Plan your spring break around these must-see Tennessee festivals
Festivals sprout up just like the many flowers that blanket Tennessee during springtime. Food, arts and music festivals begin to fill the calendar in March and continue through the end of the year. Embrace these community events that have become national and international must-attend events. From smokin’ barbecue to fried catfish, wildflower pilgrimages to delicate teapots and artistic flair, Tennessee has your spring break planned with these festivals. For a full list of happenings, head on over to www.tnvacation.com/calendar.
Embrace spring with its bright colors and warm sunshine by celebrating in Gatlinburg during the countywide Springfest March 19-June 8. Sevierville and Pigeon Forge also have SpringFest events. Gatlinburg will have two new events for this year including the Gatlinburg Wine, Dine and Art Crawl April 11 and the Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Blast May 8, presented by Bush Brothers Beans.
The art crawl will include sampling the very best Tennessee wines and noshing on hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants. The evening will wind down with a sit-down dinner at Crystelle Creek, Hogg’s Pub and Grub, and The Three Jimmy’s. The festive Beans ‘n Cornbread Blast features a cook off with dance-inducing mountain music, games, and, of course, a bounty of beans and cornbread.
Other happenings during SpringFest include the 15th annual Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament April 5-6, the 64th annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage April 15, and Earth Week Celebration April 20-27 which includes a clean-up in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, educational activities and a 5K run/walk.
Spring makes its triumphant entry at the Dogwood Arts Festival April 2-27 in Knoxville. It’s the 60th anniversary of the Dogwood Trails in 2014, which celebrates the heart of the Dogwood Arts Festival: the region’s dogwood trees. Amble through beautiful landscapes, flowers and blossoming trees for more than 60 miles as Sequoyah Hills is the spotlight trail this year. Rhythm ‘n Blooms takes place April 4-6 as part of the Dogwood Arts Festival, held in various locations around Knoxville like Barley’s Taproom & Pizzaria, Crush, Lox Salon and many more. Celebrate Knoxville’s varied musical history as hundreds of artists, vendors, venues and sponsors team up to provide a special event of melodic diversity.
See competitors wield their Lodge cast iron skillets and tote their best cornbread recipes in the hopes of winning top honors during the 2014 National Championship Cook-Off at the National Cornbread Festival April 26-27 in South Pittsburg. The perk of all this cornbread? Tasting, of course! Test your luck and your stomach at the Cornbread Eating Contest, stroll through Cornbread Alley, sampling nine different kinds of the Southern staple. Let your taste buds be heard by voting for your favorite. Other activities include arts and crafts, musical entertainment, a jam tent where fiddlers, guitarists, banjoists, and harmonica players can gather for a jam session or two.
Where can you see fire, molten metal and paint splatter? Head to the 6th annual Blooming Arts Festival March 21-22 in downtown Linden and you’ll see even more artistic flair. With more than 100 exhibiting artists, it’s a treasure trove of creativity with wood carved bowls, pottery, stained glass, weavings, painted feathers and photographs. Local eateries and street vendors will peddle their delicious dishes and lively music will set the mood for this family-friendly event.
Attend the award-winning Rivers & Spires Festival April 24-26 in Clarksville. Music, kids’ activities, food and entertainment are all on the schedule in an effort to promote Clarksville’s history and heritage while cultivating the blossoming arts of the area. New for 2014 is the Express Clydesdales and will include six Clydesdale horses for a meet and greet April 26 at Legion Street. Other events include an arm wrestling competition, the River Queen/Teen Pageant, children’s parade and Festival of Nations, highlighting the 26 countries that are represented in Clarksville.
Escape to rural Middle Tennessee and welcome spring and summer with Spring in the Hollow April 26 in Lynchburg. Enjoy walks around the downtown square as you peruse antiques, arts and crafts, and food vendors. Listen to local musicians and see clogging, the Parasol Contest & Parade, quilt show and so much more. If you’ve had Jack Daniel Distillery on your list of things to do, take this opportunity to check out the festival and take a tour of the distillery for free. Purchase flowers and shrubs for your upcoming garden and take simple delight in the upcoming warmer days ahead.
The oil will bubble, sizzle and pop at the World’s Biggest Fish Fry April 19-27 in Paris. More than five tons of catfish is cooked and served to the community. Attend the rodeo, buy souvenirs, attend one of the five beauty pageants and see the Grand Parade or the Small Fry Parade. There are also catfish races which offer a hilarious form of entertainment. The carnival is filled with family-fun activities as well. Celebrate the history of Paris and chow down on some of the best catfish in the area.
See the largest collection of porcelain Veilleuse-Theieres teapots in the world at the Trenton Teapot Festival May 2-4 in Trenton. The celebration begins with the lighting of the teapots ceremony at City Hall with music and fireworks that welcome the first evening of the festival. A parade, chocolate extravaganza, tennis and softball tournaments and other athletic competitions are on the roster. Peer into antique cars at the car exhibition, browse arts and crafts and see the street dance, always a highlight of the event.
Spring explodes in a mass variety of events during the month-long Memphis in May International Festival in Memphis. The city’s largest events like the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, Beale Street Music Festival and the Sunset Symphony occur in the same month, attracting millions of visitors each year. The Beale Street Music Festival takes place May 2-4 and features an eclectic mix of contemporary rock, blues, soul and modern, attracting more than 1.1 million fans. This year’s lineup includes performers like Alabama Shakes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Patti LaBelle, Foster the People, Kid Rock and Juicy J. This year, the festival will salute Panama May 5-11 with authentic foods, performances and much more. Crush that barbecue craving at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest May 15-17 at Tom Lee Park. Meats and spice smells will waft through the air as hundreds of teams will compete for more than $110,000 in prizes and bragging rights.
What are some of your favorite Tennessee spring festivals? Let me know about your experiences in the comment box below!