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Don’t miss the Civil War Reenactment in Pigeon Forge!

The hills surrounding Pigeon Forge will rumble with the concussion of artillery fire Saturday, August, 25 and Sunday, August, 26   when Civil War re-enactors will fire a canon from the era for “Thunder in the Forge” at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center located at 4010 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.

America’s most famous Confederate, H.K. Edgarton, poses with Mary Todd Lincoln at the 2011 Relics Show.

The two-day event is an opportunity for Civil War enthusiasts to meet re-enactors, visit a Civil war camp site and experience living history at an encampment. Visitors can meet members of Our Reflections of Yesterday who will portray persona from the era including Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, General Stonewall Jackson and many others.

  Thousands of relics from theCivil War era will be on display for purchase including guns, knives, bullets, and other artifacts. Collectors are encouraged to bring any historical artifacts they may have to sell or trade.

  Noted author Col. Tom McKenny, author of “Jack Hinson: One Man War, Civil War Sniper” will be on hand to sell and sign copies of his book.   

    McKenny’s book is the true account of a Knoxville famer whose sons were murdered by invading Union soldiers despite the fact the two young men were civilians and not involved in the conflict. Hinson sought retribution with a one man campaign to exact revenge on the men who killed his sons. He began a series of well executed and expertly coordinated sniper attacks on the Union forces killing several.

    McKenny will tell the story. Hinson’s guns, which are the property of Judge Ben McFarlin, will be on display.

This Confederate battle flag was on display at the 2011 Relics show and valued at $300,000.

The artillery exhibition will be presented by the 63rd Tennessee Infantry.

   The event begins Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. Doors will reopen at 9 a.m. Sunday morning and the show ends at 3 p.m.

   Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult.

   For further information contact Lynn Hammond at southerncross1861 @gmail.com.

Tennessee Tax Free Weekend 2012 – Shop & Stay in the Smokies!

Subscribe to A Day in the Smokies!At first glance “sales tax holiday” doesn’t sound very exciting. After all, when are taxes EVER exciting? But if you look closer, you’ll realize that this is a holiday FROM sales tax!! The Smokies offer tons of shopping anyway, for those shop-a-holics out there… and on tax-free weekend every year, shop-a-holics come from far and wide to enjoy that statewide discount here in the Smokies! This year, tax-free weekend is August 3-5, 2012. There are more places to shop here than I could possibly put on one blog, but here are a few of our favorites!

The Village ShopsThe Village Shops– “For Gatlinburg Shopping at its best, The Village is the place to shop, eat, relax and enjoy! Just past stop light #6 on the Parkway in Gatlinburg, adjacent to the Pancake Pantry, lays one of the Smokies most unique destination shopping experiences in Gatlinburg near Pigeon Forge, TN. Here you will find a collection of 27 unique boutiques, eateries, galleries and clothiers set in a quaint European village atmosphere right near the entrance to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

Baskins Square MallBaskins Square Mall Gatlinburg– Baskins Square Mall is located conveniently between traffic lights #6 and #7 in downtown Gatlinburg! This mall includes about 14 shops from Claires, to Mountain Woodcarvers, to the Mountain Edge Grill! Come on down!

Mountain MallMountain Mall– “The Gatlinburg Mountain Mall, Gatlinburg’s premier indoor shopping experience, is unlike any other shopping mall. Nestled in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, TN at Traffic Light #6 across from Ripley’s Aquarium, the Gatlinburg Mountain Mall features a vast variety of shops each with a unique theme.”

Reagan Terrace MallReagan Terrace Mall– Reagan Terrace Mall is located conveniently between traffic lights #6 and #7 in downtown Gatlinburg! This mall includes about 13 shops from Midieval Blades, to Old Timey Photos, to Fudge Shoppe of the Smokies! Don’t miss out!

Tanger Outlet MallTanger Outlet– The Tanger Outlet offers over 100 band name stores just off 441! Tanger is probably the favorite shopping destination in the Smokies of most of the people I talk to! It includes every type of store you can imagine, as well as a few delicious places to eat, and right next door is the Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf, where you can drop off the members of your family who don’t enjoy shopping while you hit the stores!

Incredible Christmas PlaceIncredible Christmas Place– “[They] are the South’s largest Christmas village, surrounded by the beautiful Smoky Mountains. The Christmas spirit comes to life [ther] daily with over 50 designer-themed Christmas trees, novelty Christmas Lights, Department 56 Villages, Personalized Ornaments, and custom floral arrangements designed exclusively at The Incredible Christmas Place.”

Belz Factory Outlet WorldBelz Factory Outlet World– “Belz Outlets Pigeon Forge are the largest, most convenient and only climate-controlled outlet shopping highlight in the area. We feature more than 65 outlet stores offering everything from apparel and footwear to homes goods and fragrance.”

The Old Mill SquareThe Old Mill Square– “The Old Mill Square complex of restaurants, bakery, pottery and craft shops is more of a total destination than a single stop among an abundance of area tourist attractions, certainly as much so as the Tanger Factory Outlet Malls, or Dollywood, or Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. Visitors can still watch meal and flour being ground the same way by the huge water powered granite French Buhrs in the mill, or pottery being thrown, or bread and candy being made. It’s a day’s worth or more of delight and wonder.”

Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet MallPigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall– “Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall, also known as the “Red Roof Mall,” is a wonderful opportunity for exceptional outlet shopping when you are in the Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, or Sevierville areas. Our stores offer a variety of products and factory outlet experiences. From perfumes to snacking and from clothing to books and tools, we have it all for low prices you can’t beat.”

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Gatlinburg Adventures Zip, Zorb & More!

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesSummer is a great time to enjoy all the adventure the Smokies has to offer!

Go Ziplining!Ziplines
Just imagine… gliding through the shady emerald tree tops, the cool wind brushing across your face, and of course, luscious, verdant views all around! Ziplining has become quite a big deal around here. There are places, right off the main Parkway, where you can enjoy easy access, and still experience the thrill off the wind whipping across your face. If you want to enjoy ziplining in the lush green forest canopy, there are places that offer this as well! Check out our related post Zipline Fever.

Enjoy the Thrill of Rafting!Rafting and Tubing
As an East Tennessee kid, rafting and tubing were an integral part of my childhood! A week of summer camp wasn’t complete without at least one or the other, if not both! If you love thrill and adventure, look no further than a day of white water rafting! You will be an irreplaceable member of your rafting team, as you learn to paddle together according to your guide’s instructions! Experience the thrill of making it through those roaring rapids, and in the intensity, don’t forget to look at the gorgeous creation around you! If you are more interested in viewing the creation and less interested in thrill and adventure, perhaps tubing is for you! Enjoy a lovely afternoon floating down a calmer section of a creek or small river as you gaze at the beautiful surroundings! Either way, don’t forget the sunscreen! There are tons of places around here that can provide these aquatic adventures for you! See our related posts for more info Let’s Get Wet.

Try Indoor SkydivingIndoor Skydiving
This vertical wind tunnel that allows you to experience the freedom of human flight and is located at traffic light #5 in Pigeon Forge. As a flyer, participants attend a 20-minute training class, receive a suit, helmet & other safety equipment. Following a short review of the basics, a group of 5 flyers enters the wind tunnel with their instructor. Almost anyone can fly as long as you weigh at least 40 lbs. Watch this video for a preview of kids in flight. Link to pricing & coupons.

Bungee Jumping!Bungee Jumping
I remember when I was on vacation with my family in Pigeon Forge as a kid, sitting at an ice cream shop, eating our ice cream, and watching people bungee jumping down the road. It certainly is a thrill! And it’s an institution of Pigeon Forge. You can enjoy both bungee jumping and the SkyFlyer, meant to give the sensation of sky diving, at The Track. While you’re there, the slightly less adventurous members of your group can enjoy mini golf, bumper boats, and of course, the Wild Woody Go Kart Track, as well as a few others!

Rock Wall ClimbingRopes Courses and Climbing
If you are looking for challenging, professional level rock climbing, especially on real rocks, we may have to plan a day trip. But if you are fairly new to climbing, or perhaps would enjoy an easy day, just for the fun of it, we have several options to choose from! The closest place to climb some real rocks is near Townsend, a place called Look Rock. It is said to provide some great views from an observation tower that is also there. There are two rock walls that I’ve heard about. WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge has one that’s fun for adults and children alike, not too difficult. The Nantahala Outdoor Center in Gatlinburg also has one that boasts different routes for all ages and skill levels! WonderWorks also has an indoor ropes course, and Dollywood has an outdoor one. The elements in each are fairly similar to each other, but I would say Dollywood’s course has a little more variety. Also, Dollywood’s course, Adventure Mountain, has 3 distinct “trails” (and a 4th trail for the little bitties!) which you go through, and each “trail” has 3 different tracks you can choose from and switch between at each element. The WonderWorks course is a web of varying elements which you travel through in any order you choose. Both are quite enjoyable and come with general admission to the larger attraction they are in- great deal!

ZORBZorb– The only ZORB™ location in the United States is located in the Smoky Mountain area. ZORB™ is the sport of rolling down a hill inside a giant inflatable ball and according to their website, “where New Zealand, once again leads the world in stupid things to do while you’re on a vacation.” See the video(follow the link if your browser does not display) below:

YES, that’s a person in the middle of this big ZORB™ ball! The ZORB™ ride is just a totally bizarre and fun adventure experience where you’d be protected by a massive cushion of air whilst sphering down a hill.

Throw in a bucket of water, hop inside the inflated ZORB™ ball, run, tumble, flip or slide inside it, doesn’t sound fun enough yet? Take up to 2 of your mates with you inside the ZORB™!

Visit Forbidden Caverns!Explore the Caves Under the Smokies
Why not go spelunking?! (I just like to use that word!) Or at least take a guided tour of the caves under the Smokies. “Tennessee is home to the most caves in the United States, with over 8,350 caves registered to date. Forbidden Caverns, located in Sevierville, Tennessee is one of America’s most spectacular caverns. Visitors are provided with an entertaining and educational tour past sparkling formations, towering natural chimneys, numerous grottos and a crystal clear stream. Special lighting effects, a stereophonic sound presentation and well-trained tour guides combine to make this a most enjoyable experience. The trails are well-lighted, with handrails at all necessary points.”
“Carved over tens of thousands of years in one of the earth’s oldest mountain chains, Tuckaleechee Caverns at Townsend, Tenn., are known as the ‘Greatest Site Under the Smokies’. Estimated to be between 20 and 30 million years old, the Caverns are rich in history and lore in recent years as well.”

Try Riding ATVs!ATV (and other off-road) Adventures
If you want to stay closer to the Smokies and/or don’t have your own ATV to ride, check out the ATV rides available with Bluff Mountain Adventures! They provide the ATV, safety equipment, and a guided tour. Ride types range from introductory to challenging, from 5 to 20 miles, and from $37.95 to $177.95 (plus tax and insurance). They have great reviews, so check them out! If you have your own ATV, dirt bike, Jeep, etc., and would like to enjoy a great OHV area, try Coal Creek, about 1.5 hours away from here. It would be a great day trip! “The Coal Creek OHV Area is 72,000 acres of off-road fun, located in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. Hundreds of off-roaders can be found every weekend enjoying our trails. The trails are open to everyone and just about any type of vehicle. ATV’s, motorcycles, mountain bikes, Jeeps, buggies, trucks all enjoy some of the best off-roading in the country.”

Enjoy a Haunted Tour of Gatlinburg!Haunted Tours
There are a few haunted houses in Gatlinburg. “Ripley’s Haunted Adventure is a multi-million dollar haunted house featuring live actors, animatronics and bone chilling special effects.” “Experience the terror and horror of a classic, turn of the century, truly haunted house at Mysterious Mansion. Walk into a chilling haunted house with secret passageways, a damp, dark dungeon, spooks, creaks, creeps and plenty of things that go bump in the night. There’s an army of ghosts, and grisly creatures awaiting your arrival, all designed with fright in mind. Ghastly. Grisly. Grim. They can not describe the horror that awaits you at the ultimate scare in town – Mysterious Mansion. Don’t dare miss it! And, what ever you do, don’t go there alone!” For something a little more serious try the Haunted Ghost Tour of Gatlinburg. While haunted houses may be frightful, the ghost stories you’ll hear on this tour have a much larger measure of truth in them. Hear the actual ghost stories of the Smokies as you walk around town and view the places where the stories are said to have taken place. Learn a little about the history of Gatlinburg as well. And take your camera! Your guide will instruct you to take pictures at certain key locations, and you may be surprised by what you find when you look back at your pictures afterward!

After an exhausting day of grand adventures snuggle down in your own cabin to rest up for another exciting day in the Smokies!

ERA In The Smokies Realty and RentalsThis blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Happy 4th of July from ERA in the Smokies!!!

Happy 4th of July to all of our readers.

As I searched for what to write about today, other than the obvious holiday, of course, I looked my office window into the streets of Gatlinburg, TN. Just last night, our streets were filled with over 100,0oo people who travel from all across the U.S. to watch our first in the Nation 4th of July Parade. Out of those 100,000 viewers, I wondered how many of them really know the history of the fourth of July. Sure, it is easy to say it’s the birthday of the United States….but what does that really mean for us as a country.

Many times holidays are celebrated because, they are just tradition. You many have grown up practicing several holiday traditions throughout your life, without really every stopping to think, “Why?”, or “What is this all about?”. These questions prompted by research & blog today…although I was pretty sure I knew the history of the 4th of July, I wanted to share with our readers, a very easy to ready essay I found online.

Most people in the United States celebrate the 4th of July, but do you know exactly why the holiday is so important to our country? Imagine how you would feel if someone older than you (maybe an older sister or brother) kept telling you what to do all of the time and kept taking more and more of your allowance. That is how the colonists felt in the years leading up to 1776. Great Britain kept trying to make the colonists follow more rules and pay higher taxes. People started getting mad and began making plans to be able to make their own rules. They no longer wanted Great Britain to be able to tell them what to do, so they decided to tell Great Britain that they were becoming an independent country. (To be independent means to take care of yourself, making your own rules and providing for your own needs.)

The Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and they appointed a committee (a group of people working together to do a specific job) to write a formal document that would tell Great Britain that the Americans had decided to govern themselves. The committee asked Thomas Jefferson to write a draft (first try) of the document, so he worked for days, in absolute secret, until he had written a document that he thought said everything important that the committee had discussed. On June 28, 1776, the committee met to read Jefferson’s “fair” copy (he put his best ideas together and wrote them neatly.) They revised (made some changes) the document and declared their independence on July 2, 1776. They officially adopted it (made it theirs) on July 4, 1776. That is why we call it “Independence Day.” Congress ordered that all members must sign the Declaration of Independence and they all began signing the “official” copy on August 2, 1776. In January of the next year, Congress sent signed copies to all of the states.

The Declaration of Independence is more than just a piece of paper. It is a symbol of our country’s independence and commitment to certain ideas. A symbol is something that stands for something else. Most people can look at a certain little “swoosh” and know that it stands for “Nike.” Well, the signers of the Declaration of Independence wanted the citizens of the United States to have a document that spelled out what was important to our leaders and citizens. They wanted us to be able to look at the Declaration of Independence and immediately think of the goals we should always be working for, and about the people who have fought so hard to make these ideas possible. The people who signed the Declaration risked being hanged for treason by the leaders in Great Britain. They had to be very brave to sign something that would be considered a crime! So every time we look at the Declaration of Independence, we should think about all of the effort and ideas that went into the document, and about the courage it took for these people to stand up for what they knew was right — independence!

I hope you enjoyed this and I wish each and every one of you a safe & happy 4th of July!

Easy Summer Hikes – Smoky Mountain Hiking

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Summer hikers are often drawn to water and the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Above 5000 feet, the summer temperatures are often 10 to 15 degrees cooler than in the lowlands. Here are some suggestions to get you out onto some of the Park’s shorter, easier trails:

After hiking the Smokies, stay in your own log cabin!1. The Oconaluftee River Trail starts near Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, NC on Newfound Gap Road (US 441). The two-mile (each way) trail follows the Oconaluftee River and features exhibits that highlight the history and culture of the Cherokee people. To reach the trailhead, walk behind the visitor center and head towards the Mountain Farm Museum. The Oconaluftee River Trail goes around the Museum on the right. You also have the option of walking though the Museum, as the trail can be picked-up at the far end of the Museum.

Oconaluftee River Trail2. The Middle Prong Trail starts at the end of starts at the end of Tremont Road, which begins just west of the Townsend, TN “Y.” A walk on this old road will reward the hiker with flowers as well as waterfalls. In the first two miles you may see foamflower, toothwort, violets, wood sorrel, and trilliums.

Hike the Appalachian Trail in only 1.7 miles!3. The Appalachian Trail (AT) is accessible from Newfound Gap on Newfound Gap Road. From the parking area, cross the road and follow the famous trail for 1.7 miles to Indian Gap…now you can claim you’ve hike the Appalachian Trail…I won’t tell a soul. The AT straddles the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee for most of its length through the park. Visitors can enjoy a short stroll to stretch their legs or a multi-day backpacking excursion on the AT as it runs through the park. The AT actually runs approximately 2, 175 miles from Georgia to Maine. Andrew Thompson currently holds the time record for hiking the AT in 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes in 2005.
Stay in Gatlinburg & Hike the Spruce Fir Nature Trail!4. The Spruce-Fir Nature Trail starts off Clingman’s Dome Road (watch for the sign). This half-mile loop features an informative brochure keyed to numbered posts. The Spruce-Fir Trail isn’t on the official trail map, but is a maintained trail by the Park service. This is a short easy hike through a beautiful spruce-fir forest, as the name would imply. As you wind your way around the loop, you’ll notice several large quartz rocks on the ground, which, at first glance, look like blocks of leftover ice and snow.

5. The half-mile Trail to Clingman’s Dome starts at the end of Clingman’s Dome Road. This paved, but very steep trail leads to the highest point in the park.

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Is there a topic you would like to see covered at A Day In The Smokies? Email us!

This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.