Festival of Nations

Dollywood's Festival of NationsFor all the spectacular rides and water adventures offered by Dollywood every year, it’s the theme park’s shows that draw just as many crowds to them as any coaster or slide. If you’re from the area, you know that Dollywood’s Festival of Nations draw some of the biggest.

Dollywood’s Festival of Nations in Pigeon Forge, TN is a great way to discover Dollywood if this is your first time at the park, as well as a great event for those who have been a time or two. Festival of Nations has been an end of March through the beginning of May event in years past featuring international performers highlighting their cultures through dance, song, and culinary delights. It’s one of Dollywood’s most captivating events showcasing a world of entertainment, plus art, dancing, music and food, that’s most won’t see in person over an entire lifetime.

In 2011, Le Grand Cirque and the show Imaginé was back for another run on the Festival of Nations stage. But this is no Americanized “Circus”. This is a mouth-dropping performance weaving the flavor of numerous cultures into one spell binding show. These performances combine aerial acrobats, gymnasts, clowns, jugglers, and high wire artists in fantastic costumes. It’s a dazzling display of amazing feats set to great music. Really a can’t miss for the Festival of Nations.

Dollywood's Festival of NationsOther shows that have wowed the crowds at the Dollywood spectacular include Keona, an act unlike any other from Switzerland.  They perform using an instrument called the hang drum, which produces fascinating rhythms on many different drums. The Equadorian group Atahualpa captures the crowd with traditional South American song and dance. Native instruments as well as modern keyboards and guitars are just a part of their show, resulting in a melting pot of cultures and sounds. Calpulli Danza Mexicana has also put on a lively performance in years past featuring the Mexican variations of music and dance. Ceremonial dances and rich costumes from Mexico play a large part in Calpulli Danza Mexicana’s number.

DRUM!, a Nova Scotian group featuring 20 musicians, puts on quite the musical spectacle with dancers, drummers, and singers performing songs from four principle cultures – Aboriginal, Black, Celtic and Acadian. This 45-minute stage show is an upbeat combination of music, dance, poetry, video, rhythm and song, and is known the world over for its melding of different cultures into one spectacular performance.

Dollywood's Festival of NationsAnother group found to have combined together different cultures, Zambian Vocal Group brought numerous tribes together for their performance last year. Their united performance in a capella – no instruments, brought the crowd to its feet following a show of traditional hymns as well as original pieces to the backdrop of African rhythms, unique vocal percussion, and complex harmonies.

Whatever time of year, it’s always a great time to be at Dollywood, and even more so during the Festival of Nations. For the month of April into early May, you get all the normal attractions, plus everything encompassing the Festival of Nations. For more Festival of Nations information, check out Dollywood’s Festival of Nations web page. You’ll also find anything you need if you’re visiting Dollywood for the first time.

Driving Directions to Dollywood:

  • From Interstate 40, take Exit 407 toward Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg.
  • Follow TN Hwy. 66 South which becomes US 441.
  • At Traffic Light No. 8 in Pigeon Forge, turn left. Dollywood signs are posted along the road till you reach the park.

Using a GPS Navigation System:

Use the address 1198 McCarter Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge, TN 37862 to take you to  Dollywood’s entrance.

Pigeon Forge Rod Runs

With tourism being the business of the Smoky Mountains region, you could make a case for classic cars being the area’s hobby. Each year during the spring and fall, Pigeon Forge and the neighboring towns of Gatlinburg and Sevierville welcome thousands of car enthusiasts in for the Grand Spring and Fall Rod Runs. Since its inception, it’s become a gathering of metal and chrome not seen since Detroit’s hey-day during the early part of the 20th century.

On one street corner you’ve got shiny, chromed-up, vintage models like the classic ’56 & ’57 Chevys, while right down the road you might see someone trying to sell their unique fixer-upper that just needs a few of those oh so hard-to-find parts. Whether you’re there to fawn over that ride from your childhood, or finally lay down the green on that supped up ’70 GTO, there will be cars to drool over and cars to purchase. This is one of the largest gearhead gathering in the southeast, and it only happens twice a year. With so much metal and chrome, as well as brand name vendors from across the country in attendance, this is the car show to end all cars shows.

Traffic light No. 3 in Pigeon Forge is where the party starts. The endless line of cars runs almost all the way down the Parkway, while other cars are parked in every available parking space facing the road. To get you warmed up for the infusion of metal brought about by the Grand Fall Rod Run, the Shades of the Past car show gets the area started with its own chromed out festival the weekend prior.

Here, its cars as far as the eye can see. The thing to do is just park your car and walk either side of the Parkway. Cars of every make, model, and finish, especially cherry, vintage, American steel: a ’70 Chevelle Super Sport parked next to an Austin Healy; a ’68 Impala parked next to a ’38 Studebaker Bus. It’s an outdoor museum spread out along the Parkway.

Most of the car owners will be sitting near their rides – that’s one of the great things about the Rod Run, there’s no lack of car knowledge here. Everyone loves talking cars, especially if it’s their own. The owners will tell you everything from where they got it, any upgrades, and plenty of good stories. I’m sure you remember you’re first car, where you were, who you were with. And if they’ve not already been there a week, owners and their cars will start rolling in on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Friday the Parkway is literally roaring.

The spring and fall Grand Rod Runs bring in auto vendors from all over the country. Whether it’s just a vendor booth, a sponsor booth, or a demonstration, if you’re looking for stuff for your classic or muscle car this is the place. If you’re more into the mechanics of the automobile, you’ll see people representing Camaro Central to ET Motorgear, and Hunter’s Custom Automotive to Ausley’s Chevelle. These guys know how to keep a car running and have spent years doing it. They also know a thing or two about restoration. Ask them whatever you want; it’s why they’re there. Just be sure to head back over to the Parkway that night.

Each night, the constant parade of cars is palpable as owners fire up their engines and cruise the strip. Those same cars you admired that afternoon will be rumbling up and down the streets of Pigeon Forge to see whose is the loudest. It’s a mixture of steel, chrome and glass reflecting through the night. For some it’s a journey back in time. Each year, Pigeon Forge’s Grand Rod Runs let you relive it time and again.

Past Grand Rod Run Info:

• Participants:
30 Days Before Event = $30
Within 30 Days of Event = $40

• Vendors:
Outside Space (9×16) = $135
Inside Space (10×10) = $155
Sales Corral = $75

For more information about any of the Grand Rod Runs, contact:

MCS Promotions
Monday-Friday 8am – 4pm EST

Pigeon Forge Winterfest

There is no shortage of fall events in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this year and it starts with the town’s seasonal extravaganza – Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest. It’s a four month celebration of winter with such events as the Trolley Tour of Lights, Wilderness Wildlife Week, and Saddle Up.

The kickoff event itself is one to behold with the lighting of 5 million Christmas lights following a salute to veterans with a Veterans Parade throughout town. It’s not only a celebration of our heritage past and present, it’s a combination of the things that Southern Appalachians hold so dear. Look no further than Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest for what to do in the Smokies as fall turns into winter!

Winterfest in Pigeon ForgeThis incredible event has garnered numerous honors over the years from various publications and news outlets around the United States with some even proclaiming it a top event nationwide. But you don’t have to read a book or tune in for the national news to see why this is such an incredible event. Pack up your things, drive on down to Pigeon Forge, TN for the weekend, week, or even month, and enjoy everything our little town has to offer this time of year! You’ll see why Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest is the perfect time to book a Smoky Mountain vacation for the holidays.

Holiday lighting displays illuminate Pigeon Forge from one end of town to the other during these few months. We’re talking around 5 million LED lights! This lighting creation was sparked out of an idea in the mid-80′s when two city officials visited a Virginia town that featured holiday light displays that drew in thousands of visitors during the holiday season. Thus, the Winterfest idea grew and was implemented. The goal being that every year the town adds even more lights to the display. Next stop, 6 million lights!

Each year, the lighting displays get bigger, more detailed, and more breath taking. The town has even developed trolley tours in recent years so that people do not have to worry running into the car in front of them and can take in everything. It’s simply an experience you can’t find in most towns, at least around these parts.

As previously mentioned, outside the enormous lighting display, there are also numerous events and festivities taking place in Pigeon Forge throughout the winter. Winterfest officially kicks off this year on November 8 with a salute to Veterans held at Patriot Park. Other events that stretch throughout the winter include Wilderness Wildlife Week, Saddle Up, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, Pigeon Forge New Year’s Eve Celebrations, and a number of new yearly events.

The Old Mill

Small general stores used to be a staple for small Smoky Mountain towns. They supplied all the goods that a supermarket now carries, only it wasn’t produced in 10 different forms by 5 separate companies…. It was a simpler time of course.  For people living in Pigeon Forge then, the current Old Mill was where the general store was.  Since then, Pigeon Forge has grown drastically, and what is now the Old Mill Restaurant operate a  general store to keep the old time feel from totally disappearing.

If you’re at the restaurant, do a little shopping for corn meal that was milled by the Mill’s own water wheel. You’ll also find a variety of area souvenirs.  The Old Mill General Store is a landmark that everyone should see at least once in their life just to experience the idea of what it once was like…. how people lived back then.

Old Mill area MapTake notice as you’re traveling through Pigeon Forge and you’ll notice a sign at traffic light No. 6 for the Old Mill and Patriot Park.  Take the turn onto Old Mill Avenue, past Outback Leather (on the right), before coming to a large water wheel on the right.  You’ve come to the Old Mill General Store and the Old Mill Restaurant. Spend a few hours, or if you don’t have time come back the next day.

The walls and tables of the general store are lined with jams, jellies, cookbooks, souvenirs and of course sacks of flour and corn meal.  It’s like you’ve stepped back to the turn of the last century, almost. The collectible Pigeon Forge t-shirts and things that greet you at the door probably weren’t around then.  Our advice is to keep going until you reach an aisle.  You’re sure to find something along the shelves that will just make your mouth water.  Cookbooks from churches and organizations in the area (maybe even one by Dolly Parton herself), jams and jellies from the foothills of the Smokies, and of course flour and corn meal.

Buy a bag of flour or meal while you are at the general store, especially if you’ve never had natural corn meal or flour from a mill, not processed in some far off factory.  Stop by and watch the mill at work while it’s in operation during the day.  You’ll see the corn and wheat getting ground the old fashioned way.  You’re witness to the making of a product that has been produced in this same location since 1830. Some things never change.

History of Pigeon Forge

With such an original name, it’s no wonder that people often ask how the town of Pigeon Forge got its name. For some, the abundance of pigeons in the area at the time and a popular local iron forge will suffice. Still, for those wanting to know more about the history of Pigeon Forge, TN, we’ve dug a bit deeper, forged a few more irons, and tried to spot some pigeons.

It’s appropriate that one of the first businesses in this East Tennessee town was a furnace and iron forge, or bloomery forge, that once operated at the site of the Old Mill. Appropriate due to the burning quest of hardworking mountain settlers who forged a town out of the Smoky Mountain wilderness. Standing back and taking a good look at Pigeon Forge today, one notices the highly successful business community that sprung out of gravity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Pigeon Forge was once an area of fertile hunting grounds tracked by the Cherokee and other eastern American Indian tribes. The Treaty of Dumplin Creek, signed in the late 1700s, opened the fertile valley for settlement.

In the 1700s and early 1800s the Little Pigeon River’s banks were lined with beech trees. Beechnuts were a mainstay in the diet of Passenger Pigeons, which made the river a natural stopping point for huge flocks of the now-extinct species. Naturally, the name “Pigeon” was used as common theme that settlers of the area could identify with.

Still, Pigeon Forge wasn’t the burgeoning metropolis you might think. At the turn of the 20th century, population records show Pigeon Forge with a mere 154 residents. The year 1934 would bring about change with the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which proved to be the natural Pied Piper for tourism for towns like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

After the founding of the national park, out-of-towners became a staple in the area if not solely for the park, but also for the numerous specialty stores popping up. Hotels replaced private homes where vacationers had previously stayed. Farming still remained the area’s primary business, but that also would soon take a backseat to the tourism trade.

The sale of the first parcel of property smaller than a farm was negotiated in 1946, paving the way for the lucrative property sell-off that would come to mark the region in the decades to come. It was during that time that Pigeon Forge’s thoroughfare, the Parkway, was beginning to become populated and featured two general stores and two churches.

Pigeon Forge finally became incorporated in 1961 as the visitors came in and concrete continued to be poured. With a firmly established city government and a new Department of Tourism established in the early 80s, Pigeon Forge was turning into a vacationers dream.

New businesses, primarily tourism-related, were being recruited to the area. With all the new jobs, the population started to spike as well. As of the mid-90s, statistics indicated that Pigeon Forge had 3,975 permanent residents within the city limits. The small, peaceful community where cornfields once stood had been transformed into a bustling, two-lane city whose main thoroughfare is now six lanes wide and known as the Parkway.

But don’t let anyone fool you, the Parkway’s overhaul was nothing compared to the impact one of the county’s own had on tourism. In 1986, Sevier-native and country superstar Dolly Parton, established Dollywood as a major theme park on the site of the former Silver Dollar City. Its only competition was three hours away in Nashville and was an immediate hit with visitors. To this day it has continued to expand with 2012 bringing the new high-flying Wild Eagle roller coaster.

As far as places to stay go, if you haven’t been down here in a while you might not recognize the place. The primitive rows of stone cabins along the riverbanks have been replaced by homes and businesses. Hotel and motel rooms numbered nearly 7,750 by the late 90s and cabins, condos and villas dot the mountains surrounding town. Numerous campgrounds can be found outside town and most are equipped with features such as laundry rooms, swimming pools, picnic tables and electrical hook-ups.

The mix of restaurants in Pigeon Forge has grown from locally-owned to fast food to fine dining written about in magazines like Southern Living and featured on the Food Network. Over a dozen theaters offer a variety of performances, all delivering family-style entertainment from the oh-so-popular Dixie Stampede dinner theater to the brand new Lumberjack Feud.

Complementing the entertainment of the theaters and the array of dining establishments are more than 50 family attractions, more than 200 stores in six outlet malls and an additional local 140 craft, gift and specialty stores.

While the town continues to address issues regarding traffic congestion, which should make it a lot easier to get to Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and around Pigeon Forge it’s clear there is one continual goal –  building on the city’s rich history, literally, but it also looks toward a bright future at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Pigeon Forge, TN

Pigeon Forge, TN has become a vacation destination.  With attractions lining both sides of the streets, plenty of restaurants and fun around every corner, Pigeon Forge has grown from a small burg to a thriving town in the shadow of the Smoky mountains.  Whether you are looking for an award winning theme park or just some good shopping, Pigeon Forge has it all.

Pigeon Forge, TN

Pigeon Forge gets its name from the iron forge that was built towards the center of town and the passenger pigeons that congregated around the rivers that run from one end of the town to the other.  The area that would become Pigeon Forge was at one time a mere wide place in the trail that led from one side of the Smokies to the other.  The Cherokee had settlements, at times, in the area but it was not heavily settled until the Europeans came to the area.

By the 19th century the area had become settled and Isaac Love established a water driven iron forge that became the heart of the community.  Along with the forge, Love built a mill near the current site of the Old Mill and a health resort was established at Henderson Springs.  The town stayed small until the 50s and 60s when the traffic in Gatlinburg began to overflow into the area.  In the 60s, two brothers opened Rebel Railroad (which would eventually become Dollywood) and the now incorporated town continued to grow.

Nowadays, Pigeon Forge is as much a destination as Gatlinburg.  Pigeon Forge continues to reinvent itself as the tourist that flock to the area ask for more diverse attractions, restaurants and activities.


Most Recent Posts

  • Honda Goldwing Spring Fling - Roaring engines, whether from automobiles or motorcycles, have definitely carved out a place amongst the tourism industry in Sevier County. It’s a loud and fast growing group of motorcycle enthusiasts that all come together in April for the Tennessee Goldwing Road Riders Association Rally & Show. Honda Goldwing motorcycles riders bill get this spring get … Continue reading "Honda Goldwing Spring Fling"
  • WonderWorks - If you’re taken aback by the upside down house that rests beside the Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge, you wouldn’t be the first. WonderWorks, a combination arcade/science museum, is one of handful of Pigeon Forge attractions that not only stand out because of their rave reviews, but because of their outward appearance. Constructed to look … Continue reading "WonderWorks"
  • Dollywood - Don’t miss out on the Dollywood experience if you’re going to be coming through the Pigeon Forge/Great Smoky Mountains area during the summer. With a theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country Waterpark all on site, there’s something for everyone. Based in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is a 150-acre family adventure park open nine … Continue reading "Dollywood"
  • Dixie Stampede - The Most Fun Place to Eat in the Smokies! If there is one show that has made itself a stop for visitors to the area each and every year it is Dixie Stampede.  Dixie Stampede became the second big attraction from the owners of Dollywood and Dolly Parton herself.  The show is very simply a … Continue reading "Dixie Stampede"
  • Hatfield & McCoy’s Dinner Feud - Everyone loves a dinner show.  You get to see world class entertainment and you get to eat a great meal at the same time.  One of the most successful dinner show locations in the Smokies is the Hatfield & McCoy’s Dinner Feud.  Taking its story from the mountain families of the Hatfields and McCoys, there … Continue reading "Hatfield & McCoy’s Dinner Feud"
  • Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show - Lumberjack Feud is  now Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures. Information is maintained below for historical purposes. One of the newest entertainment venues in Pigeon Forge, TN is the Lumberjack Feud.  The Lumberjack Feud is one of the first non-musical shows in Pigeon Forge and it’s a dinner show to boot.  Their state of the art theater is … Continue reading "Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show"
  • Elvis Museum - Everyone loves the King of Rock & Roll!  In Pigeon Forge, TN, there is no shortage of Elvis memorabilia and places to get into your Elvis groove.  One of those places is the Elvis Museum in Pigeon Forge.  Combining both a museum and a theater this venue is all things Elvis and the fact that … Continue reading "Elvis Museum"
  • Gatlinburg Golf Course - Best Municipal Golf Course in all 50 States – Golf Digest With all the majestic beauty surrounding you when you visit the Smokies, it is no wonder that people choose to come to the area to spend some time on a golf course.  The majestic sweep of the mountains draw the eye to the beautiful … Continue reading "Gatlinburg Golf Course"
  • Dollywood’s Splash Country - Dollywood added on to their amusements here in the Smokies when they built Splash Country in 2001.  And though the number of months they are open each year is limited due to the climate, while they are open they are one of the best waterparks in the country.  With activities aimed at each and every … Continue reading "Dollywood’s Splash Country"
  • Country Tonite Theater - 16 Spectacular Seasons in Pigeon Forge For years, during the height of the live theater shows in Pigeon Forge, the variety show was the staple form of entertainment.  Now, you can still see variety show excellence at Country Tonite, right on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge.  Located at traffic light 1 in Pigeon Forge, Country … Continue reading "Country Tonite Theater"