Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair – July 19-28

Gatlinburg Fall Craftmen’s Fair – October 11-28

Get a head start on your Christmas shopping this year at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair. The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is rated as one of the top events in the southeast. Crafters from all over the country bring their finest work to the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Crafts and fine art abound! This is a shopping experience to end all shopping experiences. There are aisles and aisles of merchandise, all for your viewing and shopping enjoyment.

On every Christmas list there is that one someone that is hard to shop for. That person who has everything or has that odd interest that you can never find something for. The Craftsmen’s fair will help you eliminate that problem. Finding that odd knick-knack, discovering that perfect piece of jewelry or even finding a way to display that prized collection is all part of the experience. Take your time while you wander through the aisle. Make sure not to miss anything. Look high and low and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Most of these crafters have been coming to this fair for a long time and they will point you in the right direction if they don’t have what you are looking for.

The Craftsmen’s fair brings in over 180 crafters. These crafters bring every type of hand craft and art to the table that you can think of. From pottery to painting, wood crafting to weaving, there is something for everybody. The booths are full of merchandise and the crafters themselves are full of talent and history. You will be able to meet the people that created the pieces of art that you are looking at. You can ask questions, handle the crafts and make a connection with the person that made the item you are interested in.

Some of the various craftsmen and women expected to be in attendance include a soap maker, metal sculptors; Jottie Hand, Gatlinburg, TN – leather; Lonnie McMillan, Maryville, TN – muzzle loading guns, primitive turkey callers, knives; Beverly Watson, Powell TN – designer and creator of whimsical snowmen; Gerald and Cheri Lewis, Land Oakes, FL – antler craft; Joyce Smith, Cherokee, AL – lamp work, glass bead jewelry; Donnie Faulk, Pulaski, TN – horseshoe creations; John Fancher, Gatlinburg, TN – shadow box art; Burton Dye, Murfreesboro, TN – artist; Michael Moss, Speedwell, TN – treasure boxes; Tommy and Sandra Price, Conover, NC – carved and whimsical gourds; Brenda Tustian, Ball Ground, GA – watercolorist; PJ Girouard, Cosby, TN – original design leathers; and Leo and Frankie Edwards, Elizabethton, TN – handpainted switchplates, clocks and lamps.

The crafts and art are the main draw of the show but the craftsmen’s fair does have more to offer. There will be live entertainment throughout the day, food to enjoy and demonstrations of some of the crafts you are viewing. You may get the chance to see someone finish a perfectly turned piece of pottery. You may get to watch someone create a brand new painting, whether it is oil or watercolor. Whatever your reason for attending: Christmas shopping, learning more about crafts, meeting a lot of interesting people or just attending one of the best events in the Southeast you are sure find everything you are looking for at the Fall Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair.

Hours are 10am to 6pm daily and 10am to 5pm on Sundays. Music shows are 12, 2 and 4pm daily 12 and 2pm on Sundays and are included in the admission cost ($6 for Adults and children 12 and under free. Group rates available). For additional information call 865-436-7479 or visit our website at

Scenic Drives in the Smokies

Some days are just meant for driving, especially in the Smokies. If you’re having one of those days let us suggest a couple of great drives through the national park that will keep you on the paved trails, instead of the rocky, and sometimes muddy ones. Lets get started.

Now, if you really want to see the vast plant and wildlife ecosystem that makes up the Smokies, this first drive is as close as one could possibly get to witnessing all these different species.

Newfound Gap Road
Want to see the Smokies? Start at Newfound Gap Road. It’s said that you’d have to travel from Georgia to Maine in order to pass through the variety of forest ecosystems you’ll experience traveling Newfound Gap Road. Starting in Gatlinburg, you’ll find yourself in Cherokee, NC 30 miles later. Besides the vast, wonderous forest ecosystem, motorists will also find other attractions along the way including Sugarlands Visitor Center located just outside Gatlinburg, Clingman’s Dome Road, Ocanaluftee Valley, and Mingus Mill. If those spots don’t tickle your fancy, there are plenty of pulloffs, picnic places, and breathtaking views along the way.

Cades Cove Scenic Drive
This drive will take you right into the heart of the settling of the Smokies. This 11-mile loop traverses the entire cove, which was settled between 1818 and 1821, and you can stop and see old churches, a working gristmill, barns and restored homesteads right off the Loop Road.

There are 159 camping sites, and a trail that takes you up to Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top. Take an afternoon and check out the numerous white-tailed deer, maybe even spot a black bear, and you’ll more than likely come upon some wild turkeys if you stay for awhile. Cades Cove is perfect for a drive, a hike, or just about anything.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
This auto way takes its name from the rushing water you’ll hear if you crack your window. This six-mile, one-way loop road starts just a mile outside Gatlinburg. The first stop along the Roaring Fork Nature Trail is Noah “Bud” Ogle’s farmstead where you can get out and take a walking tour then hike to Rainbow Falls. Grotto Falls is also located along this drive.

Directions – To reach the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, turn off the main parkway in Gatlinburg at traffic light No. 8 and follow Historic Nature Trail Road to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the national park. Just beyond the Rainbow Falls trailhead you have the option of taking the one-way Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (closed in winter). Buses, trailers, and motor homes are not permitted on the Roaring Fork motor nature trail.

Explore the Greenbrier
Wildflower watchers will love this 6 mile road that welcomes auto tours. Places like Porter’s Creek are particularly vibrant in March and April in the Greenbrier area of the park. Once you get there, you might just want to get out of the car and experience the Greenbrier for yourself. If that’s the case, let us suggest taking a four mile hike to Ramsey Cascades – the tallest falls in the Smoky Mountains.

Two Years Later, Two Major Smoky Mountain Trails Open

While tornadoes are fairly rare in this part of the state, a few that sprang up two years caused quite a bit of damage in the park that was still being felt up until just a few days ago.

Due to the storm that produced those tornadoes, the national park service had to close two major trails in the area. Those two Smoky Mountain hiking trails have now reopened and are ready for heavy hiking boot traffic.

The National Park Service said the Beard Cane and Hatcher Mountain trails – both in the west end of the 500,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park – have been repaired and are again open. They were the last of 10 damaged trails to be reopened.

Thousands of trees were knocked down by an F-4 tornado that struck near Cades Cove in April 2011, forcing the closing of 50 miles of trails. One campsite, Backcountry Site 11, has been permanently closed because damage left it unsuitable for use.

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Third Distillery to Call Gatlinburg Home

The moonshine business is booming in Gatlinburg…. Legally, that is. And there looks to be some additional competition on the horizon.

Plans are in place to open a third moonshine distillery in Gatlinburg by year end.

Despite a few snags, the Sugarlands Distilling Company project is moving right along despite there being two distilleries already taking up residence downtown.

“It’s difficult to get a distillery licensed, and so we’ve encountered some issues with the city and hopefully we’ve overcome all of those issues right now and now we’re on to getting our state licensing and federal licensing,” said Ned Vickers, developer for the Sugarlands Distilling Company.

As alluded to, the crux of the issue is Sugarland’s close vicinity to Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery downtown. Distilleries are required be at least 1,000 feet apart according to city ordinances. There are also limits in place as to the number of distilleries that can operate in a city, which currently reads “4”.

According to officials with the city of Gatlinburg, new state law overrides any ordinances that were previously set making it fair game for anyone who wishes to open a distillery no matter how many were established beforehand.

For a number of people, these new measures could be a good thing for Gatlinburg. Two moonshine distilleries less than a block apart could even bring in more tourists to a town that heavily relies on its tourist dollars.

Over the years, many visitors have come to the area solely to purchase moonshine and other regionally-related gifts.

As for the Sugarlands Distilling Company, they’ve got a plan to market its brand of moonshine that will set itself apart from other distilleries. They even hope to break ground within the coming weeks.

“We’re going to have different recipes. We’re going to have a little bit different focus than Ole Smoky does, and we’re also going to plan to start barreling and selling Tennessee Whiskey,” Vickers said.

National Park Asking for Volunteer Guides

If you’ve ever wanted to give back to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for all that it has given to its millions of visitors over the years, now could just be the perfect time. And no, they aren’t asking for money or anything like that. Just time and a helping hand. Plus, you get a chance to get up close to some of the park’s magnificent wildlife.

To be more specific, the national park needs volunteers to assist in guiding visitors who come into the park to view Elk on the North Carolina side. Elk are located in the Cataloochee area, which can basically be classified as a remote mountain valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Volunteers will aid park rangers in directing traffic and instructing visitors on responsible elk viewing in the park.

Elk were reintroduced in Cataloochee in 2001 as part of an experimental release to determine if an elk herd could sustain itself in the park after a 200-year absence. Approximately 140 elk now live in the self-sustaining herd. The Cataloochee elk herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours. Other wildlife commonly spotted include bear, deer, and turkeys.

As for the volunteer program, those selected are asked to work at least two scheduled, four-hour shifts per month starting the second week in May and continuing through November. For more information, call Park Ranger Pete Walker at (828) 506-1739.

Newfound Gap

There might not be a more popular, or needed, man-made portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, than Newfound Gap. Typically described as a low point between two mountains, Newfound Gap runs straight through the park from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC. It’s also considered the lowest drivable pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The old crossing was at a place called Indian Gap which is found just west of Newfound Gap Road. When the lower, easier crossing was discovered, it became known as the “newfound” gap. Construction of a new road followed, and thus, Newfound Gap Road came to be.

The forest ecosystems that one can experiences during a trip down Newfound Gap Road have been compared to those if you were to drive from Georgia to Maine. From native hardwood to pine-oak and northern hardwood, those are just a few species that provide canopy along the way. The woodlands will almost make it seem like you’re traveling through a northern park.

The Appalachian Trail crosses over Newfound Gap Road and straddles the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee for most of its length through the park. Visitors can enjoy a short stroll to stretch their legs or a multi day backpacking excursion on the AT as it runs through the park.

Just south of Newfound Gap, the 7-mile Clingmans Dome Road climbs to within 0.5 mile of Clingmans Dome the highest peak in the Smokies. From the large parking area at the end of the road, a 0.5-mile trail climbs steeply to an observation tower at the “top of old Smoky.” Clingmans Dome Road is closed December 1 – March 31.

from Gatlinburg—16
from Cherokee—18

A Gatlinburg Weekend

Need someone to plan a weekend for you since you’re going to be in Gatlinburg on an upcoming trip? Let us take care of the heavy lifting then. Her at Inside Gatlinburg, we’ve got your Smoky Mountain weekend planned out and broken down in sections. Now, let’s begin with a Saturday morning breakfast.

Saturday Breakfast: Pull up to a table at the Log Cabin Pancake House. There’s no better place for breakfast in the Smokies. You can get enough stacks of pancakes there to get you up Mount LeConte and back down before lunch.

9 am: What isn’t there to do at Dollywood? As far as theme parks go, it’s one of the fasting growing in the country with new rides and attractions opening on a yearly basis. Experience the new Wild Eagle winged coaster, or cool off at Dolly’s Splash Country water park right next door.

Lunch: If you don’t want to stick around Dollywood, historic Old Mill Square is located close by in Pigeon Forge. Their Pottery House Cafe and Grille offer some wonderful and delicious lunch options. From their fried green tomato BLT to their freshly made pies or cakes, there’s something tasty for everyone at the Old Mill.

1 pm: Stick around and look through the Old Mill, purchase some freshly ground cornmeal, or some of the many other mill-produced wares. Next door at the Pigeon River Pottery you can even watch the potters make the plates you just ate your lunch off of.

3 pm: One of the best ways to take in the magnificent views of the Smokies is by one of its newest attractions – Wonders of Flight at WonderWorks. It’s a tethered hot-air balloon that rises 400 feet in the air over Pigeon Forge at Wonders of Flight. Afterward, if you’re looking for a back way into the park, take Wears Valley Road (traffic light No. 3) in Pigeon Forge, make a left at Lyon Springs Road, and follow it into the park to the Cades Cove loop.

Dinner: Ya gotta make a stop at the Hard Rock Cafe while you’re in town.

Nighttime: Take a right out of the door of the Hard Rock and enjoy the parkway in Gatlinburg. Numerous, shops, restaurants, and other attractions stay open late so there’s a lot to choose from. Make a night out of it!

Sunday Breakfast: The Donut Friar located in the Village Shops is up and at ’em at 5 am Sunday morning with some of the finest baked treasures in the Smokies. It’s a “MUST STOP” in Gatlinburg.

8 am: Get into the Smoky Mountains at Sugarlands Visitor Center and take the Sugarlands Nature Trail nearby. There’s also the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail Loop (, complete with historic cabins, wildlife, and waterfalls, which is definitely worth a look into.

Lunch: Try Smoky Mountain Brewery on the Parkway and take your pick of burgers, steaks and some of the best micro-brewed beers at Smoky Mountain Brewery.

2 pm: Stop by the Nantahala Outdoor Center (, it’s an outdoorsmen’s paradise. You can find almost anything you’re looking for when it comes to getting into the great outdoors at this massive outfitter. The NOC has all the gear you need, provides guided trips, and all the information on products and services you could possibly need or ever want.

Dinner: Celebrating 75 years in 2013, Buckhorn Inn is a Gatlinburg classic (built without electricity!). The four-course, prix-fixe dinner menu changes nightly. Thankfully, the sunset view of Mount LeConte does not.

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The River Walk and Downtown

So you thought the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the only place to take a memorable hike in the area? Think again. Gatlinburg, which is literally right outside the national park, is a wonderful place to take a hike, or a short walk, especially around downtown and in the scenic Riverwalk area.

The Smoky Mountains are filled with great opportunities for for getting out and exploring. For many, it’s a must they they stay closer to town for a number of reasons. That doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the natural beauty of the area. Gatlinburg is known as an easily walkable town. So if you get tired or need a break, just stop in one of the many shops and restaurants you pass by. Apart from the downtown Parkway and connecting side streets, the East Parkway at Traffic Light No. 3 is dotted with shops and restaurants for about three miles. As mentioned, the Riverwalk downtown is the perfect place for those looking for picturesque shots of Gatlinburg. It can also be used as a point of emphasis for people coming into town, pointing out attractions, destinations, etc.

The Parkway downtown runs from one end of town to the other and most of it is home to restaurants, local shops, and attractions that stimulate the mind and other senses. Hey, and the Riverwalk is FREE. You don’t need a pass and it doesn’t require an entrance fee, or ask you to purchase something. It’s simply one of the best free things to do in Gatlinburg. The Riverwalk follows the Little Pigeon River as it snakes its way through Gatlinburg, with gazebos and benches found at various points along the way.

Celebrate Junior Ranger Day Saturday in the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is getting ready to celebrate National Junior Ranger Day with special activities at all three visitor centers.

Children can earn a free Junior Ranger patch by completing three of the specially planned activities. They include ranger guided walks, historic toy making, a talk with a wildland firefighter, a blacksmith shop demonstration and touch tables with animal skins and skulls.

Activities take place from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday, April 27 at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Cades Cove Visitor Center near Townsend and Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC. Contact Lloyd Luketin at 865-436-1292 for additional information on Junior Ranger Day.

“National Junior Ranger Day provides a great opportunity for children and families to spend time together learning about the Park while doing fun activities,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “We hope that our local residents will take advantage of this program to interact with our staff and the resources, and, at the same time, plan a full day in the Park.”

Sugarlands will also host a National Park Career Day for middle and high school students who will get a behind-the-scenes look into the careers of the National Park Service.

Students will get a “behind the scenes” look into the careers of the National Park Service. Employees will be demonstrating their jobs with hands-on activities while providing insight for those interested in these types of future careers.

For information and questions about High School Career Day, please contact Emily Guss at 865-736-1713.

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Rocky Top Sports World to Target Sports Tourism in Gatlinburg

Around this time next year Sevier County will be planning a summer grand opening for a brand new sports complex.

Titled Rocky Top Sports World, the facility is currently under construction in Gatlinburg and will be open by next June. In all, it will be home to 80 acres of sports fields including a football field for Gatlinburg Pittman High School, as well as for a host of tournaments.

Upon completion of Rocky Top Sports World, seven state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields, six basketball and 12 volleyball courts, plus several championship fields and courts will adorn an 80-acre area

Tuesday morning, leaders from Sevier County and the City of Gatlinburg came together to announce the project and talk about long term economic goals.

Within the first five years of being open, the total economic impact on the area is expected to be $100 million dollars, with more than 400,000 visitors.

Gatlinburg is excited about the added bonus of sports tourism.

“It’s the only industry that actually grew during the recession, so when we began to learn and realize this, we knew it was an opportunity for us to bring in new folks to the area and again not just about Gatlinburg, but the whole of the county,” said Cindy Cameron Ogle, Gatlinburg City Manager

The target date for the grand opening is in June 2014.