Summer Fun Heats Up with July Festivals in the Smoky Mountains
By Bennie McCann © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Statistically, July is the most popular month for family vacations. In fact, a survey by Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. showed that 48% of American families would take vacation during the month of July. Think there won't be enough fun to go around? Think again!

The Smoky Mountains will be celebrating Independence Day, of course, but Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, TN, will also have a month full of goings-on in the form of festivals. Here are just a few of the fun-filled activities you can take part in during July.

4th of July Midnight Parade – July 3 – For the 33rd year, this "First July Fourth Parade in the Nation" will take place as the clock strikes midnight. Just imagine the glory of vibrant, multicolored fireworks burst against a backdrop of jet black. In the tradition of all good parades, there will be floats, giant inflatable balloons and crowds of people who all want to celebrate our country gaining its freedom from British rule. You won't want to miss the original Red Baron Stearman Biplane on display for all to see at Ripley's Aquarium.

River Raft Regatta – July 4 – If it floats, chances are you can enter it in the annual River Raft Regatta on Friday, July 4th. Make your boat out of floating rocks, sticks, paper… anything (except balls and plastic eggs) is allowed. Rubber ducks are acceptable, too! This is a great family project, giving opportunities for you all to design, build and race your ship together. Visit the Gatlinburg Recreation Department between 11:00 and noon on July 4th to enter. Registration is free.

4th of July Fireworks Show – July 4 – The official 4th of July celebration takes place in downtown Gatlinburg at 10 p.m. on Independence Day. Join all the fun as a fabulous display of amazing fireworks lights up the mountain skyline in celebration of our country's 232nd birthday.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair at Gatlinburg Convention Center – July 18-27 – It's the 33rd annual Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair and you can join in the fun. A shopper's paradise, scour the Gatlinburg Convention Center from corner to corner for gorgeous handmade leather purses and wallets, custom-made pottery sculpted right before your eyes, intricate baskets woven by local artisans and so much more. Over 200 booths of arts, crafts and music are available, plus interesting and educational exhibitions, and question-and-answer sessions. To top it off, live country and bluegrass entertainment will be on site. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales tm – June 8-September 2 – One of the most unique festivals in all of the United States. Where else can you meet the characters from the stories you've heard while walking down the street, listen to mountain music and learn about local plants and wildlife? Only in the Smoky Mountains. Learn the history of the Smokies through interactive storytelling, bluegrass music and traditional dance. Performances take place nightly on the Parkway from now until September 2, 2008.

With so much to do during the month of July, you'd better make plans early, so you can stay for a while. You won't want to miss a minute of the tunes, tales, shopping, boating and fireworks. This is what family memories are made of!

Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in cabins and chalets in the Smokies, TN. Visit the main website to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.