Saddle Up! Festival in Pigeon Forge
By Bennie McCann © 2009, All Rights Reserved

Hold on to your hats all you wannabe cowboys.  The ninth annual Saddle Up! Festival in Pigeon Forge arrives in February and guarantees several days of fun and excitement for real cowpokes and those that just like to pretend.  Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeastern Tourism Society, Saddle Up! offers live western music and poetry as well as chuck wagon cookoffs, a western swing dance and cowboy church on Sunday.  It’s good family fun for all ages and it’s located in the breathtaking Smoky Mountains.

At Saddle Up! you’ll find some of the best western musicians and cowboy poets in the country.  Just take a look at a few of the award-winning entertainers.

Wylie and the Wild West – This group was named Western Music Association’s 2008 Cowboy/Western Swing Group of the Year.  They’ve performed over 50 times at the Grand Ole Opry.  Wylie even made an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, where he tried to teach Conan the art of yodeling.

The Quebe Sisters Band – Just listen to the three-part harmony of these talented ladies, combined with fiddles, swing guitar and upright bass and it’s easy to see why they were recently named Group of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists.  The Quebe Sisters are also proud recipients of the Western Music Association’s Crescendo Award.

Juni Fisher – This gifted singer/songwriter also received awards from the Western Music Association for 2007 Song of the Year as well as 2008 Songwriter of the Year.  Can't wait to see what will happen in 2009!

Andy Wilkinson – Former policeman and businessman, Andy’s unique style of songwriting will both entertain and inspire those who hear him.

Andy Hedges – A reciter, singer and guitarist; his first music album was described as eclectic, country folk.  You'll love his unique sound.

Saddle Up! has a long list of events for the fun-filled weekend.  Whether you take in one or all of them, you’re bound to have a memorable time.  Start with one of the concerts at the Smoky Mountain Jubilee Theater and then check out the Cowboy Symphony with Wylie and the Wild West at the Country Tonite Theatre

With all that toe tappin' and hand clappin' you’re sure to work up an appetite, so don’t forget about the Old Mill Chuck Wagon Cookoff at Belle Island Village.  Clabough’s Campground and RV Resort is the site of an additional Chuck Wagon Cookoff.  There will definitely be plenty to eat for every cowboy or cowgirl around.  The western swing dance at the Music Road Convention Center is the perfect time to put on those cowboy boots and take a whirl around the dance floor.  There’s even a cowboy church on Sunday at Stages West followed by a chuck wagon lunch. 

While cowboy church is free, other events do require tickets or minimal donations.  Tickets can be purchased in advance from the Country Tonite Theater or beginning the day of the festival at the Smoky Mountain Jubilee Theater or the Grand Majestic Theater. 

If you’re a cowboy or just a fan of country music, don’t miss this exciting opportunity to step back in time as you enjoy the Saddle Up! Festival in Pigeon Forge.  One visit may be all it takes to make this Smoky Mountain festival a family tradition.