For many locals and a lot of visitors, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) is the very heart of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain experience. GSMNP is so popular, in fact, that in 2007, the Park had approximately twice as many visitors as the Grand Canyon. Although President Roosevelt didn’t dedicate the park until 1940, 2009 marks the official anniversary of the Park.
In 1934, Congress passed legislation providing that the then 400,000-acre holding “be established as a completed park for administration, protection and maintenance,” thus establishing June 15, 1934, as the official birth date of GSMNP. Happy Birthday!
To celebrate the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s 75th Anniversary and the service and dedication of all those who have served it over the years, a full year of events have been planned for 2009. From concerts to dinners, festival to parades…we’ve picked just a few that we thought you might love:
May 2nd – Spring Heritage Festival in Townsend, TN – The Spring Heritage Festival is a glimpse back into the cultural heritage of the Smokies through skill and trade demonstrations, storytelling, music, crafts, games and more in an historic setting.
May 3rd – “Dinner on the Grounds” in Gatlinburg, TN – Enjoy a Sunday midday meal with recipes from the 1930’s. Chicken & dumplings, cornbreads, vinegar pie & lots more! Dulcimer playing, story swapping, old-fashioned fun! Cliff Dwellers Gallery will host “Dinner on the Grounds” as a fundraiser, with all proceeds going to the Park. For more information, click here.
May 15th – 17th “TROUTFEST” in Townsend, TN – Troutfest is a Fly Fishing Exposition and Fundraiser held in Townsend, TN in the Great Smoky Mountains. All profits earned from this event minus some seed money for next year’s event are donated to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fisheries Department for brook trout restoration and other fisheries projects in the park. For more information, visit the TROUTFEST website .
June 13th – “Great Smoky Mountains National Park 75th Anniversary: Concert at Cades Cove” Cades Cove – As part of Great Smoky Mountains 75th anniversary celebration, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO), led by Music Director Lucas Richman, will perform pop and light classical compositions during a 90-minute outdoor concert in Cades Cove on June 13, beginning at 3 p.m. Some favorites will include The Star Spangled Banner, Overture to The Cowboys, Beautiful Dreamer, Ashokan Farewell, America the Beautiful, selections from Sound of Music and more. For complete details, click here.
July 3rd – 4th – Fourth of July Midnight Parade in Gatlinburg, TN is the first Independence Day Parade in the U.S. each year. This year, the theme is 75 Years of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I have even heard rumors that there will be an attempt to recreate President Roosevelt’s 1940 motorcade when he arrived to dedicate the Park 6 years after it’s offical birthday. Want a great view of the fireworks? Check out the cabins of Winfield Heights (Great Escape and Eagle’s Nest have the best views.)
Of course, there are hundreds of events, hikes, fundraisers, dinners, concerts and more to attend throughout 2009 to celebrate the GSMNP’s 75th Anniversary. For a full list of activies, click here. Or visit the GSMNP’s 75th Anniversary Website to peruse the photographic timeline or add your own memories and pictures to the Smokies Family Album.