Pigeon Forge Packs 304 Events Into Wilderness Wildlife Week 2013

Saturday, December 29, 2012 - by Tom Adkinson

When Pigeon Forge launched Wilderness Wildlife Week 22 years ago, there were only four programs on a single Saturday afternoon.

The upcoming 23rd annual winter event will last eight days and will feature 304 workshops, lectures, panel discussions, mini-concerts, hikes and excursions to draw attention to the neighboring Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a variety of other outdoor destinations and topics.

The dates are Jan. 12-19. Programs, all of which are free, are at the Music Road Hotel Convention Center.

While the vast majority of Wilderness Wildlife Week programs are indoors, there are 44 hikes and excursions on the calendar. They range from a photo trek in Cades Cove to a four-mile walk through the Elkmont historic district to a strenuous 11-mile hike to Mt. Cammerer. Round trip transportation to the hikes’ trailheads is provided.

Sam Venable, author and columnist for The Knoxville News Sentinel, is the keynote speaker on Jan. 12. His topic is “How To Tawlk and Rite Good: An Introduction to the Native Tongue of Southern Appalachia.”

Of the 260 programs, 142 are new for 2013, and the lineup is different every day.

Among them are “Wonderful Waterfalls of Tennessee,” “Being Bear Smart,” “Searching for Panthers in the Smokies,” “Wild Hog Management in Great Smoky Mountains National Park” and “Advanced Possomology” (songs and stories about possums presented by folklorist Doug Elliott).

There are 32 special programs about the heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains. Among them are programs about the Civilian Conservation Corps and its impact on the national park.

Nineteen programs are designed especially for children. Their topics include the basics of outdoor photography, learning to hike, what’s special about owls and knowing how to behave if you encounter a bear.

There is a series of nature photography workshops – both about taking pictures and editing images – led by some of the region’s most accomplished photographers.

More than 200 experts – nature photographers, biologists, raptor rehabilitators, social historians, musicians and just plain folks who grew up in the Smokies – donate their time to lead Wilderness Wildlife Week programs.

“The week is extremely flexible. You can come just for one program, for one day or for the whole week,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism, which organizes the event. “We have 304 ways to connect you to our beautiful part of the country.”

Wilderness Wildlife Week in 2012 drew people for 33 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, England and New Zealand.

Wilderness Wildlife Week, named 10 times as a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event, is a part of Pigeon Forge Winterfest, which starts in November and goes through February.

Pigeon Forge completes Winterfest with Saddle Up, a celebration of cowboy poetry, western music and chuck wagon cooking, Feb. 21-24.

Wilderness Wildlife Week details, including the program schedule and hike information, are at www.MyPigeonForge.com/wildlife. Information about all aspects of visiting Pigeon Forge is at www.MyPigeonForge.com or by calling 800 251-9100.


2015 Events Spring Up In Tennessee

The frost on the ground isn’t here yet, but that doesn’t stop Tennessee from planning a spectacular Spring 2015, filled with family-friendly festivals, quirky celebrations, and historic commemorations. EAST More than 200 performers from around the globe celebrate music, art, food, and dance at  Dollywood’s Festival of Nations   March 21 - April 20  in ... (click for more)

Governor Haslam Announces Tourist Development Commissioner To Depart

Governor Bill Haslam on Thursday announced that Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Department of Tourist Development, will be departing the administration after dedicating 12 years of leading the department to return to the private sector.  “Susan has done a great job of promoting the unique assets that Tennessee has to offer to visitors from across the country and around ... (click for more)

2 Suspects Sought In Armed Robbery At Highway 153 Long John Silver's

Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery that happened Friday morning. At approximately  8:10  a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5317 Highway 153 for a robbery at the Long John Silver's.  Officers discovered that two black men, wearing hoodies and masks, entered the Long John Silver's and forced the assistant manager ... (click for more)

Pair Charged With Beating Man With Stick, Taking His Wallet

Two men are charged with beating a man with a large stick while he slept on the steps of a downtown church, then taking his wallet. Jerry Quincy Allen, 45, and James Leo Boas, 40, both of 727 E. 11th St., are charged with aggravated robbery. In the incident on Wednesday, Bradley Casehart said he and a friend were asleep at Tompkin Chapel Church on Palmetto Street. He ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place - And Response

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Scrooge’ Of The Year

As we move into the last weekend before Christmas, the “Scrooge of the Year” has just appeared in Aurora, Ill. Actually Connie Ley has just died. She passed away on Nov. 25, but in her wake left the worst will many around the country have ever heard – her last wishes included that her nine-year-old dog should be put to death, cremated, and buried with her. Bela, a beautiful German ... (click for more)