Discover Crafts & Cooking at Ribfest & Mountainfest in the Smoky Mountains

By Bennie McCann © 2009, All Rights Reserved

During the months of April and May, a trip to the Smoky Mountains will provide you with a truly southern experience. It’s then that you’ll find festivals filled with delicious southern food, down home southern hospitality and some soulful southern music. Get your taste buds ready for a treat as local restaurants cook up a few of their specialties. Listen to some rock and roll, blues and country music that your feet won’t stay still for. And don’t forget the warm hospitality so famous in the south. If you’re looking for a great getaway, Gatlinburg is the place to be.

Ribfest and Wings Festival

How many ways can you barbeque a rib? Let’s see…there’s dry rub where the ribs are cooked with seasoning instead of barbeque sauce. Wet ribs that are cooked with sauce (mustard or tomato-based). And then there are all the variations of dry rub seasonings or sauce ingredients plus different methods for cooking the ribs. The possibilities are endless!

Wings are another favorite finger food. The question with wings, though, is how hot is too hot? They can start at mild and go so hot that a fire extinguisher is needed. Not into heat? You'll also find dozens of different flavors including teriyaki, Cajun and plenty more. No matter how you like them, Gatlinburg’s Ribfest and Wings Festival is the place to be. Imagine a street party in the Smoky Mountains with lots of delicious ribs and wings to pig out on. That’s exactly what this festival is all about.

Toward the end of April each year, people in Gatlinburg follow their noses to find the source of a truly wonderful smell. Numerous vendors set up shop at River Road and Ripley’s Aquarium and start cranking out mouthwatering ribs and wings. The incredible aroma stretches for miles around. It’s enough to make you drool.

This is the perfect opportunity to try something different. Purchase an armband for a small price that allows you to taste test as many ribs and wings as you can hold. Don’t have much time or worried about overdoing it? Just buy one or two samples at a time. Either way, your appetite is sure to be satisfied.

And The Winner Is…

Pay close attention while you’re eating. There are six different categories of awards for the best ribs and wings. Each person gets to cast his or her vote on their personal favorites. So while the scrumptious taste will tempt you to wolf down your food, eat slowly enough to get a true sense of the flavor. It may take several tastes before you can name your pick for the People’s Choice Award. Take your time and enjoy the live entertainment that can be heard up and down the streets.

This is not an adults-only event. Children are also encouraged to attend and will enjoy face painting and other activities that are provided.

Gatlinburg’s Mountainfest

May brings another memorable festival: Gatlinburg’s Mountainfest. Learn about the lifestyle of the Appalachian people as you watch demonstrations from local artists. These craftsmen will show you craft-making techniques that have been handed down in this area for generations.

Do fried potatoes and onions sound good? How about beans and cornbread or fried green tomatoes? Those are just a few of the southern dishes you’ll find at Mountainfest. Local restaurants offer some of their mouthwatering southern cuisine to those attending the festival.

Gatlinburg is a place filled with deep southern heritage. Experience a part of the south when you enjoy the great food, music, crafts and entertainment available in the Smoky Mountains during April and May.

Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Pigeon Forge rental cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains. Visit out main website today at to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.