By Darryl Payne
Posted on April 27, 2016
There's a lot of entertainment options to choose from in the Smokies, but if you're trying to narrow down your choices, you'll find one of the most exciting live shows in the country right in the heart of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show delivers on all counts, from delicious, satisfying food to live entertainment presented on a large scale.
The experience starts as soon as you arrive, when you are greeted by Southern belles at the front entrance and whisked back in time to another era. Then you'll spend some time enjoying the live bluegrass and country sounds of Mountain Ruckus in the Dixie Belle Saloon at no extra charge. Tap your feet and enjoy the saloon's selection of tasty snacks (popcorn and peanuts) and non-alcoholic beverages as you wait for the Stampede show to begin.
Next, the saloon doors will swing open wide, and you'll make your way into Stampede's 35,000-square-foot arena, where you'll find your seats on either the North side or the South side. That's because Dixie Stampede pits audience members against each other in a very friendly Civil War-themed rivalry, and at least for the course of that show, you'll be cheering for either the blue or the gray.
That rivalry is played out during the two-hour production by the stars of the show – 32 magnificent horses and their riders, who engage in a series of horseback competitions, stunts and trick-riding exhibitions. You'll enjoy watching horses run barrel courses or jump through a fiery ring, and at one point, horse-drawn buckboards race each other in furious figure eights around the arena floor.
It's blue versus gray all the way in this multimillion-dollar show that also includes special effects, spectacular musical productions, audience participation, comedy and other animal acts, like racing pigs and doves of peace. It all leads up to a patriotic finale that unites North and South in a red-white-and-blue salute to America.
And don't forget about the meal. Dixie Stampede is known for its four-course family dinner, which your servers (cast members dressed in either blue or gray Civil War uniforms) will begin serving not long after you're seated.
The menu features a mouth-watering whole rotisserie chicken, hickory-smoked barbecue pork loin, Dixie Stampede's famous creamy vegetable soup (no, they won't give you the recipe), a homemade biscuit, buttered corn on the cob, herb-basted potato, a specialty dessert and unlimited soda, tea or coffee. Also, vegetarian meals are available on request.
A note for you first-timers: Dixie Stampede doesn't use silverware, so you get to eat everything with your hands. But don't worry; the soup is served in a bowl with a handle, and they'll give you plenty of napkins. You're going to need them.
Before you leave, you might want to browse their gift shop, where you'll find a wide array of souvenirs of your evening as well as the chance to purchase a photo of you and your party, which was taken when you first entered the building.
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.