand spinning a tale or two.  Harry knows everything a man needs to know about the early history of America and loves to share his knowledge. His mesmerizing tales are a favorite with young folks! In addition to telling stories he will demonstrate his flint lock rifle. After spending time with Harry be sure and visit the long hunter’s camp located near the Living History area.

A working blacksmith will be on hand where you can learn what it is like to make your own tools at the forge. The blacksmith will be returning for the 8th consecutive year. He is the owner of Homegrown Forge, and makes many unique items including railroad spike knives, equipment for outdoor cooking and more. He will be working under the big tree in the Living History. He is always happy to answer questions about blacksmithing.

The infamous Tomato War is a must for every festival attendee! Choose sides, grab a bushel and get it on! This crowd pleaser is bound to satisfy your hankerin’ for maters. This year The Tomato Wars is a fund raiser for God’s Planet for Haiti.
 God’s Planet for Haiti (GP4H) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Maryville, Tennessee and received a charter from the State of Tennessee in March of 2010. GP4H is also recognized in Haiti as an international non-profit organization.


Cades Cove Loop Lope

Cades Cove Loop Lope

Cades Cove Loop Lope is a Great Smoky Mountain Special Event! The Cades Cove Foot Race (AKA – the Cades Cove Loop Lope) hosted by Friends of the Smokies and the Knoxville Track Club is scheduled for Sunday, November 4, 2018. This exciting race was originally billed as a one time event at it’s inauguration in 2010. Since then it has grown in popularity. Participation is limited to 750 total runners and all participants will be awarded a t-shirt and finishers medallion.

We are very excited to bring this race back to such a beautiful part of our national park,” says Jim Hart, Friends of the Smokies president. “This is a unique way to experience the splendor of the Cove and raise money to protect it for future generations at the same time.

Friends of the Smokies will provide more than $90,000 for historic preservation and wildlife management programs in Cades Cove and a total of $1.4 million for other critical park projects.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash remarked the race marks an opportunity to connect with the next generation of public lands stewards who are active in our national parks.

We are pleased to work with the Friends to offer this opportunity that supports the park and encourages people to use the park for fitness,” said Superintendent Cash. “The park provides an incredible setting for people to improve mind, body, and spirit.”

Registration begin July 17, 2018 at Participants can choose between the 3.1 mile (5K) or the 10-mile loop routes. Each race is $75.00 to enter.

Dollywood Season Of Showstoppers

Dollywood season of showstoppers

There is a ton of fun to experience this season at Dollywood! Photo credit – Travel + Leisure

Dollywood Season Of Showstoppers in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Stars shine bright in Dollywood during the 2018 Season of Showstoppers.
Dollywood’s 33rd season kicked off with an amazing array of entertainment entitled “Season of Showstoppers” that includes extravagant fireworks and extended park hours.

Named by Amusement Today’s Golden ticket Award for Best Theme Park Entertainment for the past nine years, Dollywood is upping the ante to win for the 10th straight year with an additional $1 million investment in this season’s productions which offer exciting new acts for season pass holders or those opting to purchase the new multi-day ticket.

The year began March 17-April 9 with a Festival of Nations that honored the traditional music, dance and food and crafts from countries across the globe. It continued with Spring Mix Music series April 11-29 that spotlighted classic country talent. The park’s popular Barbecue & Bluegrass was held May 25- June 10, and scheduled more that 350 concerts during the festival.

The Summer Celebration, June 16-Aug. 5, highlights the newly extended park hours10 a.m-10.p.m., nightly fireworks and exciting new entertainment. The all new Nighttime Experience showcases some of Dollywood’s best daytime performers who bring their interpretations of today’s hottest hits in an evening production scheduled from July 25-Aug. 8, and the extended park hours provides an opportunity for families to also enjoy Dollywood’s world-class rides well into the night.

Additional attractions included America’s got Talent finalists, iLuminate, performing June 16-July 4. This inventive group features electrified glow-in-the-dark costumes and dynamic dance routines and illusions. iLuminate has toured the world from Egypt to Malaysia, and appeared on such shows as Dancing with the Stars, X-Factor and Ellen. The group has also performed with such stars as Christina Aguilera and The Black Eyed Peas.

From July 7-July 24, DRUMline Live! brings synchronized music based on the hit 2002 movie, Drumline. DRUMline Live runs in Celebrity Theater June 16-July 4. The evenings climax with an amazing fireworks extravaganza set to lively music.
One of the more unusual offerings is speed painter Ricardo Barazza and his impressive PaintJam, which runs for the entire summer celebration. Barazza uses his amazing talents to create stunning works of art on a spinning 380 degree canvas while dancing and “moving to the grooving.”

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival, presented by Humana Sept. 28-Nov.3., includes an expansion of the favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights and also features the largest Southern gospel event in America. More than 600 performances by award-winning southern gospel acts takes place during the festival and thousands of carved pumpkins will illuminate the evening with an eerie glow. Visitors will also enjoy the artistry of visiting crafters from across the country and also have a chance to sample the harvest-themed food items from Dollywood’s award winning food teams.

Christmas is special at Dollywood, honored as the Best Christmas Event at any theme park worldwide, where more than four million holiday lights and nostalgic performances provide a holiday atmosphere that is perfect for your family. Dolly’s Parade of Many Colors and traditional shows like It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas in the Smokies are guaranteed to put your entire family in the holiday spirit!

For more information on Dollywood’s Summer Celebration, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD, or go to DOLLYWOOD.

Check out our great video of Dolly’s speed painter Ricardo Barazza below!