If you plan on being in Gatlinburg August 17-18, 2007 and want to experience how the people of Gatlinburg, TN once lived, then you have to head downtown to take part of the 2nd annual MountainFest and Old Timer’s Day. There will be lots of bluegrass music, genuine Appalachian mountain music with dulcimers, crafters of all sorts, and demonstrations from people who grew up in the Smoky Mountains and have carried on the mountain traditions. Sadly, a lot of how Gatlinburg once was is slowly passing on with each elder that fades into history. This is your opportunity to hear their stories, dance to their music, see their crafts being handmade, and see how a much simpler time filled the smokies with so much joy. This is a free event for the entire family that I couldn’t suggest enough.
“Old Timer’s Day” was originated in 1923 by the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School as a way for the people of Gatlinburg to come together, sing, share stories, make crafts, and just have a good ole’ time. The event slowly died off around 1950 and is now being revived to share the mountain heritage with others. Personally, I have loved being a local and being able to hear the elders tell stories of the good ole’ days. A daily stop at McCarter’s Market, Parton’s Deli, or McKinney’s Market was always a treat as I learned something new and met all sorts of “mountain folk” over the years. I’m definitely blessed to have lived within a generation of the folks who grew up in Gatlinburg, TN and saw the town without cheesy T-shirts shops, cheap jewelry stores, and foreign novelties. No offense if you’re into that stuff, but a lot of that junk has gotten out of hand over the years and I encourage everyone to experience MountainFest and Old Timer’s Day to see what Gatlinburg use to be like and what originally attracted so many visitors to the area. I’m extremely happy to see events such as this and the Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales taking place as they will provide more of a traditional experience for visitors to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Smokies.
There will be a Mountain Strings Competition on Saturday, August 18, which is open to anyone of all ages. If you like to pick a guitar, banjo, bass, play fiddle, etc then this is your chance to shine for awards and cash prizes! If you don’t play any instruments, then you’ll love sitting in the crowd and hearing all of the bluegrass and musical talent…for free!
The event will take place downtown near traffic light #3 and will start Friday, August 17 at noon and will go until 10:00 pm EDT that night. It will then last from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm on Saturday, August 18.
Other Old Timer’s Days occur in Townsend, Tn every spring with the annual Townsend Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day. Stop by Townsend usually during the first week of May to take part in the festivities.