My first visit to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Winterfest!

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My visit to Pigeon Forge, TN was probably one of the best trips I have taken in a long time. This area is not only beautiful, but it also offers so much for people of all ages to enjoy. We managed to fit so much in, in a short amount of time, and we’re already planning a return visit to see more!

Our host and tour guide, Tom Adkinson was wonderful; so knowledgeable about the area, so kind and gracious. We had a fabulous time with him, and saw so much!

We landed in Knoxville on Friday evening, so it was a dark drive into town. The darkness was a bonus in a sense, since the Winter Festival was on; the town was all lit up and beautifully decorated with so many lights and displays. It was just beautiful. Then we had a restful night at the Inn on the River, where we spent our few days in Pigeon Forge. Very nice hotel with great staff!

Between visiting Great Smoky Mountain National Park to having a meal at Mama’s Farmhouse, everything we experienced was memorable.

Having a meal at Mama’s Farmhouse is something everyone must do. The food is just amazing, wow, I wish I could make chicken the way they do! Service is wonderful and the atmosphere is cozy. The meal is served just as it would be in your own home. Serving plates with all the flavours of down home cooking placed on the table for you to serve yourself. It was delicious and filling! It was a pleasure to meet Glenn Alford of Mama’s and to chat with him a bit.

Ashley Adams hosted us at Dollywood. This is a park that everyone should visit at least once. At Christmastime it is especially beautiful. I haven’t seen that many lights in a LONG time! We enjoyed two of their seasonal shows while there, Entrance of the Dollywood theme park.Smoky Mountain Christmas and Dollywood’s Christmas on Ice. Both shows were fabulous! Willem and Tom also took the train ride that brings you around the park, they loved that! The park offers so much for people of all ages. Games, rides, music and food! You can’t go wrong!

We enjoyed the dinner show at the Dixie Stampede also. Jim Whaley hosted us and we had great front row seats. The meal was delicious! Of course, eating a meal like that requires some basic skills, which means there is no use for utensils! The chicken was some of the best I had ever tasted! Tearing into it with my fingers was just added fun! The show itself was wonderful. Being a horse lover, it was a real treat to me, but the best part of the night was the Nativity; probably the best I have ever seen. The singing, storytelling and live animals, was amazing. Seeing the three kings come out, riding camels to offer their gifts to Jesus was beautiful. Then, ending with a white dove, flying across the arena into the hands of a suspended angel! It brought tears to my eyes.

I think some of the most fun I had was in the Old Mill District. I do love to shop and I love tasty treats! After breakfast at the Old Mill Restaurant, with Tom Adkinson, Leon Downey and Donna Huffaker, which by the way was tasty, delicious and the service was great! We also had a beautiful view of the river just outside our window, we then went to the Old Mill itself and we were given a very interesting tour by Chuck Childers, the miller. They grind all their own flour, many different varieties. Chuck gave a GREAT tour! The restaurant itself and the bakery out in the plaza use the flours milled there in all their cooking/baking. I was treated to a sweet potato pecan loaf that is to die for! The Farmhouse Pantry has all kinds of tasty goodies which I plan to stock up on the next time we visit, when we have a car to pack, rather than a suitcase! The Old Mill Candy Kitchen was also a treat, pun intended! I plan to spend more time in the Old Mill Pigeon River Pottery shop also, we had a great tour of that facility and shop, learned about the way they fire and tint their work etc… fascinating! They make some beautiful pieces!

The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge is one stop everyone should make. And of course, in 2012 it will be the 100th anniversary of the tragic end to that beautiful ship. This museum was a marvel. So many items on display that were retrieved from the debris path of the wreck and also donated by family of the people who had been on board. When you enter the museum, you are given a boarding pass, with the name of one of the passengers who had been on that fateful trip, normally you don’t find out until the end of the tour, if you survived or perished. I was given the pass of Ida Straus, she did not survive. She refused to leave the ship without her husband. She instead, left the lifeboat and gave her lifejacket and fur coat to her maid, turned to her husband and said *We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.* There are some interactive areas of this museum which you can explore…from touching the iceberg to placing your hand into water the same temperature as the water was, the night the ship went down. Hard to imagine what it was like for all of those people. Mr John Joslyn was our host here, he has some amazing stories to tell about his trip down to the Titanic among other adventures he has had.

One of the newer venues in Pigeon Forge is the Lumberjack Feud dinner theatre. We had the pleasure of being hosted by Anne-Marie Wilson for a meal and show there. Again being in front row has its advantages…Willem was made president of Opossum Lodge! He ended up being part of the show on many occasions, it was fun! The show this group puts on is amazing, they definitely get their workout. The meal was tasty, service was great and everyone was so much fun. I particularly liked the dogs and horses in the show!

The day we had to depart was a sad one, we were just having too good a time to leave. We went for breakfast at this great diner. Mel’s Diner, owned and operated by a charming Mike Shubert. Tom and I shared a bacon omelet, which I can’t imagine anyone being able to devour alone! This was a fun place, the staff was all smiles, joking with us and their service was fabulous. I loved the atmosphere there, real 50s diner style. I plan to wear my t-shirt with pride!

We did enjoy other venues while in Pigeon Forge; maybe on our next trip I’ll get to see more of them.

I want to thank Tom Adkinson for being such an amazing host and guide to this beautiful treasure of Tennessee, and to thank all the others who hosted us and were so friendly to us. It really felt like home.

So, if you’re in need of a pleasant getaway with lots of fun activities available for you or your children, Pigeon Forge is the place to visit!

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About Linda Cichanowicz

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