15 Things You Didn’t Know About Ober Gatlinburg

Initial reports stated that Ober Gatlinburg was destroyed by the November 2016 Wildfires. Kate Barido, Sales & Marketing Director for the only ski resort in Tennessee reflected on the night, days following and past year….

“We had people on property through the night, immediately we made contact with the agencies and news groups to correct this misinformation. Our primary concern was to locate our employees to make sure they were safe, clothed, housed and paid”.

“The impressive first responders, police force, firefighters, city workers and school employees managed to get our community functioning as quickly as possibly restoring a “new normal” and also restoring our faith in teamwork and the true meaning of community”.

We are the only Ski Area in Tennessee, as the southern-most ski slope in the United States, it is a convenient stop for winter fun.

Events are scheduled all the time to give you access to the slopes. Bonus: College Night and Ladies’ Night offer great discounts. We also give discounts to active and veteran military as well as free passes for children under 5 with a parent or guardian.

We have hosted the Special Olympics Tennessee Winter Games for 33 years. We are proud to participate in this wonderful organization. This fantastic event is something we look forward to all year.

We are open during all holidays. Make new traditions with your family by planning a visit during a holiday for a festive change of pace.

We feel incredibly grateful that our Downtown Office, Amusement Park, and the Trams and all of the Tram Towers were NOT affected by the 2016 Wildfires. We are so fortunate that we are still able to contribute to local tourism.

Our Trams are Swiss Built by a company called Von Roll. Trams actually provide one of the safest means of transportation available, and ours provide some of the most breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains possible. Each ride takes approximately 10 minutes and is a unique experience.

The Trams mean more accessibility – since Gatlinburg is in the valley, driving conditions are typically more stable throughout the winter. Getting up the mountain can be dangerous, and the Tram offers a much safer, not to mention beautiful, solution.

You can spend all day at Ober’s many activities. Families love spending extended periods of time on all the attractions, even if winter sports are not your thing. There is fun available at Ober Gatlinburg all year round. If our facilities are open, ice skating, the arcade, a full-service restaurant and bar, shopping and our carousel are available. The Alpine Slide, Ski Mountain Coaster, Maze, Chair Swing and Scenic Lift are open any day the weather permits.

Snow is not artificial – it is machine made and there’s a difference! We are proud of our Snow Making system which is one of the most advanced systems in the world. Water droplets freeze as they fall through the cold air that the machines generate. The water droplets are frozen to create a “puff” of snow treated with a protein called “Snowmax” that allow it to last longer than natural snowflakes.

The animals in our wildlife encounter are rescued and unfortunately are no longer able to survive in the wild. They are given the best life we can give them and are well fed, and well taken care of. One of the bears is even a retired movie star! He was featured in several commercials. These days, though, he enjoys lounging by his pond.

Skiers and Snow Boarders from novice to expert can enjoy the slopes. With 10 Trails and multiple lifts, there are plenty of places to explore, and Mogul Ridge is a challenge for even the avid skiers and boarders. Families who are new to skiing can also take advantage of the Gatlinburg Snowsports Center group and individual lessons. After School Weekday Programs are available for beginner and intermediate students. They offer fantastic rates that provide lift tickets, equipment and helmet rentals, and lessons as a package. Don’t forget, in January, we celebrate “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.”

You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy Ober, though. 4/5 people are not skiing, which means they are spending their time on the mountain enjoying the many other activities.

Even if you are not into the “attractions” of Ober, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and appreciate nature and the unique views of the Smokies. There are also opportunities to connect with your spiritual side with services held on the mountain.

OktOBERfest is Legit! Ober Gatlinburg just finished celebrating Oktoberfest. Every year from Mid September to the end of October, Bavarian-Style Cuisine takes over the Seasons of Ober Restaurant, as well as an Oompah Band in authentic costume, and Bier Garden featuring specialty Oktoberfest beer and foods.

The Back In Blue Rail Jam event means the start of the winter sports season! We can’t wait to get tubing, skiing, snowboarding and winter merriment underway!

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The Lodge At Buckberry Creek

The rocking chair by definition is an ordinary chair set atop rockers to provide relaxation while it moves back and forth. One could only imagine the countless hours of relaxation provided by rocking chairs, however no one would imagine the role a single rocking chair would have following the Gatlinburg Wildfires of 2016.

At the end of World War II, the newly incorporated town of Gatlinburg was starting to buzz again. The McLean Family often journeyed from Knoxville to take in the magnificence of the mountains and the people making this promising place unique. In 1945 with a dream to open a hotel, the McLean family purchased 180 mountainside acres. The family granted 80 of those acres to the National Park providing a roadway which is today the Gatlinburg Bypass. There were many developments to those purchased acres with the most infamous 26.6 acres gaining life in 2005 with a creekside pavilion, five buildings and numerous rocking chairs.

With generations of love for these Mountains it was an exciting time for Buddy McLean, his brother James and longtime friend & designer, Jeanie Johnson as they embarked on sharing these mountains with the world. The quest to merge past with present took them to the research the ElkmontCommunity of the Great Smoky Mountains and the great camps of the Adirondack Mountains in New York.

Just like the back and forth of a rocking chair, those great camps mixed a back in time enjoyment of getting away in the outdoors with the forward time enjoyment of luxurious bedding, fine dining and social prominence.

The labor of love that began in 2003 was realized as the Adirondack style met Southern Charm in 2005 at the opening of The Lodge at Buckberry Creek.

The first year, The Lodge at Buckberry Creek welcomed guests to 44 well appointed, luxury suites inviting them to embrace the natural surroundings. Guests enjoyed walking to the Creekside pavilion along the hiking trail, relaxing in a rocking chair while gazing at the breathtaking view of Mt. LeConte and ending the day with exquisitely prepared fine dining. Attention to detail was given each suite, extensive training to every staff member, from the moment a guest pulled onto the property it was purposed to meet their every need.

Their mission accomplished and recognized as the year closed with the prestigious AAA 4-Diamond being awarded to these good stewards of mountain legacy. Buddy reflected on this moment stating it was”an Overwhelming Acceptance of Our Vision”.

The Lodge at Buckberry Creek was the first in Gatlinburg to receive this award and have achieved it annually since 2005.

That vision grew to The Lodge at Buckberry Creek becoming the premier resort of Gatlinburg hosting events for the National Park Service and their dignitaries. They welcomed 2nd Century Park Commissioners; Sandra Day O’Connor and Howard Baker during the anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There would be many national, local & state dignitaries as well as numerous celebrities enjoying the Lodge, but the most special to Buddy, Jeanie and James was the opportunity to host Casting for Recovery, a joint effort with 25 volunteers to grant 14 ladies a weekend of Buckberry, Fly Fishing and the Great Smoky Mountains during a difficult time in their life. The Lodge was the first in the state to host this special event and continued the tradition for 10 years. Buddy said,” It was an honor to be a small part”. The ladies enjoyed sitting in the rocking chairs by the fire making s’mores, learning to cast a fly rod on the front lawn and embracing the history of the memorabilia within the main lodge.

Each day at the Lodge at Buckberry Creek was a continuation of the legacy birthed in 1945. Seventy-one years of McLean family heritage, twelve years of welcoming the world to sit in a rocking chair at this mountain paradise would all change in one hour of time. At approx. 8 pm on Monday, November 28, 2016 the fire that started over a week prior in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reached the Lodge at Buckberry Creek in Gatlinburg. With hurricane force winds reaching 90 miles per hour, the fire storm engulfed the property. The decisive actions of Event Manager Ellie Morgan and Executive Chef Jason Milanich resulted in the safe evacuation of all guests and staff. The priceless family heirlooms, historical memorabilia and buildings were consumed to ashes.

In the days following the wildfire it would become known that one building survived, the lodging building known as “The Woods”. Buddy McLean, Janet McLean and Jeanie Johnson made the trek to inspect the property. As they walked the remains of the buildings, now just ashes, they glanced at Mt. LeConte noting the famous view had remained. In the distance they could see a single rocking chair with a simple burnt scar on the leg. The fire burned so hot it consumed all in its path, but this rocking chair remained. The rocking chair was in a favorite spot for guests to gather, it is easy to imagine that every guest had either sat or stood by that rocking chair. Buddy took a seat and began to rock as the weight of what had occurred was taking a physical toll. In that moment of reflection the rocking chair took him back to where it all started and forward to embracing hope with each rocking motion. The survival of the rocking chair meant that the past could not be erased, hope was restored and the future was inspired.

As the world around Gatlinburg learned of the devastation at The Lodge at Buckberry Creek, the outpouring of love, support and hope for the future became louder than the media of the wildfire event. Countless emails, messages and hand written letters of support, love and memories were received. Within 48 hours, Casting for Recovery called to pledge a fundraiser for Buckberry staff support. Over 10,000 social media messages made it clear the mission of the McLean Family was accomplished and appreciated, the true mountain gem would have to shine again!

Although the rebuild would take time to organize, Buddy, Jeanie and James knew they had one building to offer guests. With much consideration given to respecting the past, present and future the journey to open the surviving building began with the cleaning of debris, painting of the foundations remaining from lost structures and construction of a fence around a new gathering place for the rocking chairs. It was a great task cleaning the accommodations and repairing the landscaping but in June 2017, the first building constructed on the property so many years ago reopened. Since the opening, guests have been embracing the opportunity with each other and nature found while lodging at The Woods at Buckberry Lodge. “They are back, not full capacity but we had a relaxing week, we will be back” noted a repeat guest on the service, views and accommodations being just as they remembered. “Rocking chair, rocking babies, rock-a –bye, rock of ages side by side will be together always”. In the time since the wildfire those lyrics give song to the legacy of The Lodge at Buckberry Creek. The rocking chair invites you to take a seat, embrace the surroundings, rock a little and rise with a smile. For years those chairs rocked guests as they made s’mores, talked about adventures of the day, and made new friends. The rocking chair, a symbol that memories could not be erased but would carry on through the ages as generations share the memories of yesterday and the possibilities of tomorrow while they rock together gazing at the magnificent mountains. The opportunity to see the Buckberry Rocking Chair and the amazing view of Mt. Leconte awaits at the The Lodge at Buckberry Creek. The surviving building “The Woods” is open for lodging reservations. Contact 865-430-8030 or inquiries@buckberrylodge.com for details. While you’re there take a seat in the rocking chair and smile knowing though the ashes of life’s worst burn you will rise, no matter the scar or number of times you are rocked, there will always be the rise.

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The Legend of Coco Belle

Back in 1959, Esther Gray and her late husband Sanford purchased an unusual bit of Coker Creek history. It wasn’t a nugget of gold, a pottery jar or an arrowhead, but a grave site.

And it wasn’t just any grave site. This grave site was, and is still believed by many, to be the century-old burial place of Coker Creek’s legendary Indian maiden, Coco Belle.

History credits Coco Belle with trying to keep peace between the white-man and the Indians during the early 1800’s, before Coker Creek became a part of the infamous Trail of Tears. Over 4,000 of the 17,000 Indians died from hunger, disease and freezing weather during the 1838 and 1839 march out West.

It is said that Coco Belle made the trip several times to aid her fellow Indians on the long journey and to help them establish new homes upon their arrival out West.

But one question still remained: Is Coco Belle really buried in that immortalized grave in Coker Creek?

“We always believed that an Indian was buried there and it has always been said in the community that it was Coco Belle’s grave,” says Esther.

Today, the grave site is marked by stones piled waist-high in a wooded area on Esther’s property fronting Highway 68 in the middle of Coker Creek. The grave is situated on the side of what was once known as Hot Water Hill, but in more recent times has come to be called Coco Belle Ridge by adjoining property owners. Cabins and roads have been constructed nearby but the grave has remained intact.

When the Grays purchased the grave site in 1959, it was part of a 160-acre parcel the couple eventually turned into the Tellico Mountain Youth Camp. Records show that in the years before the Grays purchased it, the land had passed through the hands of three other families and one gold mining company.

There was already plenty of folk-lore surrounding the grave site when Esther and Sanford Gray made the purchase. They were especially aware of the time-honored tradition of tossing stones on the grave and the consequences of removing them.

“The saying was that for good luck you throw a rock on the grave and for bad luck you take a rock off,” explains Esther. For their young, curious campers, the temptation was often too much.

“We had two or three instances where little boys didn’t believe it and they took a rock off,” she says. “They took one off and sure enough they fell down or scraped a knee or something and we reminded them of that saying,” she says with a grin.

It is not known where the rock-tossing tradition originated but it is said that Coco Belle herself may have made the request before she died.

Esther, now 86, says that while it was rumored that the previous owners of the property had allowed the directors of a museum in Knoxville to excavate the grave, she and her husband saw no evidence of that happening. “The stones were still piled on it when we bought it,” Esther stated.

Some historians believe that in her later years, Coco Belle married a white settler named John Coker and that she went by the name of Betsy Coker for the rest of her life. She and her husband are said to have started a small store in Coker Creek which catered to travelers on the Unicoi Turnpike, a popular wagon trail which ran through Coker Creek.

When the Grays sold a portion of the 160 acre tract 20 years ago, they decided not to sell the little 16 by 40 foot strip of land making up the grave site. Esther said her late husband wanted the grave of Coker Creek’s best known Indian maiden preserved. “We were glad to have it and to be able to take care of it.” Esther said.

The Grays closed Tellico Mountain Camp back in 1988. During the years since her husband’s death a decade ago, she has passed up the offers of those wanting to buy the grave site, fearing that the hallowed ground might be lost forever to roadways or home-sites.

Even today, with the site of the old Tellico Mountain Camp property up for sale and the adjoining grave site to be sold with it, Esther is concerned about the grave. “I would like to see the grave site preserved and I hope that whoever buys the property will want to see it preserved too,” adds Esther.

For now, Coco Belle’s final request appears to have been honored. The stones remain piled high over her grave and her legend lives on in the little community of Coker Creek.

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Smokey Mountain Service Dogs

Many see the needs around them, but never put actions to their desire to help. In 2010, Mike and Susie Kitchens saw a large need in their community and decided to help those who had nearly given their all to our country. With a vision and a strong desire to change lives, Smoky Mountain Service Dogs organization was established.

What started as two puppy labrador retrievers and a few volunteers, has grown into the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit, accredited Assistance Dogs International organization headquartered in Tennessee and the surrounding 12 states that utilizes nearly 100 volunteers. Smoky Mountain Service Dogs is an organization dedicated to serving those who so bravely gave to our country and have sacrificed physically or psychologically that now need mobility assistance in their daily lives. SMSD is dedicated to one simple goal: “To enhance the physical and psychological quality of life for wounded Veterans by providing custom trained mobility assistance service dogs (at no cost to the Veteran).”

On July 20, 2018, the organization “Passed the Leash” to their 20th Veteran recipient and their second female veteran to receive a canine companion. The process of training and receiving a dog from SMSD is a labor of love, and quite a diligent process. Dogs are trained by world renowned canine program manager, Heather Wilkerson. Her experience includes training police dogs and working extensively on search and rescue missions all over the world. Lead trainer, Susan Travis, and staff trainer, Kassie Krause, complete the list of the only paid employees in the organization. The SMSD business model allows 95% of all donations to go directly towards fulfilling the mission of enhancing lives of those they serve. In the 1800-2500 hours and $25,000 it takes to train a dog for service to a veteran, nearly 100 sets of hands will have worked with each dog to ensure they are ready to aid their new warrior. The extensive application process is open to any Veteran that qualifies for mobility assistance. SMSD founder, Mike Kitchens, said the organization is happy to have aided many Veterans in the East Tennessee and Middle Tennessee regions. “When we began this organization, I was amazed to see that there were so many Veterans who needed help right in our backyard.”

How can you be a part of this life changing organization? SMSD is kicking off their campaign, “More Wags for Warriors” in October at their Annual “Night for Patriots” fundraising event that will be held this year at The Venue in Lenoir City. This extremely patriotic night will include dinner, a silent auction and testimonials from those who have experienced first hand the life changing effects that are results of a canine companion from SMSD. Special guests will be Wayne and Debbie Kyle, parents of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle. They will be presenting the organization with a $225,000 donation as the 2017 recipient of the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit. This money will be used to help jump start the building of the SMSD new canine training facility on the organization’s existing training grounds in Lenoir City located off of Highway 321. The new facility will provide more room for training and new training technology so more dogs can continue to change lives. Volunteers are always needed for simple tasks such as raising funds or being a weekend helper with dogs in training.

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs organization is a reminder that dogs and desires to better our community can successfully go hand in hand. One dog and one Veteran at a time, lives and the legacy of them, can be changed forever. For more information about SMSD, how to apply for a canine companion, how to volunteer, or how to buy tickets for this year’s Night of Patriots Annual Fundraiser, visit www.smokymountainservicedogs.org

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Great Plates For Summer

Dining out is a great way to experience new cuisine and enjoy a meal with family and friends. Farragut Life Magazine would like to suggest a few great plates this summer. First Watch has a Bacon Egg Benedict that is good for breakfast or lunch. All of their food is made fresh and they now have 4 locations in Knoxville. Lakeside Tavern has a great shrimp salad for lunch or dinner, we also love their half price wine on Monday nights. Rick’s Dockside Grill at Tellico Marina in Vonore is a summertime favorite. This summer they are open for lunch and dinner. Great food and entertainment. Jump on the boat or drive to Vonore for the best tacos we could find! All these restaurants have wonderful food and you can enjoy the weather outside or stay cool indoors.

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Farragut Middle School Swim Team

Though the spotlight for high school sports might always be on the grand spectacle that is American Football, other sports hold just as much meaning to the students, coaches, and parents who participate. Though void of many of the grandeur of the Friday night lights, these sports develop a sense of teamwork and the spirit of competition that will last a lifetime. For those on the Farragut Swim Team, this is no exception.

The Farragut Swim Team was formed with the sole intention of developing swimming skills in young students. Although the ability to make an open field tackle or to kick a soccer ball with the perfect amount of weight might be useful on the field, swimming offers a unique skill that serves as a trait that has the potential to save lives, making it arguably the most useful sport in terms of lifelong practicality. The Farragut Swim Team has grown incredibly in the past decade, both in the number of swimmers and its quality. The Middle School Team, which was established 5 years ago, has since blossomed and now showcases over 60 of Farragut Middle School’s best. Development at a young age is key, and many of these swimmers will go on to practice and compete on the High School team and beyond. In fact, many of the Farragut Swim Team’s senior swimmers have gone on to swim at the college level.

Brenda McGrath, the team manager for the past five years, has played an integral role in developing the program to the high standards of competition that it showcases today. “We know how important it is to develop the skills of swimming at a young age, so we try to make the process as competitive as possible. We attempt to follow all TSSAA standards. Doing so makes for a more competitive and overall productive environment for our swimmers.“ Brenda has had a hand in all aspects of the team: from coaching selections to organization of meets, but knows it’s a group effort. “I cannot express how valuable the parents of our kids are. Anyone who has been to a swim meet knows it can be sheer chaos at times: without the parents and their dedication to the team this would not be possible.” Coaching is also a huge part of what makes the Farragut Swim Team jive. Head coach Cameron Higdon, who swam at the college level, has been coaching the team for 2 years now. “Cameron is a wonderful coach and leader for our teams”, says Brenda. “We have had the luxury of some great coaches throughout my time as manager for the team.”

The Farragut Swim season starts after Labor Day, with team practices 3 times a week (2 per week for the middle school) for the duration of the season. Meets are held on Sundays at the UT Aquatic Center, giving a grand setting for the nearly 100 competing students. The team competes in standard swimming competitions, as well as diving competitions. The team holds meets against universal rivals such as Bearden, Hardin Valley, and Maryville.

Those who wish to experience these competitions are welcome to come out and show your support!

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Find Your Next Adventure At Tapoco Lodge

Named after Tallahassee Power Company

The Tallassee Power Company began construction of the first of five dams in 1916. The Tapoco Lodge was built by the Aluminum Company of America as part of the hydroelectric efforts in Graham and Swain counties of North Carolina. The lodge itself was used for company functions while the town of Tapoco on the property provided housing for hundreds of dam workers.

If you love the outdoors and adventure, Tapoco Lodge is for you! In 1930, the Tapoco Lodge was built in the Nantahala National Forest to house workers for hydroelectric dams. Now that lodge is a dream spot for active vacationers.

The area around Tapoco Lodge offers 10 miles of hiking trails for all experience levels, as well as paths for mountain and road biking. Prefer to fly instead of walk? There are several ziplines in the area!

For water lovers, fly fishing is available on lodge property, and lake fishing and boating are also available at lakes nearby. If you are looking for a different sort of adventure, Cheoah and Nantahala Rivers offer whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking.

On calmer days, you can visit the Cheoah Dam, featured in the movie The Fugitive, the Kilmer Memorial Forest or take a scenic drive on the Cherohala Skyway. Adventurous drivers can also explore the popular winding road known as The Dragon, which will keep you on your toes with its 318 curves in 11 miles.

Tapoco Lodge has rooms varying from spacious lodge suites to cabin rooms with scenic views. Private areas are available on the property for retreats, meetings or weddings. Book your stay now by visiting http://www.tapocolodge.com.

Tapoco Tavern

Perched on the banks of the world famous Cheoah River, Tapoco Tavern combines the very best of classic pizzeria and all-American flavors with a view and environment unmatched in all

of Western Carolina. Order up a brick oven pizza for the family or indulge in the house favorite, “The Dam Drink” from our full-service bar. From steaks, burgers, salads, hummus and local Carolina Mountain trout, there’s something for everyone.

New for 2016 – Our Tapoco Tavern has been renovated and expanded. Now offering a full lunch and dinner menu. We have plenty of indoor seating, or relax at the outdoor riverfront tables. Private room available for groups.

Call ahead for pickup at 828.498.2800.

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Mignonne’s Stew

(serves 8-10)

2 cups Port Wine
6 cups Water
4 tbsp. Wyler’s Beef Granules
2 Bay Leaves
1 tbsp. Oregano
1 tbsp. Thyme
1 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper
1/2 tsp. Salt
15-20 Pearl Onions
3 1/2 lbs. London Broil
All-Purpose Flour
Olive Oil
1 Medium Sweet Onion, cut into thin slices
2 lbs. Carrots, sliced
3 1/2 lbs. Russet Potatoes, cubed

1. In an 8-quart pot, on low heat, combine the port wine, water, Wyler’s Beef Granules, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper, salt and pearl onion and let begin warming.

2. Sprinkle the meat generously (to your liking) with oregano, thyme and Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper. Cut the meat into pieces slightly larger than bite-sized and sprinkle with all-purpose flour.

3. Brown the meat in a pan with olive oil and sweet onion. Once the meat is browned, add everything in the pan to the 8-quart pot. Bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat down. Cover and let simmer for 3 hours.

4. Add the carrots and potatoes and bring to a medium boil for 1 hour.

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Independence Day Inspiration

Ben Finch of Finch Photo recently collaborated with Castleton Farms to create an amazing wedding photo shoot inspired by the 4th of July. Castleton Farms, established in 2009, is the premier wedding venue in East Tennessee.

The photo shoot took place at the Woodland Gardens. With a stone aisle surrounded by tall trees strung together with lights, it is the perfect place to say “I do”! Ben shot Rachel wearing a beautiful, sleeveless gown accented with an ornate, jeweled belt. Her style was created by Rachel Ridner and Kelly Schmid, and her hair was styled by Bangs and Blush.

The couple kissed under a natural wooden arbor decorated with white fabric and surrounded by lit candles. Sarah’s bouquet of red peonies was matched by the flowers hung over the arbor, arranged by The Katelier Florist.

The shoot continued with several pictures of the couple with an American Flag, facing each other in a vintage rowboat, and sharing a kiss on a beach bicycle. For the inspirational reception, Cakery Bakery featured a tiered cake decorated in strawberries and blueberries, paired with ice cold lemonade in mason jars.

Bliss, Coldstream Market and All Occasions Party Rentals collaborated to turn Woodland Gardens into a patriotic reception, including a cozy couch between antique wing-backed chairs. Carnations sat in vases of glass bottles and refreshments were served on a reclaimed wooden table. Creative invitations were provided by Liddabits Products.

Ben’s children, Brennan, Knox and Molly Finch, are featured with Rachel and Joey, and added some family fun to the inspirational shoot. Through the collaboration of Finch Photo, Castleton Farms, and many others, the photo shoot was a big success!

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The Farragut: Town, Admiral and Pride of the U.S. Navy

On November 7th, 2015, the USS Farragut Destroyer (DDG-99) returned from her 8-month deployment. Friends and families stood on the dock at the Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida, to welcome the crew home. They arrived just in time to celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th with their families.

At 509 feet long and weighing in at just over 9,000 tons, the USS Farragut was commissioned in June of 2006 and can accommodate almost 300 officers and sailors.

The USS Farragut Destroyer is an Arleigh Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyer, detailing the type of Destroyer and the kind of missiles it is built to carry. The ship’s official motto is “Prepared for Battle”.

The USS Farragut is the 5th ship to be named after Admiral David Farragut, who was the first Naval Officer to become a Rear Admiral. Born near the Holston River in July of 1801, just a few miles from Campbell Station, Admiral Farragut is admired for his bravery in the face of battle and his commitment to the United States Navy.
His service to his country also inspired the name of our city!

The Chapel at the Naval Academy in Annapolis has memorialized Admiral Farragut in a beautiful stained-glass window. The window shows a portrait of him in uniform lashed to the rigging on his ship, surrounded in smoke, holding binoculars in his left hand. Along the bottom frame of the window are the words Aug 5 MOBILE BAY 1846.

Admiral Farragut became a midshipman in the Navy at just nine years old. He spent several years on the sea fighting pirates and raiders in the Caribbean. He rapidly rose in Naval ranks, serving on the USS Essex and later assuming command of the USS Ferret. During the Mexican-American War, he commanded the USS Saratoga. It was not until he took command of the USS Hartford, however, that Admiral Farragut would be remembered throughout history for his bravery.

The Battle of Mobile Bay is remembered as a pivotal point in the Civil War. The Confederacy used the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River to move troops and supplies inland. The Union sought to take control of the port to block the supplies, sending several ships upriver to secure a victory. Mobile Bay was heavily mined with ‘torpedos’ that destroyed several of the Union’s Naval ships. Admiral Farragut lashed himself to the rigging of his ship so he could see above the gunsmoke and ordered his crew to sail the USS Hartford forward, despite the risk.

“Damn the torpedos!” is his famous line in the heat of battle, and the Union fleet took control of the port just hours later. His success at Mobile Bay became the defining moment in his Naval career. In December of 1864, Admiral Farragut became the first U.S. Officer in history to be given the title Admiral of the American Navy. He was the leader and commander of all Naval forces until his death in 1870.

Admiral Farragut’s tactical skill and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds attributed to his success. He is memorialized in the Naval Chapel, and his legacy lives on the active ships in the U.S. Naval fleet. His birthplace will be forever remembered in our town of Farragut in East Tennessee.

I would like to dedicate this article to the brave men and women serving our country. To my father, Lieutenant Commander Jeff Hoadley, and my brother, Midshipmen First Class William Hoadley. Thank you for protecting our freedom.

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