Monday, August 29, 2011

Harvest Festival 2011

September is here and Autumn is on its coattails as we get ready to celebrate the Harvest Festival here in the East Tennessee section of the Smoky Mountains. The colors, the cooler temperatures and the atmosphere in general is something you can just drink in as you walk around the city of Gatlinburg between now and November.

There are a lot of great reasons to visit the Smokies during Harvest Festival - and here they are:

Taste of Autumn
Location: Gatlinburg Convention Center
Description: The Taste of Autumn has been Gatlinburg's tastiest charity event for 13 years. A $25 donation will give you access to food from all kinds of vendors with the best food in town at the huge W.L. Mills Auditorium. All proceeds go to the United Way of Sevier County.
Start Date: September 15th
End Date: September 15h
Link Out:

Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament
Location: Gatlinburg Convention Center
Description: This popular event is hosted by Rocky Top Outfitter and is open to children as well as adults, visitors as well as local. Admission prices apply.
Start Date: September 24th
End Date: September 25th
Link Out:

Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg
Location: Ober Gatlinburg
Description: German food and German fun on top of the world for the Fall Season! Get in early and join in the music, dancing and everything else Ober Gatlinburg has to offer
Start Date: September 30th
End Date: October 30th
Link Out:

Ripley's Fright Nights
Location: Ripley's Haunted Adventure
Description: An entire month of screams, frights and thrills to celebrate Halloween in Gatlinburg. Character parades, the living dead, and things you better say your prayers to prepare for.
Start Date: October 1st
End Date: October 31st
Link Out:

Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair
Location: W.L. Mills Convention Center
Description: Artists and Crafters local and from hundreds of miles around gather at the Gatlinburg Convention Center where over 120 booths and all kinds of handcrafted items, plus the artists, are on display.
Start Date: October 6th
End Date: October 23rd
Link Out:

Trick or Treat Kick off Karnival
Location: Downtown Gatlinburg
Description: From Noon to 3 P.M. Gatlinburg will celebrate Halloween with the Gatlinburg Police Department and Gatlinburg Fire Department working in conjunction to offer a safe, family fun filled trip for everyone!
Start Date: October 31st
End Date: October 31st
Link Out:

Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff
Location: Downtown Gatlinburg
Description: Offering mouth-watering recipes of homemade chili ranging from mild and delightful to wild and adventurous, the City of Gatlinburg celebrates the start of Winter with an awesome Chili Cookoff! Bring admission and a lot of napkins.
Start Date: November 9th
End Date: November 9th
Link Out:

Trolley Ride of Lights
Location: Downtown Gatlinburg
Description: Visitors can soak up the spirit of the season from the comfort of a Gatlinburg Trolley by taking the relaxing Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights. These are popular guided excursions that are sure to become a tradition.
Start Date: November 9th
End Date: January 30th
Link Out:
Mark your calendars and build your itineraries because it's going to be an awesome Autumn for the Smoky Mountains!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Plan a Trip to Cherokee, North Carolina

Have you been across the National Park to Cherokee, NC? Cherokee is a sort of bookend to Gatlinburg and well worth a day trip visit out.

Cherokee is located on the other side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the Spur, on the same highway that the Sugarlands Visitor Center is on. From there, it is an hour's drive through the National Park, across THE most gorgeous scenery in the Tennessee Smokies (and over a dozen stopping-parking spots to take pictures, several hiking trails and plenty of picnicking opportunities), from the tops of the hills and then down again at the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center, which is your sign that you're 3-5 minutes away from Cherokee.

Once inside, you can go straight, take a turn left, or stop at the Arcade/Fun Center right at the gates into the town if the kids are getting antsy or you need a good place to stretch your legs a bit. Going left will take you to some hotels, some restaurants and some shopping alongside another arcade and fun center. Going straight will take you straight into the heart of the town. Cherokee is fairly small (about the size of Gatlinburg) and it's pretty hard to get lost.

From there are plenty of things to do from the aforementioned Arcades/Fun Centers to more cultural items of interest, like the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center, which offers a walking trail, historical architecture, and some exhibits on Appalachian culture from the old days, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which is, appropriately, the authority on Cherokee history and information with hundred of exhibits and excellent video presentations throughout the tour, the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which is a working Cherokee Indian Village meant to show you what life back in 1760 was like for the Cherokee Indians, and Unto These Hills, a dramatic production high in the hills showcasing the story of Tsali and more history plus incredible musical numbers.

Cherokee also features an island park where kids can wade in the Oconaluftee river or a canal in the center of the park plus a large, unique bamboo grove full of photo opportunities. If you have kids who like to skate, take them to the free skate park. If all else fails, Harrah's Cherokee Casino is a huge facility with entertainment like you can't get for miles and miles around.

Cherokee, NC is a little town with a lot to offer, so if you're looking for something different and you want to see a lot of gorgeous Smoky Mountain scenery on the way there, plan a day trip out and you won't be disappointed.

To get to Cherokee from Gatlinburg, take the Gatlinburg Bypass from the Spur (just 2 minutes before you reach the city from Pigeon Forge) and keep on straight for roughly an hour.

All pictures are copyright Ge'ne L. K. Lawhead