By Darryl Payne
Posted on April 28, 2017
The perfect long weekend: Good food, beautiful scenery, and good music followed by late Southern breakfasts, and maybe even a hike or a little shopping to burn off the biscuits. If that sounds like your idea of fun, make plans to be part of the festivities at Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass on Friday, May 19th and Saturday, May 20th in beautiful Sevierville, Tennessee. Each year nearly 37,000 people converge in this historic valley for two days of music, food, crafts and fun. Sevierville is nestled at the foot of the majestic Great Smoky Mountains and offers stunning views with a hometown feel. Last year the Southeast Tourism Society voted this family-friendly event Festival of the Year, and additions to this year's events promise even more enjoyment.
'Que fans, rejoice. Whether you like yours spicy, mild, on-the-bun, off-the-bun, the way your Nana use to make it, or with gourmet blueberry and lavender sauce, you'll have more barbeque sampling options than you can handle. If you're serious about barbeque, these are your people, and they're not just here to chat and snack – they're here to win. The Bush's Best Tennessee State Championship Competition is actually sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, so expect fierce competition as barbeque cook teams from all across the United States converge to show off their best recipes.
In Tennessee, nothing goes better with barbeque than mountain music. This year's festival features the new Sound Biscuit Productions stage where you can enjoy local bluegrass bands, traditional fiddlers, live music video tapings, and favorite acts like headliners Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. You won't want to miss the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition honoring the songwriting talent of Sevierville's hometown girl, Dolly Parton. Early this year singers from all over the country submitted their covers of Parton's songs and finalists will perform on stage on the 20th.
The entertainment lineup also includes Hogslop String Band, Paul Williams & The Victory Trio, The Church Sisters, Kicked Off the Train (founding members of Pine Mountain Railroad), Bill Mize, Mountain Ruckus (presented by Dixie Stampede), Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, Kenny & Amanda Smith Band, and Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers.
Arts & Crafts
It's a scientific fact that shopping burns calories. Take a walk through the Arts & Crafts tents for a wide selection of regional creations by local craftspeople. You'll go home with a handmade souvenir that will remind you of a great weekend.
Kids of all ages will find lots to do at the Kids' Zone. Everyone enjoys playing old-fashioned games at Days Gone By and trying out musical instruments such as banjos, fiddles and more at the Bluegrass Music Tent. A lively romp in a bounce house is a good choice for little people hopped up on festival food. Or the kids can enjoy their face paintings all day long.
Where to Stay
Sevierville has plenty of hotels and condos for rent, but for the true Smokies experience you'll need a log cabin, a mountain view, a grill and a rocking chair. For families or groups, accommodations with kitchens, kitchenettes or grills are a great way to save money and get some additional space. Plus that brats, burgers and hot dogs cooked outside in the mountain air are bound to taste better. A good choice is Oak Haven Resort & Spa, just 10 minutes from the festival grounds.
(Other) Things to Do
In between sandwiches and jam sessions, you'll find that Sevierville has lots of other unique activities worth checking out. Stop in the popular Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo or climb, zip or swing from tree to tree at the eco-friendly Tree Tops Ropes Course. For the ultimate memory-making experience, take a ride with Sevier County Choppers. They offer a short 4-mile tour for those who aren't sure they like helicopters, but go ahead and book the 180-mile tour of the mountains, lakes and foothills. Once you see the view, you won't want to come down. Of course, don't underestimate how wildly entertaining it is to sit in a rocking chair doing nothing at all.
What to Pack
May in Tennessee is heaven. Early risers enjoy crisp mountain air, but by noon everyone has peeled down to shorts and t-shirts. Sevierville has a hometown feeling, so be comfortable. (And barbeque-colored t-shirts are always a smart choice.) There are plenty of amazing hiking trails for all levels of hikers, so consider bringing hiking boots or sturdy all-terrain tennis shoes.
Some hotels have festival specials so be sure to ask wherever you book. You can also download the Sevierville Coupon Book for discounts on other attractions, shopping and more. Check the Smoky Mountain Vacation Info Attractions page for discount coupons to other attractions in the area.
About Darryl Payne
Darryl Payne is a native of East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He is a web developer with a passion for building great websites. As a local, he can offer a unique perspective on where to stay and things to do while on vacation in the Smokies. To read his latest recommendations, please click the Google+ follow button.