28th Annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest

Draped in more than 5 million lights, Pigeon Forge creates a winter wonderland for locals and guests alike to enjoy during the city’s annual Winterfest celebration. The lights of Winterfest shine from early November through the end of February.

From winter light displays to captivating holiday shows and so much more, here are just a few of the fun ways you can experience the delightful Winterfest Celebration.

Visit Dollywood to see more than 4 million lights shine during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, when the park is filled with holiday music, plenty of rides, a nightly Parade of Lights and much more to celebrate the season. Dollywood recently announced the addition of Dolly’s Parade of Many Colors, featuring new floats, specialty characters and songs. The park also adds a new show to its entertainment lineup with the stage production It’s a Wonderful Life.

Old Mill Square features a light display depicting its own version of a covered bridge, one made of thousands of twinkling lights that lead to one of the most historic areas of Pigeon Forge. The Smoky Mountain Opry is decked out for the holiday season with giant trees, wreaths and more, all covered with sparkling lights. You might even catch Old Saint Nick making a rooftop delivery.

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede pulls out all the stops when it comes to decorating for the holidays. One of the highlights is their 60-foot-tall tree, adorned with colorful lights, ribbons and sparkling ornaments from the very bottom to the twinkling star on top. Another must-see is The Island in Pigeon Forge with all new decorations including approximately 40,000 ornaments, half a million lights and more than 5,000 feet of garland. Guests are treated to three new Christmas trees, including one that stands 40 feet tall and allows guests to walk through. Santa and Mrs. Claus greet guests at their new workshop while roving carolers fill the air with Christmas music.

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures puts a new spin on the holidays with an all-new Christmas dinner and show. This year, it is Christmas in Timber Ridge and the competition is on to see which lumber camp family is the best at growing and supplying the best Christmas trees in all the land.

And the best way to take in the beauty and splendor of all the light displays throughout Pigeon Forge is on the Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights, which begins at the north end of the Parkway.

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5th Annual Muscadine Balloon Fiesta

The 5th Annual Muscadine Balloon Fiesta will return to East Tennessee at Tsali Notch Vineyard. Enjoy balloon rides, live music, food, games, an inflatable Kid’s Zone and much more all while supporting CASA Monroe. The two-day event Balloon Fiesta begins on Saturday September 2nd from 2pm – 10pm, and runs through Sunday. September 3rd, from 2pm – 10pm. The final each night will be a Balloon Glow set to music with at least 20 colorful hot air balloons beginning at dusk. We have 20 of the most talented balloon pilots in the county excited to entertain the community.

This year the Nine Lakes Wines County is joining the Fiesta. Nine local Vineyards will be hosting a tasting event. For $10 you can buy a wristband and sample local wines.

We invite everyone to come out and join in the celebration.

Visit the site for more information.

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Farragut Football for the Win!

It’s football time in Tennessee! Time to watch your favorite high school football teams compete in a game of speed, skill, and strength. This year, the Farragut Admirals have big shoes to fill. Named the News Sentinel’s 2017 Team of the Year, the Farragut Admirals received the award after winning their first state championship in 2016. This year they’re going after the title again.

Named after the Union Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, Farragut High School was originally constructed in 1904, and moved to its current location in 1976. The school has had many successful athletes who graduated, including Bill Bates, who played with the Dallas Cowboys and University of Tennessee, Neil Clabo, who played with both the University of Tennessee and Minnesota Vikings, and Tyson Clabo, who played Wake Forest and the Atlanta Falcons. Farragut was further decorated with three awards at the field- the anchor from the USS Farragut gifted in 2006, as well as the star, also placed in 2006, and the gun.

The roster for 2017 has many fine young men on their team, like Andrew Williams, Tucker Jones, Jon Buel, Nathan Morgan, Griffin Swicegood, and Jaden Gibbs as the wide receiver/defensive back. Isaiah Gibbs is the runningback and defensive back, while Max Travis and Gavin Wilkinson act as quarterback/defensive back. Robert Brewster and Jackson Fontenot play wide receiver and outside linebacker. Jason Maw is tight end and defensive end.This is certainly not the full roster, which can be found at Farragut Football’s website, but it is a taste of what you’ll be in for as you take your seat to watch the game.

Coaching these men is Head Coach Eddie Courtney, who has served 36 years on Farragut staff. Assisting him are coaches Tom Doucette, Geoff Courtney, David Hawkins, Reese Browning, Hal Brooker, Gerald Robinson, Chris McNeer, Marcus Huie, Chase Scott, Alex Cain, and Albert Fontenot.

With an exciting line-up, fans and parents are chomping at the bit for the season to begin. You won’t have to wait long for the Varsity games. The first game is an away game on August 18th, held at and against Bradley Central. This game, and every other unless otherwise noted, starts at 7:30. The first home game is on August 31st, against Morristown West. The Junior Varsity games are played at the same place, but start at 7 rather than 7:30. The full schedule, subject to changes, is on the Farragut Football website.

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“Glamping” at Castleton Farms

Are you looking for a unique and memorable way to do teambuilding with your work crew? Trying to come up with something fun for a bachelorette party, sorority event, birthday celebration, family reunion or “Girls Weekend”? How about giving “Glamping at Castleton Farms” a try?

“Glamping” is camping without having to “rough it!” We all romanticize camping to some degree and recognize the benefits it affords for bonding and enjoyment. Images of good conversation, singing around an open fire, falling asleep under the stars, waking up to a piping hot mug of coffee, and watching the sunrise all pass through our minds – until we remember the nasty mosquitoes, hard ground, and not so hot coffee.

This past Spring Castleton Farms welcomed its first group of “glampers” on property – the Farragut Middle School Cheer Team! The team’s coach, Megan Aaron, was looking for an opportunity to bring the girls together away from their normal surroundings so they could all get to know each other better and practice in a fresh environment.

The girls arrived and were immediately busy creating their own personal space. No sleeping bags here! The Farragut Middle School Cheerleaders were each assigned a beautifully draped “room” in The Carriage House complete with a mattress, bedding, and chandelier! Their customized package included decorating supplies for them to personalize their “rooms” which was a fun project to help them get to know each other better and the perfect activity for middle school girls.

“They had such a great time, “ shared Coach Megan, “The activities and environment were perfectly planned for our group to bond and have some fun. I would recommend this experience to any group wanting to bond and create an experience no one will forget. The beauty of it is that Castleton will customize the “glamping” to suit your group’s particular style and need. And, did I mention the Farm is absolutely gorgeous?”

The next 24 hours included fun, games, bonfire, group meals, midnight snack, and even a practice session with The University of Tennessee’s cheerleader, Chelsea Harris! I think it is safe to say that fun was had by all.

“The girls are still talking about the experience!” said Coach Megan.

So, do you want to go “glamping?” Whether you’re a sports team, youth group, business colleagues, or friends needing a “Girls Night Out,” the team at Castleton would love to talk to you about your vision for your group’s night of “glamping.” Whether your goal is team building, celebrating a birthday or just making new memories, Castleton will assign you your own “Camp Director” (a.k.a. Planner) to help customize an experience that will accomplish your vision and goals.

Castleton Farms is a stunning 114 acre property complete with rolling lawns, mountain views, skeet shooting field, Manor House, The Carriage House, a covered Pavilion, pond, croquet lawn, fire pits, woods, and outdoor meeting areas. Your “Camp Director” will help you plan an itinerary that will meet your group’s needs in the best way. The possibilities are endless and we guarantee your group will have a unique experience that will keep them talking for years to come.

Why not try something new? We can’t wait to have you and your group out to the Farm for some “Glamping!” Call us today and let’s start planning your night away from it all.

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Once-In-A-Lifetime Solar Eclipse

When was the last time you saw a total solar eclipse?

Chances are, your answer to this question is going to be, “Never.” Even if you have seen a solar eclipse, the likelihood of it having been a total solar eclipse is very slim. But on August 21st, those within what is called the “path of totality” will have a chance to witness a historic event with their own (properly shielded) eyes. And it just so happens this narrow path stretching from Pacific to Atlantic runs right through Sweetwater, Tennessee.

A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, fully or partially blocking the sun’s light. According to UT Professor and Director of Space Science Outreach, Paul Lewis, what makes a total solar eclipse so special is the sun’s corona. All of those wispy trails of heat, much hotter than the surface of the sun itself, are only visible to the naked eye during a total eclipse!

The folks in Sweetwater are not taking this momentous occasion lightly—they have created an entire festival around the eclipse. Tens of thousands of people will witness history while enjoying local vendors, including crafters, artists, food vendors and much more. Souvenir t-shirts and viewing glasses will also be available. All the hotels in the area are already booked for the event, with visitors coming from all over the world to share in the spectacle. Jessica Morgan, who works for the City of Sweetwater, is excited about what this event means for the Sweetwater area. “We are looking forward to tourism dollars to spur economic development, and it’s an educational experience for students locally and regionally, something we will never forget.”

The next total solar eclipse will not happen for another seven years, and there are no guarantees the path of totality will be this close again. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to witness a scientific phenomenon, make new friends, peruse some local businesses and enjoy a fun-filled day out in Sweetwater, Tennessee.

The Solar Eclipse festival in Sweetwater is from 10am to 5pm on August 21st. Totality will begin around 2:35pm in Sweetwater and typically only lasts a couple of minutes. For more information, visit: www.sweetwatereclipse.com.

Eclipse Safety Tips

Whether you choose to watch the eclipse out in Sweetwater or from your own home, remember to always properly protect your eyes. You should never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. Viewing packages, which include a t-shirt and certified glasses, are available at http://www.sweetwatertn.net/eclipse.html. If you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own homemade viewing device using household items, like a mirror and an envelope. Resources for homemade viewers can be found at the NASA website: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/resources.

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Santa’s Hiwassee Holiday Train


The Tennessee Overhill and the Tennessee Valley Railroad are excited to announce the inaugural year for “Santa’s Hiwassee Holiday Train”. This memorable journey will take you on an incredible family adventure! If you believe in the magic of the holiday season, we invite you to board this old-fashioned train that will become a family tradition. The excursion follows along the beautiful Hiwassee River through the Cherokee National Forest. Santa will ride the train and personally greet all children, young and old. Your specialty Holiday Train ticket will include light refreshments and a keepsake souvenir for each passenger. All activities, including refreshments, storytelling and caroling will take place onboard the train. Passengers will not disembark from the train until the trip has concluded. The ride is approximately 15 miles and will last about 75 minutes. The train dates are Saturdays, November 26th and December 3rd, 10th & 17th, departing three times daily at 12 noon, 2pm & 4pm. We recommend that you arrive about 45 minutes early for boarding time. Event parking will be in front of the Savannah Oaks Winery, 404 Delano Road in Delano, south of Etowah, off 411 Hwy. There will be a short bus trip to the train boarding station.

Becky at the Depot 423-263-7840 Nancy at the Overhill 423-263-7232 www.tvrail.com.

Saturdays, November 26th, December 3rd, 10th & 17th Departing three times daily at 12 noon, 2pm & 4pm.

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