Spring is Bustin’ Out All Over!

Okay, my apologies to Rogers & Hammerstein, but I really want to rewrite that Carousel lyric!  Things don’t wait until June around here to start bustin’ out ~ try to stop a wildflower from blooming when the temperatures approach 80 degrees.  While we don’t have any wildflowers on property, we do have lots of these lovely trees …

… and a few happy pansies …

… and over in The Boutique, where staff is busy stocking up on spring Hatley apparel and a couple of new jewelry lines, we’ve also received the Vera Bradley spring colors …

I’m holding on until early May, when the color I want (Make Me Blush) is scheduled to be delivered in the style I want (Cha Cha Handbag).

I always try to keep up with what’s going on around the county, too.  Here’s a great calendar to bookmark for Pigeon Forge and Sevier County events.  Springfest starts today ~ and we’ll be bringing Santa to the Dolly parade as always.  Wildflower walks, trout fishing, classic car shows, and lots and lots of music – it’s great to be in East Tennessee as winter becomes a memory.  (I will say, though, that there is still plenty of white stuff visible on the far mountain peaks.  At least it’s there today.  I’ll check again tomorrow.)

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Sounds of Spring!

If you really want a treat, take yourself to Sevierville and make your way around to the back of the post office, across the parking lot from Food City (on Dolly Parton Parkway).  There is a reed-filled bog there that is resounding with the most delightful sounds of frogs loving the warmer weather!  Yesterday, I could hear their music over the sound of the radio .. with all the car windows rolled up.  Today, they were even louder.  What a wonderful cacophony of spring!

None of those bog frogs are as laid back as these colorful characters, I’m sure!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

A Mountain Quiltfest

The 16th Annual A Mountain Quiltfest opens tomorrow, March 10th, here in Pigeon Forge, with the quilts remaining on display through Sunday, March 14th.  The Quilt Show and Vendor Hall are free and open to the public at the Music Road Convention Center and Smoky Mountain Convention Center venues.

On Friday night, there’s a Show-and-Tell event at the Grand Majestic Theater, where quilters are invited to bring their projects and discuss the inspiration behind their unique creations.

Instructors from all over the United States are giving quilting lessons for students of all skill levels, covering every topic and technique you can imagine.  Professional quilt appraiser Sandra Palmer is here again this year for private appraisals.

Door prizes, meal lectures, Antique Quilt Bed Turning (highlighting pre-1960 quilts), and of course all the fabulous original creations entered into the juried quiltfest show in ten categories – there will be an abundance of beauty, creativity & inspiration on display this weekend!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Titanic Museum Coming to Pigeon Forge

I just came from a “hard hat tour” of the new Titanic museum that opens up the street here next month.  I think you’ll definitely want to go, and take the whole family with you!

The front portion of the ship is nearing completion now, built at about 1/2 scale to the real ship.  There’s an iceberg tearing into the prow on the other side of the ship, and soon there will be waves breaking across her bow.  The museum will house around 400 artifacts valued at $4 million, some on display for the first time ever.  Photographs and film footage comprising the only original images in existence will be on view as part of the interactive museum exhibit.

Our brief tour took us through the third class (steerage) deck, where you’ll experience flood waters rising through the ship (but stay dry, never fear); through first class, and  into the only, and very grand, parlor on the ship.  The grand wooden staircase you remember from photos and recreations will be installed next week.  There is even a room depicting the sight of the wreckage on the ocean floor, with images that will place you right inside the explorer’s submarine.  John Joslyn, museum owner, spent over 30 days at the site of the wreck and made several submarine trips to the ocean floor.

Our hostess for the tour, Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, explained that each visitor will be assigned the name of a person who was on the ship, and at the end of the tour you’ll learn whether your character (passenger or crew member) lived or died.  Children will be involved in the experience by being assigned tasks to perform along the way, such as shoveling coal into the boilers.  There is also a scaled-down, hands-on activity area for kids called Tot-tanic (I may not have the right spelling, but that’s the pronunciation).  One of the activities is a game recreation of the crash in which the player has 37 seconds to try to avoid hitting the iceberg, as happened on that fateful night.

The crew will be well-trained to help complete your immersion experience by interacting with one another like a typical ship’s crew.

We’ve been watching the ship take shape over the past year, those enormous stovepipes rising in the sky ~ how neat to get a glimpse inside.  I think it’s going to be a spectacular attraction, something you’ll want to tour more than once, and an experience that will linger with you afterwards.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Winter Heritage Festival in the Smokies

I don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to take in the Winter Heritage Festival in the Smokies, hosted in Townsend February 4-7, 2010.

Celebrating the beauty, history, and traditions of Townsend, Cades Cove, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the festival kicks off with a social evening including music, light hors d’oeuvres, and a program at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont (reservations required).  The rest of the weekend is filled with programs, most free, covering all facets of life in the valley and offered at the Townsend Visitors Center and several other area venues, including in the Park.

The Southeast Tourism Society has designated this festival one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast.  Follow the link at the top for the schedule, reservations, photos, and sponsorship information – and I think their page load graphics are awfully cool, too!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Winter Wonderland

We had a bit of a cold, wet spell here recently, along with most of the rest of the country, so last Monday I took a trip up to the top of Old Smoky for some photos.  The deepest snow was on the mountain ranges that you can’t see from Newfound Gap, but then we wouldn’t have been able to drive up, now would we?  There were still a few icy patches that required cautious negotiation, but many travelers were on the road with us.  Passing trailheads along the way, it was clear that there were also plenty of hikers enjoying a snowy climb.

Here are a few images I captured.  The stream was mostly snow- and ice-covered, with  barely visible patches of flowing water occasionally reflecting the sky.. well, not that much sky gets through the thick surrounding brush.  About halfway up the mountain to the pass, a pair of very skinny wild turkeys crossed the road behind us – we wished we had some corn to help them make it through the week.

Next is my favorite picture, because it looks like it’s snowing .. but really I took the picture with the sun in the wrong place .. I just wanted to be up there while the snow was coming down!

The next pictures show that there was not much wind during the snowfall – just enough to stick snow to trunks and branches, but then leave it there.

Newfound Gap

Looking south into North Carolina:

Looking north into Tennessee:

Looking west up the valley towards Gatlinburg:

I love that snowy landscape!  For a few days, we were even telling each other the snow was “laying for more snow,” but I sure don’t see it in the near forecast.

Til the weekend, all our cars were white with salt and spray, but now everyone has had a chance to take cars through the car wash, and I’m blinded every time I look out the window here .. which is a good problem, because it means we have guests ~ people are still feeling the spirit of Christmas, even three weeks into the new year.  I think there are only about 341 days til next Christmas ..

Wishing you blue skies and clear highways wherever you may be today!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Wilderness Wildlife Week

The 20th Annual Wilderness Wildlife Week is almost here already!  It will take place January 9-16, 2010, at the Music Road Hotel & Convention Center in Pigeon Forge and at locations throughout the park.

The event will offer 175+ lectures, seminars, and workshops; 50+ hikes and tours; and Smoky Mountain music at AppalachiaFest (taking place at Music Road on Wednesday, January 13th).  The complete class listing has been posted here, and there are sessions for both kids and adults.    Topics cover everything from the flora, fauna, and geology of the area to photography helps, musical performance, and the history and culture of the region.  A complete list of planned hikes, including hike ratings, is posted here.

Plan time to explore the exhibitors‘ booths, too, including non-profit organizations and retail businesses, and take in a basket-making or blacksmithing demonstration.  This year, award-winning cowboy cook and storyteller Kent Rollins will be giving demonstrations and classes in Dutch oven cooking.

This eight-day celebration of all things outdoors is packed with interest and fun for all who attend.  All events (except AppalachiaFest) are offered free of charge.  It’s a great way to start your winter!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Christmas Light Shows

The annual Winterfest celebration is well under way here in Sevier County, with myriads of lights illuminating businesses and land along the parkway in a holiday glow from Sevierville to Gatlinburg.  The creativity and color are really something to see!  Now’s the time to pile everyone in the car and take an evening drive.

If you’d like to add some music and synchronization to your holiday light viewing pleasure, head up to the Smokies Baseball park (I-40 at exit 407) for the Christmas Wonderland music and light show extravaganza.  The show itself includes 6 songs performed over about 25 minutes, and it is a drive-through or drive-through-and-pull-over event, no getting out of the car.  There is a cost per car for the tour.  A couple of the staff here at Christmas Place have been through, and they highly recommend it.

Okay, so there are two good reasons not to complain so much about the ending of daylight savings time!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Quick Pix

It’s a classic car weekend in Pigeon Forge – the “Shades of the Past Rod Run Show XXVII” is being held just around the corner.  We’ve been watching all the gorgeous automobiles go by on the parkway, and a few have landed in our parking lot.  Here’s a bright red beauty:


The county fair is going on now as well.  Plenty of reasons to get out and about and enjoy a little Pigeon Forge fun this weekend!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

American Ingenuity

Look what pulled up to our curb this morning!  Can I call it “American” ingenuity when they used a German Volkswagen Beetle?  Whatever, it fascinated staff and guests – I didn’t get to see the driver, but I’m thinking he must have some pretty long legs, at least.


Bugcycle 2

All the windows were removed – the red antenna is sticking up through the rear window area.  It looks like the original bench seat is still in the back.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place