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Chan Cham Perou

Sevierville, Tennessee —  Kids don’t shout, they yell with joy! They don’t run, they frolic! They don’t cry, they laugh! Parents, out of breath, rejoice and fall asleep as quickly as their dear little ones! This is what might be called a successful family holiday! Just as long as you love to have a ball and can set aside your worries once in a while. During the holiday season or spring break, Sevierville, Tennessee is a bit like Las Vegas for kids.

If you love country music and are a Dolly Parton fan – it’s her country, after all - and enjoy horse shows, you’ll be in heaven! Of course, you have to appreciate - or at least be curious about - the extravagant excitement of Americans in shows, their joie de vivre and display of patriotism.

Upon reading this reportage, Euphoria’s faithful readers will most likely be as surprised as we were and should tell themselves that it is sometimes very nice to let our childish side prevail…

For those looking for wilderness and a quieter environment, the Great Smoky Mountains are very close by and offer many rejuvenating discoveries, through endless hikes in an unrestrained nature, or a rest in the beautiful lodges and chalets that compete to offer the most spectacular scenery. Giant zip lines also offer adrenaline in high doses.

Let’s start with action for the whole family!

A “hotel/amusement park”

Assuming you did your homework and know exactly the type of hotel this is, the Wilderness at the Smokies hotel is lively dream. Immense, almost new with 700 rooms, and built around kilometers of hallways, indoor as well as outdoor, it allows people of all ages to get everywhere between 6 in the morning until midnight wearing only a bathing suit and a towel.
The hotel is totally dedicated to family amusement on a huge scale with its gigantic aquatic complex, including slides and spirals, falls, a river and a surf and wave pool. Arcades, climbing walls and tunnels where Hare and Hounds games unfold - supervised and secured by experienced monitors - complete the picture.

In a social media age, your stay here will provide an unlimited mine of photo souvenirs for your own “wall”. And why not pay to get an action photo taken in the water or in the air? Chris Fortune had the brilliant idea of creating the waterproof Action Bracelet. You wear it and it takes as many photos as you want, transmitting them automatically to your cell phone. Choosing the best ones and sharing them through social media is all you have to do!

Between pirouettes

Kids will enjoy quieter moments at the ceramic workshop. For adults, it will be at the quiet gym. And for everybody there’s the large candy shop with ice cream, donuts, cotton candy and every other sweet you can imagine – for more energy, of course… after all, why not fully enjoy it!

Of course, the hotel has a restaurant, the Thirsty Miner, offering three meals a day, although the rooms are all equipped with a kitchenette – quite useful with kids – to answer any urgent cravings for food.

In summary, the complex offers an all-inclusive holiday for many families who simply will not want to leave. Even though there are many things to be done and seen close by!

Dollywood

Another must with the family is the Dollywood Attraction Park. Generous and fun, it is representative of Dolly Parton. Classical with its dozens of rides – its most recent one, the Wild Eagle, is a real killer - Dollywood has been created in homage to Dolly Parton, who had a say about every activity offered, ensuring that it is in line with her artistic and human values.

To give you an idea of the size of the park, 3 days are required to entirely visit its 35 acres. 2,500 people, mostly retired, welcome the three million a year visitors. From mid-November to February, four million lights shine in Sevierville and Gatlinburg during the Light Festival and the holiday season.

Dolly Parton’s fans and others take great pleasure in visiting the replica of her small family house, showing the on-the-breadline environment in which she was raised with her 11 brothers and sisters. A museum also displays her numerous costumes and wigs, photo souvenirs and illustrations of her values: Dream More, Learn More, Care more, Be more.

When one says Dolly, one says showtime! The park has a few halls, one of them puts the spotlight on members of Dolly’s family and friends present on stage, with the star herself on screen, a potpourri of her hits chosen among the 3,000 songs she wrote.
Dollywood closes its doors between January 5 and Mid-March.

Dolly, a literary patron

An unknown side of Dolly Parton is unveiled here. She is of course showcased as a star born and still residing in Sevierville, but also as an important patron on the local, national and international scene. Mostly through her Imagination Library Foundation, which, since 1996 has been aimed at developing a love of reading among children from one year old to kindergarten – sending one book a month to families.

To say that this caught on is an understatement: as of today, close to 50 million books have been given to 711,000 kids in 1,600 towns in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

Dolly also helps other foundations dedicated to research about cancer, juvenile diabetes, helping American soldiers achieve the dream of a lifetime, and helping dogs and the American eagle, an endangered species.

A true American odyssey

The Dixie Stampede show is quite amazing. First, for its cowboys and Indians riding or conducting chariots and stagecoaches in a display of lights, sequins and flags. Second, for the interaction with the crowd. And mostly for its grand finale, with Dolly singing the iconic and patriotic “Red, White and Bluegrass” on a screen worthy of an Olympic stadium…

Of course, one has to like the genre or play the game! Three musicians playing banjo, guitar and contrabass prepare the crowd and energize the ambiance with pure Bluegrass or revisited rock and disco classics in a country style in another room prior to the main show.

Just imagine the kitchens! They have to feed 1,000 people with a 5-course menu - very copious, hot and delicious - in an hour and a quarter and the show is presented 5 times a day at full capacity. To watch them feed this crowd is a show in itself. And all of this for a very reasonable price.

A touristic triangle

We talked about Sevierville, but we must mention that its two neighboring cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are also part of a touristic triangle, each one presenting a different angle of the area.

The Strip that unwinds over close to 10 km is the Parkway 441. The majority of attractions, such as the Hollywood Wax Museum, casinos and even the eccentric Wonder Works - a hall built upside down inside and out - can be found along the Strip. A group of chapels to celebrate express weddings can also be found. Here, a wedding permit only costs $35 and you can get married the same day. There’s no celebrant dressed as Elvis, unlike Vegas, here! It is a little more traditional.

In Sevierville and its surroundings:

-many beautiful golf courses and horse riding centers, the NASCAR Speed track where stock car races can be experienced by drivers of different levels and ages.

-the Tanger Five Oaks Outlet where fans of shopping can find designer labels at discount rates.

-Bill Lucy’s Rainforest Adventures, where animal lovers will discover a wide collection of rare and exotic animals and enjoy a magic show with Jim Dyks who, with a great sense of humor, invites people to touch the animals that perform with him.

To pay honor where honor is due, before leaving Sevierville’s historic centre, you shouldn’t forget to say goodbye to Dolly’s statue, which is proudly displayed in front of a main public building.

Not too far

Memphis/Elvis Presley and Nashville/Johnny Cash, respectively, are 6 and 3-hour drives away.

Curiosities to respond to your passions

The Sevierville/Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge region houses many private museums, founded by more or less affluent people ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to share their passion and exhibit their private collection for the public that is avid to learn more about very specific subjects.

The Tennessee Aviation Museum is a perfect example. Old military planes in a perfect state of preservation, pilots’ uniforms from different eras as well as antique sports cars are on display. The owner, Neil Melton, regularly drives and pilots some of those vintage pieces. The site also has its own airstrip where you can fly over the city and the surrounding mountains aboard an authentic 1927 biplane with Sky High Air Tours. Two passengers sit in front, nose and scarf to the wind, while its owner, Marc Hightower, pilots at the rear. Just like in the old black and white movies!

The Smoky Mountain Knife Works and National Knife Museum, which are entirely dedicated to knives, is another example. At first, it might not sound very interesting. Once you cross the door, you will find it is quite the opposite!

Every tool that cuts is there, for hunters, fishermen, soldiers, security professionals, hikers and other adventurers: blades, swords, scissors, knifes, razors, samurais, etc. in modern and ancient versions, used by specialists or in daily life are shown here. The first floor exhibits a rich collection of 4,000 artifacts showing the evolution of the knife, from prehistoric times to those days. Huge stuffed animals, among which a giant bear and an albino buffalo head, together with rare fossils found around the world, another passion of the owner, complete this fascinating tour.

Gigantesque and delicious

In Tennessee, the famous expression “Think Big” is manifested on the plate, and one has to admit that it is delicious!
At the Diner, on the road from the airport to Sevierville, stop to taste the specialties: the buffalo hamburger (finger-licking good and low in fat), one of 15 varieties of milk shakes or the cheesecake. An authentic jukebox provides background music and some eating companions are people who drive there in cars from the 50s in order to get a discount.

At Dollywood, at the Ham & Beans Restaurant and the bakery next door, the star is a 25-pound apple pie. A 3-pound individual piece can of course be enjoyed on site, or you can do as many people do and order the whole pie online or by mail.

At the Apple Barn Complex, whose orchard has 4,000 trees of 12 varieties of apples, breakfast is served at the huge table in the superb dining room with rich woodwork from a traditional house of the 20s. Quite a few versions of the apple will surround your eggs: the compote, the apple butter, apples sautéed with cinnamon, juice, donuts and muffins. Even the ham is smoked on apple firewood. A shop offers cider and apple wine to take home…

At Flapjack’s, a mountain of pancakes await you. Barbequed spare ribs that compete with the size of the table, and pulled pork burgers worthy of a lion’s appetite and famous fried green tomatoes or cakes as high as skyscrapers are offered at Tony Gore and Clint, who are talented chefs, as well as musicians and country and gospel singers.

And the fried baloney! Or the more diet-conscious Slaw Dog (cabbage hot dog), one of Dolly’s favorites, served at the gas station’s canteen Frank Allen.

Whoa! The cure: a diet is recommended before and after a stay in Sevierville.

What to drink?

Of course, sodas and iced tea are served in 12-once glasses… and have as many refills as you want…
On the wine side, the region does not produce grapes. It imports them to produce mostly a sweet wine. The Hillside Winery, for example, produces wines from fruit, such as raspberries.

The history of the clandestine making of the Ole Smoky Moonshine, made of course under the shine of the moon in the mountain, is quite interesting. It is offered plain or in various flavors. It is still sold in jars that are usually used for jams or preserves, respecting the original recipe and the tradition.

Inviting temperatures year-round

Visitors come from Indiana and Ohio as well as from Great Britain and Germany to discover Sevierville and the natural beauties of the Smoky Mountains.

Summer is very hot and dry with an average of 40 degrees Celsius.

Canadians are visiting in growing numbers, attracted mainly by the mild winter climate: between 1 and 16 degrees Celsius.

Tennessee has many attractions and beauties to share with travelers who are avid for unconventionality and where laughs are welcome!

Sylvie Berthiaume

Translation: Christiane Théberge

Follow us in our second reportage about the Great Smoky Mountains.

Our thanks to the Chamber of Commerce of Sevierville and its partners for their contribution to this reportage.

www.seviervillechamber.org
www.wildernessatthesmokies.com
www.dollywood.com
www.tnairmuseum.com
www.smkw.com
www.rfadventures.com
www.actionbracelet.com
www.imaginationlibrary.com
www.applebarnwines.com
www.olesmokymoonshine.com

Surf in the Wilderness at the Smokies 

Hare and Hounds games

Fairy tale at Dollywood

Lights, millions of lights!

Dolly PartonTheater

Fall decorations contest

Bluegrass and rocking chairs

Upside down building

Golf at Sevierville

Samourai swords collection

Cured hams

Apple wine tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  

 

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