Jimmy Lane: Dollywood part of the pleasure of Pigeon Forge

Jimmy Lane

Last week we suggested a great vacation destination for country music fans is Branson, Mo. This week we’ll look at another popular place to go for country music lovers -- Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Like Branson, Pigeon Forge is surrounded by the natural beauty of mountains, rivers and lakes. Pigeon Forge is five miles north of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. 

Pigeon Forge’s biggest and most famous attraction is Dollywood. Dollywood is a theme park partly owned by and named after Dolly Parton. It features all the standard amusement park rides, plus traditional mountain music on numerous stages. There is a water park, dinner theater and lots of local crafts. Each year Dolly makes limited concert appearances in the park. 

The park is organized into nine themed areas, including a section dedicated to the life and history of Dolly Parton. There is much emphasis on using the park as a way to preserve the heritage of the Smokey Mountain pioneers. A common sight on a smaller stage would be a family band playing washboards, large brown bottles and singing “Rocky Top.” Try a ride on the steam train, but protect your valuables, as outlaws frequently stop and rob the passengers. 

When you plan your stay in Pigeon Forge, there are many options. Hundreds of hotels line the U.S. Route 441 strip. Many people enjoy the bed and breakfasts or the quaint cottages in the heart of the mountain range. Route 441 is also known as “the strip,” and most of Pigeon Forge’s tourist attractions can be found there. Play miniature golf, ride go-karts or shop at the many outlet malls.

In addition to Dollywood, Pigeon Forge is home to the Southern Gospel Museum, the Country Tonight Theater, the Comedy Barn and the Miracle Theater. Lee Greenwood and Louise Mandrell are regular performers at the musical theaters in town. 

Because of the natural beauty and many attractions, more than 11 million people visit the Pigeon Forge area each year. It is a great place to bring your family this year for a summer vacation. 

Country tidbits: Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts topped the list of platinum certifications for the month of May. Swift’s self-titled debut album was certified triple platinum for shipments of more than 3 million since its 2006 release. Swift also achieved gold mastertone certification for more than 500,000 ringtone downloads of her single, “Our Song.” Rascal Flatts’ “Still Feels Good” was certified double platinum for 2 million shipments. ... Dobro master Jerry Douglas has been named the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2008 artist-in-residence.The Ohio-born musician will perform four nights at the museum’s Ford Theater to illustrate different facets of his career. ... Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus are among the nominees for “Teen Choice 2008,” a fan-voted awards show airing Aug. 4 on Fox. In the music category, Swift is nominated for the breakout artist in a field that also includes Colbie Caillat, Flo Rida, Jordin Sparks and Leona Lewis.

Jimmy Lane is a disc jockey and program director at WCTY (97.7 FM) in Norwich, Conn. E-mail him at jimmy@wcty.com.

Norwich Bulletin