One of the best things about Pigeon Forge, TN is that there always seems to be something new to see or do. Whether you’re traveling as a family, a group, or even an individual, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From unique hotels and lodging to an abundance of shops, to diverse and eclectic dining options, to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities, it’s no wonder this tiny town nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains attracts tourists from all over the world.
One of our favorite times of year to visit is in the fall. Autumn visitors can enjoy cooler temperatures and take in the beautiful fall foliage. Plus, there are lots of great events happening in and around Pigeon Forge this fall. Here are a few to check out!
Sevier County Fair
Nothing says “country fun” like a good, old-fashioned, county fair. Located just under 15 minutes from Pigeon Forge, Sevierville is home to the annual Sevier County Fair. This year’s event will run from August 30th through September 5th and feature classic fair staples, including an exhibit hall, livestock shows, free contests, live entertainment and music, and of course, tons of delicious fair food.
In addition to the more typical offerings, the fair also delves into lots of unique contests, competitions, and exhibitions. For the food lovers out there, stop by to watch (or, if you’re brave enough, participate in) a variety of eating contests, like atomic wing eating, BBQ eating, corn on the cob eating, and even pickle eating.
Most exhibition categories boast youth and adult divisions, giving all ages a chance to showcase their work. There are even coloring book pages and magic marker divisions for the youngest artists, starting with students in Pre-K. One of the more unique categories (and possibly our favorite) is the Lego exhibition, which showcases impressive works created by all ages.
Children (and the young at heart) may enjoy the carnival rides, contests, and sweet treats, while adults can take in entertainment, live music, and even the fair’s own beauty pageant. If you’re in the area, this fair is definitely a can’t-miss destination.
Smoky Mountain Air Show
For those looking for entertainment that’s a little higher octane, be sure to check out the Smoky Mountain Air Show. Held at the Tennessee Air National Guard Base in Knoxville, Tennessee, this year’s show will take place on September 10thand 11th.
The base is ready with a full day’s itinerary of displays, exhibits, and performances, so those who want to see it all may consider arriving when the parking lots open at 7:00 AM. While there is a parking pass fee, admission to the event is free. Because there is no seating provided, attendees may want to bring their own blankets or chairs to sit on throughout the day.
Once the gates open at 8:00 AM, there will be no shortage of things to see or do. Starting in the morning, and lasting until the gates close at 5:00 PM, there will be static displays to explore, vendors to peruse, exhibits to take in, a kids’ area where the little ones can play, and a rotating schedule of live performances on the music stage.
Opening ceremonies begin at 11:00 AM before the main event starts around noon. From roughly 12:00-4:00, weather permitting, guests can watch as highly trained pilots fearlessly defy gravity, performing tricks, stunts, and flyovers of all kinds throughout the afternoon. This beloved and the highly anticipated event is a highlight of the Smoky Mountains event calendar and happens only once a year, so if you’re in the area, be sure not to miss it!
Fall Rod Run
Car enthusiasts, this one is for you. Held in The LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, the Fall Rod Run is the largest car show in the area. With roots dating back to the 1970s, what started as a small annual event has now become a three-day automotive extravaganza, attracting car-lovers, restorers, and collectors from near and far.
This year, the Fall Rod Run will be held from September 15th-17th. During this time, hundreds of show cars will be available for viewing, with awards being presented for the top 25, ultimate five, and “King of the Hill.” There will also be a $10,000 cash giveaway, presented at the culmination of Saturday night’s awards show.
Free parking and a free shuttle bus service will be offered to attendees, and the area is also accessible to pedestrians. Daily tickets are available for purchase, as well as a three-day pass, sold at a discounted rate. Please note that tickets can only be purchased on-site; there are no advance ticket sales. Also, be sure to bring cash, and credit cards are not accepted for ticket purchases.
Whether visiting for one day or all three, casual car enthusiasts and seasoned experts alike will all find something to enjoy at the Pigeon Forge Fall Rod Run.
Dollywood Harvest Festival
For many, the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Pigeon Forge is a vision of Dolly Parton. Born and raised in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Dolly grew to become one of the most iconic musicians and celebrities of her generation. Her mark on the area still remains, from her amazing charity work and Imagination Library foundation to one of the region’s biggest attractions, Dollywood.
A part theme park, part homage to her country home upbringing, Dollywood is packed with rides, live shows, great food, and pieces of Dolly’s own history. Each fall, they celebrate the season with a robust celebration that encompasses the entire park – Dollywood’s Harvest Festival.
Visitors who attend Dollywood between September 23rd and October 29th will experience a completely transformed park that celebrates fall in the mountains at every turn. Pumpkins, gourds, and fall decorations can be seen everywhere. Autumn and Halloween-themed jack-0-lanterns and themed sculptures light up the night sky, setting a tone of whimsy and wonder. A live pumpkin display showcases giant pumpkins weighing up to 1500 pounds, and world-class artisans from around the country make special appearances to showcase their work.
Of course, no visit to Dollywood would be complete without great music. During the Harvest Festival, dozens of bands and musicians can be heard throughout the park, performing country, bluegrass, and southern gospel tunes against the backdrop of the stunning fall foliage of the Great Smoky Mountains.
For a feel-good, all-encompassing celebration of fall, augmented with a little bit of Dolly Parton’s infamous sparkle, be sure to check out Dollywood’s Harvest Festival!
There’s no shortage of unique events to experience and beautiful sights to see in and around Pigeon Forge in the autumn. Wherever your fall visit takes you, we wish you a wonderful trip!