If there are two things the Smokies are well known for (besides the gorgeous scenery), they have to be tunes and tales. The sounds of banjos, autoharps and dulcimers and the tales of Tennessee pioneers leave memories etched in your mind that you'll fondly recall for years to come. And whenever you choose to relive them, just come on back to the annual Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales festival.
If you donít have mountain memories to revive, then this two-month event running June 17 through August 13, 2011 is even more important to you. It gives you the chance to hear the lively toe-tapping songs written for the banjo and the gospel tunes that seem to float from the mountain dulcimer. You can also hear tales of pioneer mountain families. These are the people who settled in the mountains during the 1800s and learned self-sufficiency almost unimaginable to us modern-day folks.
Watch as a gourd banjo is built right before your eyes. Witness some of the finest front-porch wood carvers in the world ply their crafts, and be amazed at the hypnotizing sound as rhythmic Tennessee cloggers show off their dance.
Gatlinburg Black Bear Hugs
The summer event is held in downtown Gatlinburg each evening starting at 6 p.m. and is a street show like no other you have seen. Where else can you go and enjoy country music, period pioneer costumes, street theatre, clog dancing and fried pies delivered in friendly Tennessee style?
This isnít just a cultural event though. Tennessee living means having some laughs and fun, too. When you bring the family to the Smoky Mountains Tunes & Tales festival, you will get to meet the Gatlinburg black bear (not real) who loves to give bear hugs and unique mountain personalities like Uncle Tubby and Smiley Burdett. How can you possibly go wrong being entertained by someone named Smiley?
The Heart and Feet of a Clogger
The performers roll into town on a hay wagon and soon afterward are ready to go. There will be a dozen acts ongoing simultaneously with each presentation lasting approximately 10 minutes. The acts include cloggers, musicians, storytellers and a host of craftsmen and women who show you how everyday items (like the dulcimer and quilts) were originally made in the 1800s.
Strolling the streets of Gatlinburg gives you ready access to every actÖ simply stop and watch whenever you wish. In many cases, you will be a participant and not just a viewer. Did you ever think you had the heart (and feet) of a clogger? If so, now is your chance to learn a few new steps.
In between the acts, you can wander through the dozens of shops offering mountain crafts, pulled taffy and, of course, a hometown favoriteÖ grits! No visit to the South is complete without eating a bowl of this creamy ground-corn staple and drinking some sweet iced tea.
Sorghum and MoonPies
Speaking of food, thatís another treat in store when you visit the Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales festival. The restaurants offer authentic mountain food that harkens back to the days when the only acceptable way to cook cornbread was in a greased iron skillet in a hot oven. Try some biscuits and homemade sorghum, savor a MoonPie or feast on hand-pulled barbeque.
When you consider the glory of Tennessee and its mountain past, itís not surprising this is the 6th annual summer Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales festival. The popularity is consistent year after year with good reason. A family event like this is not only a great deal of fun, but it also makes for an ideal vacation. Come see us soon!