Gatlinburg NOW

Gatlinburg News, Opinion, and Wonder


July 2016

Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival Coming up in August

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Gatlinburg will be the destination for many of country music’s biggest songwriters past, present and future from August 24-28 at the fifth annual Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival.

Cyndy Montgomery Reeves attended a songwriters festival in Key West, Florida and decided that the Smoky Mountains should have its own, so in 2011 she planned the very first one in Gatlinburg. Since then, the event has grown to include many different venues for hit songwriters and up-and-coming hit-crafters as well.

This year’s headline performers feature the hit writers for Garth Brooks’ biggest singles. They include: Tony Arata, “The Dance;” Kent Blazy, “Ain’t Going Down Til The Sun Comes Up;” and Pat Alger, “The Thunder Rolls.” They will be performing at Glenstone Lodge on August 27th at 7 p.m. Get your tickets for $22.50 now before they are gone.

Also performing is Emi Sunshine and The Rain on August 26th at 8 on Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort property. Tickets cost $15 for adults but children under 12 can get in for $8.

Even though there are competitions for songwriters at this festival, you don’t have to be a musician to enjoy the sounds, as there are many free concerts by over 100 performers located throughout the Smoky Mountain region. If you are interested in finding out every bit of information about the upcoming festival, visit their website at for the full itinerary of performers and the locations of where they will be playing. You will be in for a treat if you are a fan of country music or have an appreciation for excellent songwriting.




Shopping in Gatlinburg for T-Shirts

As I mentioned in previous blog posts, the one thing I find a bit tacky in the beautiful town of Gatlinburg is the number of t-shirt shops that line the Parkway downtown. I have entered them a few times on our trip but have never bought anything. My wife, on the other hand, has found some decent hooded sweat-shirts that she wears on an almost daily basis during the winter. Still, we find that even for the cheap price they advertise, it really isn’t worthwhile enough for me to spend my money on them. There are, however, a couple shops downtown that sell T-shirts around the $20 price that are actually better quality and just plain look nicer. I will highlight these shops that I’m sure you want to hear about.

The first store that I found worthy of a T-shirt purchase is American Traditions. This shop is located between Star Cars and the Gatlinburg Convention Center. It is not solely a shirt store, as it has many different collectibles and souvenirs that are Smoky Mountain themed. The shirts are not thin, and while most probably aren’t made in the U.S., they still should last longer. Many have mountain sayings and some have bears on them that feature them in humorous situations with humans. Then, there are some (most) that feature a bold but not bright color that doesn’t scream “Hey, I went to Gatlinburg, and here  is the shirt I bought to show for it.” 


The next shop on my must-go-to list is Ranger Bob’s Trading Post. Located just before the Pancake Pantry and equally fabulous shopping area called The Village, this is a large gift shop that also has many souvenir items ranging from cowboy hats, key chains, and stuffed black bears. Ranger Bob’s has some nice hot and cold weather shirts that feature some of the same graphics and themes as those from American Traditions, but don’t be scared off by the $20 shirts here; they are of good quality and are the ultimate souvenir, in my book, to bring back home without too much flair.

I highly recommend visiting these places first on your vacation so you’re not tempted by all the $5-$7 shops that are located smack dab in the middle of the Parkway. I almost think this is strategic on the owners’ part, because this is typically the busiest section of the Parkway, and it gives people a break from the crowds, especially during the hot summer months. Thank you for reading, and I hope you will consider my advice when you are shopping for items in Gatlinburg, since you know you will want to do some shopping here.


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