Blue Ridge Parkway: MP 312 to MP 423
Follow the parkway to these great cities and towns:
- Big South Fork,
- Johnson City,
- Oak Ridge,
- Pigeon Forge,
- Sevierville &
East Tennessee’s beauty is wild as whitewater, peaceful as a Smoky Mountain cove and bright as the big city lights of Knoxville. Tales of frontier life come alive along the paths of westward-bound pioneers.
Tennessee’s Smokies are as vast as the view from the state’s highest point, Clingman’s Dome or as cozy as the sheltered pioneer settlement of Cade’s Cove. Dollywood draws families to Pigeon Forge for thrilling rides and musical shows while those in search of the “peaceful side of the Smokies” head for Townsend. Artisans and craftspeople display their talents at the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community in the town of Gatlinburg, where couples still head to say their vows in a mountain chapel.
There are “quieter” sights to see in the state’s northeast corner such as the first territorial capital, Rocky Mount; the oldest town, Jonesborough, where storytelling is an art; or the last covered bridge still in use at Elizabethton. Stop at small towns along the Old Stage Road and delve into the area’s Revolutionary War, pioneer and Civil War history. Try boating on a TVA-lake or hike one of the area’s many trails.
Lavender Festival – June 14- 15, 2013 at Historic Jackson Square, Oak Ridge. Herb fair featuring a farmers market, music throughout the day, enticing food, vendors selling herb plants and herbal products, handmade soap, jewelry, pottery, culinary and garden items, as well as arts and crafts. The focus is on gardening, cooking, aromatherapy, health, sustainability, and all things herbal. There will be cooking demonstrations, herbal tastings, informative lavender presentations, and a special Herb of the Year. (865) 483-0961, www.jacksonsquarelavenderfestival.org.
Secret City Festival – June 21-22, 2013 at Oak Ridge Civic Center. Join us for this citywide celebration featuring the largest multi-battle WWII re-enactment in the South! Tours of Manhattan Project sites will be offered throughout the weekend. A special children’s festival area features free games, the Euro Bungy, rock climbing wall, live entertainment, a petting zoo, pony rides, and more! Arts & Crafts vendors, antique dealers, and exhibitors will be showing off their wares. Free entertainment from marionettes to music to tai-chi demonstrations will take place on various stages. Oscar the Robot will be teasing kids with his wit and charm, and the Tennessee State Parks will have their eagle and owl on hand for photo opportunities. (865) 425-3610, www.secretcityfestival.com.
June Days in Englewood – June 22-23, Englewood. Community celebration with music, crafts, and food ending with a community street dance. (423) 887-5455.
Patriot Festival – July 4, 2013, Pigeon Forge. Patriot Park turns into one of the biggest 4th of July celebrations in the region. Local and star-caliber entertainers perform from early afternoon into the night, and it’s all capped off with a gigantic fireworks display. (800) 251-9100.
July 4th Celebration and Anvil Shoot – July 4, 2013 at Museum of Appalachia. July 4th will be celebrated in an unusual, dramatic, and traditional fashion at the Museum of Appalachia with historic anvil shoots. In addition, there will be demonstrations of mountain arts and crafts. Bluegrass, old time and folk music will be played and sung on the porches of the cabins and in the old log church, hymn singing and church services will be conducted. The demonstrations and music can be found throughout the 65-acre farm/village complex. (865) 494-7680, www.museumofappalachia.org.
Fun Fest 2013 – July 12-20. Kingsport. Nine-day family festival, hot air balloons, 8K race, music, sports events, kids’ area. (800) 743-5282, visitkingsport.com/funfest.
18th Century Trade Faire – Fort Loudoun State Historic Area – September 7-8, Vonore. A living history event that re-creates a colonial marketplace. (423) 884-6217.
2nd Days of the Pioneer Antique Show – September 13-14, 2013 at the Museum of Appalachia. (865) 494-7680, www.museumofappalachia.org
National Storytelling Festival – October 4-6. Jonesborough. World-renowned tellers spin their tales throughout town. (800) 952-8392, storytellingcenter.net/festival.
Student Heritage Day – October 10, 2013 at Museum of Appalachia. There will be hands on activities, from pottery making to guitar workshops and clogging lessons. Countless opportunities for learning, observing and participating will be offered to students. (865) 494-7680, www.museumofappalachia.org.
Tennessee Fall Homecoming – October 11-13, 2013 at Museum of Appalachia. Come and visit the most extensive and authentic gathering of old-time musicians and pioneer-type craftspeople in the country. Explore the 65-acre museum complex with hundreds of people engaged in frontier, mountain and rural activities, along with over 300 traditional, folk, early country and bluegrass musicians. (865) 494-7680, www.museumofappalachia.org.
Clinch River Antique Festival – October 11-12, 2013 at Historic Downtown Clinton. “Kick-Off Party” on Friday, October 11th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Market Street antique and specialty stores will be open and there will be entertainment and food. On Saturday, October 12th, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 70 antique dealers and artisans will line Market Street. In addition, Market Street’s antique and specialty stores will be open and there will be antique cars, kiddieland, entertainment and great food. Free admission and parking. (865) 457-2559.
Fall Jamboree – October 17-19, 2013 at Windrock Park. There will be guided ATV rides and other activities such as mud bog, drag races, sled pulls, rock crawls, a kid’s scavenger hunt, tug of war challenge, poker run and much more. Spectators can watch the competitions then jump in the Dash for Cash. The event takes place at Windrock Park which consists of over 72,000 acres of off-road adventure for the entire family with many picturesque views of East Tennessee’s mountains and valleys. Explore over 250 miles of trails for riding ATV’s, Motorcycles, Mountain Bikes, in addition to four wheeling in Jeeps and Rail buggies and Hiking. The Coal Creek OHV Area is the perfect place to see the Tennessee Valley Authority’s windmill farm, which consist of eighteen 392 foot windmills on 210 acres. Camping facilities are available at Windrock Park and campground. www.coalcreekohv.com, (865) 435-1251.
Winterfest Kickoff – November 12. Pigeon Forge starts to glow in a major way tonight as 5 million festive lights come on for a four-month celebration that is one of the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events in North America. The annual Salute to Veterans Parade precedes a ceremony at Patriot Park when a special guest flips one switch to illuminate the city. (800) 251-9100.
Christmas in Old Appalachia – December 7-24. Museum of Appalachia. The simple joys of an old-fashioned Christmas await Museum of Appalachia visitors during December. Music of the season can be heard across the grounds. Cabins will be decorated in pioneer style, recalling times past when Christmas was a simple family holiday including cedar Christmas trees draped with paper chains, popcorn strings, sweet gum and sycamore balls. Christmas shoppers will find many hand-crafted items in the gift shop. Hot, country-style lunches are served daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the museum restaurant and homemade cakes, pies, cookies and other holiday treats are available all day. (865) 494-7680, www.museumofappalachia.org.
9th Annual Antique Appraisal Fair & Show – Feb. 15, 2014 – Greeneville High School, Greeneville. Appraisal Fair that features more than 40 antique dealers selling their treasures along with 10 appraisers assessing the value of antiques brought in by the public. Admission is FREE and appraisals are $5 each. (423) 638-4111.
Wilderness Wildlife Week – January 25-February 1, 2014, Pigeon Forge. This is a week of talks, walks, photography workshops, musical program and other events dedicated to love of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the great outdoors. This will be the 24th Wilderness Wildlife Week, and it will be in a new home, the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge. All programs are free. (800) 251-9100.
Saddle Up – February 19-23, 2014. Pigeon Forge wraps up Winterfest with a tip of the cowboy hat to the American West. Saddle Up is a four-day festival of cowboy poetry, western music and chuck wagon cooking. There’s a free Buckeroo Roundup for family fun on the day of a sanctioned chuck wagon cookoff. (800) 251-9100.
A Mountain Quiltfest – March 11-15, 2014, Pigeon Forge. Hundreds of beautiful quilts, plus classes to learn about making them. (800) 251-9100.