Updated -Jan. 12, 2017
Bluegrass Artists Headline Two-Night Concert Feb. 10-11 to Benefit the Dollywood Foundation Wildfire Scholarship Fund
Some of bluegrass music’s top artists will perform Feb. 10-11 at the Le Conte Center in Pigeon Forge with proceeds from ticket sales to benefit the Dollywood Foundation Wildfire Scholarship Fund.
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Grascals, Flatt Lonesome, and Volume 5 will take the stage 5 p.m. ET Friday, Feb. 10. The Lonesome River Band, Barry Bales & Friends, Newtown, Dave Adkins Band, and Jimbo Whaley & Greenbriar perform 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Feb. 11, during a two-night bluegrass celebration to benefit those affected by recent wildfires in East Tennessee.
Sevier County native, Dolly Parton established the Dollywood Foundation Scholarship Fund to provide support for Sevier County students to attend the university of their choice. The scholarship fund includes the Dolly Parton Scholarship, awarded annually to a student at each Sevier County’s five high schools. The Wildfire Scholarship will provide financial aid to students whose homes were lost to the fires.
“For these stellar artists to step up and donate their time and talents to support Sevier County families is beyond belief,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “This two-night music event will help ensure that Sevier County students receive scholarship funds and that’s an important investment in the students’ future—and ours.”
For more information, visit http://mypf.social/smokymtnstrongbluegrasscelebration.
Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are Open for Business and Welcoming Visitors
Attractions, shops, restaurants and lodging properties in Sevier County are open and welcoming visitors back to the area.
Smoky Mountain Winterfest is in full-swing through Feb. 28, 2017 in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg featuring millions of lights celebrating the winter season.
In Gatlinburg, the Downtown Parkway and attractions including Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Ole Smoky Distillery, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, and the Convention Center are open and welcoming visitors. The area surrounding downtown Gatlinburg experienced losses and is being evaluated; however, the heart of the city’s town is intact.
Ober Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tramway is open. Ober Gatlinburg activities are open including the Ski Slopes, Snowboard Slopes, Ski Mountain Coaster, Snow Tubing, Wildlife Encounter, Scenic Chairlift, and pending weather condition's the Alpine Slide. Indoor activities include the Ice Rink, Carousel, Seasons of Ober Restaurant, The Loft Lounge, Sidewalk Café, The Market, The Fudge Shoppe, Ober Snack Bar, Ski Mountain Sports, Slopeside Apparel and Gifts, O'Bear's Playhouse, The Galleria Logo Shop, Family Crests, Jensen Images and The Leather Shop.
Pigeon Forge and Sevierville
Businesses in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are operating as usual. Dollywood, the state’s most-visited ticketed attraction, is open. Also, Smoky Mountain Winterfest festival, which spans all three cities, continues through Feb. 28. Restaurants and lodging properties in Pigeon Forge are operating on normal schedules.
Townsend, in Blount County, is open for business, including the entrance to Cades Cove, a popular Smoky Mountain scenic drive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open. The Gatlinburg Bypass, Little River Road, and US Hwy 441 New Found Gap Road are open to all vehicles.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have lifted the fire ban. Visitors can have campfires and use grills at established front country and backcountry campsites and picnic areas. The fire was considered 100% contained as of Sunday, Dec. 18.
“Many people have asked us how to help. One of the best ways to help the Smoky Mountains recover from the wildfire’s impact is to come visit us and help keep our community strong and working,” said Brenda McCroskey, Chief Executive Officer of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.
"If you really want to do something for Gatlinburg, come back and visit us,” Gatlinburg Mayor Michael Werner said in a Nov. 30 press conference, encouraging visitation as a show of support to the popular vacation destination located next door to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited. Werner lost his home and business in the fire.
“As we strive to keep our folks working so that they can support themselves and their families, our greater community can help us in several ways,” said Leon Downey, Executive Director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “If you have reservations, don’t cancel; come and see us during Winterfest. Consider us as you make your plans for spring break and next summer’s vacation. This will help us sustain our businesses and jobs.”
Dolly Parton’s My People Fund Update
Millions watched Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon and millions of dollars were raised. The telethon received huge donations from music stars like Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Paul Simon and Dierks Bentley but also from families across the country who just wanted to give the people of Dolly's home area a hand up in the tragic wildfires.
"I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who have donated from all over the country and to my friends who donated their time, their talent, and money for My People," Dolly Parton explained. "The response has been so overwhelming that we haven't been able to count all of the donations yet; right now, in total, we have raised about $9 million dollars for the folks who lost everything in Sevier County."
The total amount raised is expected to rise as mail donations are counted and the telethon is rebroadcast.
Anyone who would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the My People Fund may visit dollywoodfoundation.org
For those wishing to send donations via mail, those contributions should be sent to: My People Fund, c/o Dollywood Foundation, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863. Donations are also being accepted by texting DOLLY to 501501 for a onetime $10 donation or DOLLY25 to 501501 for a onetime $25 donation. Messaging and data rates will apply.
More than 900 families have been displaced due to the wildfires which spread across Parton's home area of Sevier County, Tennessee in late November. The entertainment icon established the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund to provide $1,000 each month for six months to every family who lost their primary residence.
Artists who donated their performances to the effort include: Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Chris Stapleton, Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss, Michael W. Smith, Chris Janson, Big & Rich, LOCASH, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, Don McLean, Amy Grant, Alabama, Aaron Lewis and Rhonda Vincent
Volunteer East Tennessee is leading the efforts to coordinate volunteers. Check-in point for all volunteers wanting to donate their time is located at 1304 Parkway, Sevierville, TN, 37862 (building that says "Theater" on the front). Anyone interested in volunteering in the recovery effort is encouraged to visit www.volunteertn.org .
Disaster Relief Information
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (TN VOAD) have set up a call center to provide information for those who would like to donate goods and volunteer to help survivors. For a list of the most-needed items, please visit mypf.social/pfdonationneeds . The call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; the phone number is 866-586-4483.
To support displaced residents and visitors, Pigeon Forge established a distribution center to disperse donated food and supplies. Located just off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge in the former Boyds Bear building at 149 Cates Lane, the facility is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Representatives from the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and major private insurance companies are also on site.
Any Sevier County resident or visitor who was affected by the wildfires is encouraged to visit the distribution center.
Available supplies include bottled water, adult- and children’s-sized apparel, footwear, blankets, food, beverages, over-the-counter medications, personal hygiene products, diapers, flashlights, baby formula and more.
The distribution center will remain open until demand decreases or inventory is depleted. Donation collection efforts that are already underway will be received at the distribution center. City officials kindly request that no new donation collection efforts begin until the current supply is reduced and additional storage space becomes available.
The Gatlinburg Relief Fund has been established at SmartBank. Donations can be dropped off at any location or mailed to:
Gatlinburg Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1910
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868
Call 865-453-2650 for more information.
City of Pigeon Forge Fire Fund. Donations can be made at any Citizens National Bank branch or mailed to:
Citizens National Bank
200 Forks of the River Parkway
Sevierville, TN 37862
Donations are being accepted at the Pigeon Forge Fire Hall Station 1 in Pigeon Forge (865-429-7381).