Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Day at Dollywood and the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration

One of the things I enjoy most about having a blog is sharing with my readers about some of the places we have come across in our travels. Some of the places are ones that we have discovered in recent years and some are places we return to year after year. These are the places that have played such a special part in the lives of not only my husband and I, but in those of our children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers, as well. They are, in a way, what makes us who and what we are as a family. The memories of times spent together with loved ones are instilled in our hearts and spirits for as long as we live.

Today, I am posting about a  place that has become like an old friend to us. We feel welcomed and "at home" whenever we enter through its gates. Located in the foothills area of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is the theme park, Dollywood.  Many readers will likely know that the park is the namesake of the world renowned and much-adored, Dolly Parton. Before she became the celebrity she is today, Dolly was born and raised in the area of Sevierville, Tennessee, a neighboring town to Pigeon Forge. She has since done much to bring this area into both national and international focus.

I am not being compensated to tell you about this place, but our family has been visiting there pretty much since right after it opened. We have been able to watch Dollywood grow over the years, and admittedly, it is much larger than it was in the beginning and now includes a water park and many unique thrill rides and roller coasters, with more being constructed as I write this post.The newest roller coaster, Firechaser Express, advertised to be the "Nations First Dual-Launch, Backwards and Forward" roller coaster, is scheduled to be completed in 2014. To see a video of this thrill ride, you can check out this site: A spectacular resort called Dollywood DreamMore Resort is expected to be completed in 2015. If you want to read more about it, you can go to this link:

The Fall and early Winter seasons are an especially nice time to visit the park, because things are all decorated up for the holidays. Beginning in October, when trees and plants are ablaze with spectacular jewel tones, Dollywood is quite a show place. The streets are loaded with beautiful  mums, gourds and all sorts of other creative arrangements and props.

The beginning of October also begins Dollywood's National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration, which runs through the entire month of October. We have visited the park many times during the month of October and have never been disappointed. The park is always beautiful and the entertainment is superb.

We made a visit to the park week before last and I took an assortment of pictures, which I hope you will enjoy. It is my hope that these photos will give you a sense of just how wonderful the park was the day we visited on October 28th. We spent the majority of our day in the front areas of the park, where the National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration was taking place and that is where most of the following pictures were taken.

It has become a tradition of Dollywood to have a design of flowers forming the shape of a butterfly(a sort of trademark symbol for Dolly) just outside the main entrance to the park gates. This is how the arrangement looked this year:

Dolly's "Butterfly" Flower Arrangement Just Outside the Park's Entrance
I noticed they used these wonderful flower pot figures throughout the park. Aren't they adorable?

Immediately upon entering the gates to the park, on Show Street (where many of the artists who perform at Dollywood have their concerts)was this huge cornucopia! It was absolutely beautiful, having been filled with all sorts of very large pumpkins and brightly colored gourds. I always associate large orange pumpkins and cornucopias and other gourds with Fall and this arrangement certainly epitomizes Fall to me. A totally awesome display!
A Side View of the Enormous Cornucopia Display
Another View Taken at the Opening of the Cornucopia with Show Street Palace Theater  in the Background

Show Street Palace Theater is located just beyond where the cornucopia was displayed and the Anchormen, a group of Southern Gospel singers, was performing at the theater. We took in that concert soon after arriving at the park. They were very good and gave an inspirational performance.

Show Street Palace Theater

To the right of the main gate is the Spotlight Bakery. This is a nice place to stop and grab a cup of hot coffee and a pastry on a cool and somewhat damp morning, such as the morning when we arrived.

Spotlight Bakery

Farther up Show Street, there were some more very impressive Fall Decorations. It had rained and the streetswere wet.
Some More Beautiful Flowers and Fall Decor

Pictured here is another of those cute flower pot people in a bed of chrysanthemums. Upon closer observation, I noted that terracotta colored plastic pots(not real terracotta) were used to make these, instead of  real terracotta, probably so they will hold up better. At the same time, they will be lighter and easier to maneuver when putting the displays together. These really look good and I think they were probably pretty simple to assemble. 

Flower Pot Person

Another flower pot person! This one's a redhead with more of those glorious pumpkins and gourds. Love it!

Redheaded Pot Person

Across the bridge from Show Street is Jukebox Junction. The Crist Family was performing at the Pines Theater and we watched them perform. This show, also, was wonderful. Later that afternoon, we also saw The Nelons performing in the Pines Theater. This family put on a fabulous concert!

Entrance to Jukebox Junction

Red's Drive In at Juke Box Junction-a great place to get a hamburger and fries!

Red's Drive Inn at Juke Box Junction

We had a very good lunch of beans and greens at Granny Ogle's Ham and Beans over at Craftsman's Valley. We were seated on the enclosed porch, right next to the Valley Theater, a covered outdoor theater. A group called The 11th Hour was performing there while we ate our lunch. It was nice and relaxing having lunch and enjoying a great performance at the same time.

Granny Ogle's Ham and Beans
While we were at Craftsman's Valley, we stopped in at A Touch of Ireland. I always like to stop by this little shop to look at all the wonderful knitted sweaters, scarves and blankets on sale. Looking at the woolen hats and other goods makes me feel as if I am in a quaint little shop somewhere in Ireland. They also have a delightful assortment or Irish themed jewelry, soaps and perfumes. I seldom wear perfume, but a few years ago, I could not resist buying a bottle of perfume here. It is called Innesfree. You see, an old movie classic, "The Quiet Man," starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, is one of my favorites. If you know the movie, you will recall that the island town where the spirited love plot takes place is called Innesfree.  Now, every time I look at or hold that bottle of Innesfree, favorite scenes from that movie are playing away in my "impetuous" and romantic head!

A photo of A Touch of Ireland:

A Touch of Ireland Shop

At Market Square, you will find this beautiful fountain:

We also snapped a picture of the "Mayor" of Dollywood:

The "Mayor"

Some more wonderful Fall decorations:

Dollywood has one of the most beautiful carousels I have seen. We stopped to ride it!

The Beautiful Carousel at Dollywood

Some of the trees wearing their Fall coats:

Don't you just adore this scene of old farm tools and parts of machinery?

This is a demonstration of how Sorghum Syrup was made by using a mechanical grinder pulled by a horse.

Sorghum Syrup Being Made by Using a Grinder Being Turned by a Horse or Mule

I have very fond memories from when I was a very little girl and watching a neighbor couple make sugar cane syrup using this same method. They would harness their mule to the pole that is attached to the mechanism which ground the stalks of cane, releasing the juice which was boiled in a large vat over a brick furnace to make sugar cane syrup.

Some fabulously dressed windows along the street in Jukebox Junction. These have been made ready to kick off the Christmas season which began yesterday, November 9th. 

The little chapel at Dollywood:

I cannot think of a better way to end this post than by giving you a picture of the lovely little chapel. It sits in the middle of this lovely place in the heart of an area that boasts some of the most beautiful spectacles of nature in the world. God, alone, hath truly wrought the majestic and Great Smoky Mountains!


Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

What an amazing event. Your images are just lovely.

Have a wonderful fall week!


lynn cockrell said...

It really is a sweet and peaceful time to visit Dollywood and the mountains, in general.Things are definitely expanding and changing there, but I hope it never loses its family oriented values and hospitable atmosphere.I am glad you came by, Laura. Thanks so much!

My Garden Diaries said...

We drove past Dollywood when we were there but we did not visit. Now with our 3 little beans this looks like the perfect place to go and enjoy with them!!! There is so much goodness! And so many cool shops...I would go nuts in that Irish shop!!! Lynn the colors in your photos are outstanding! Thank you for sharing this treasure with us! And a very happy week to you!!

Patty Antle said...

I've never been to Dollywood so I really enjoyed this, Lynn. You did a great job capturing the highlights. Love the flower pot people. They are darling. And I love the carousel!

Jann Olson said...

Hi Lynn, I've always thought it would be so fun to go to Dollywood. I love the giant Cornucopia! Thanks for sharing it with us.

lynn cockrell said...

Nicole, our family loves Dollywood. There is a sweet spirit in the place. I hope it always retains its God and family centered atmosphere as it grows.There is a lot that I didn't post about, including an area down a hill from the carousel that has a Ferris wheel and some good rides for the little ones. There is a part of the park that opened in recent years that has some fabulous thrill rides, with yet another opening in 2014. There is something for all ages. It is fabulous in the fall and if you can manage a trip in November or December, all the Christmas decorations and lights are wonderful. Thanks for visiting and leaving your sweet comments. Have a beautiful weekend!

lynn cockrell said...

Thanks for dropping by, Patty, and I am glad that you enjoyed the Dollywood post. It is a really is a wonderful park. They have a water park now and a ton of thrill rides, rides for the little ones, and so very much more that I didn't really touch on. If you can't tell, our family, including our grown daughters and their families and in-laws, all love visiting there. It is nice, clean and wholesome fun. Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope your weekend will be perfect!

lynn cockrell said...

It really is a fun and relaxed place, Jann. We try to visit at least a couple of times a year, if possible. The atmosphere there is pleasantly different from some theme parks. It is difficult to put in words, but I think it has a lot to do with that down-to-earth mountain hospitality that seems to flow so freely up there. It is so "homey." Of course, the very location is a major plus, too, with all the natural beauty that abounds. I am so glad you came by to check out my little glimpse into Dollywood. Thanks so much! Have a beautiful weekend, Jann!