One of Tennessee’s tastiest and most toe-tapping festivals is set to return in the spring of 2021!
The event in question? Why, the Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival, naturally, which will be filling downtown Sevierville with some mouthwatering aromas—and some superb pickin’ and pluckin’—on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15.
The 2021 Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival: From Pit Masters to Master Pickers
Presented by the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, the Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival welcomes its 37,000 or so guests each year with free admission and an awful lot of good times.
The 16th edition of the festival was originally scheduled for May 2020, but—as with so many events—the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation. But the 2021 festival will once again be drawing ace BBQ cook teams and bluegrass/country musicians from all across the country to the stoop of the Great Smoky Mountains.
It’s a family-friendly celebration of some fundamental American culture and a wonderful chance to enjoy great food, great music, and great arts-and-crafts during Sevierville’s fragrant, flowery springtime.
On the Menu: The Bush’s Best Tennessee State Championship Cook-Off
The BBQ cook teams for the 2021 festival haven’t yet been announced, but you can rest assured they’ll be some of the nation’s leading barbecue artists. More than a ton of meat—pulled pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage, you name it—reaches smoky, tender perfection during the proceedings as the dozens of barbecue squads compete for top honors.
Awards in multiple categories are bestowed by some (lucky) judges whose palates come certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, with the Tennessee State Champion team pocketing $2,500.
Music at the Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival
Fortunately, the 2021 Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival will feature nearly all the same slate of Main Stage performers that had been scheduled for the scuttled 2020 running. Friday’s musicians include the Trinity River Band, Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier, Circus No. 9, and the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys.
On Saturday, Kentucky Just Us, Bobby Osborne, and Dave Peterson & 1946 will take to the Main Stage ahead of the festival headliner act Shenandoah. That legendary country outfit, fronted by Marty Raybon, got started in Muscle Shoals, Alabama back in 1984, and the band’s racked up an impressive share of chart-topping hits since, including “Two Dozen Roses,” “The Church on Cumberland Road,” and “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart,” which featured the one and only Alison Kraus.
There’ll be additional music on the Bush’s Best Community Stage and the Back Porch Stage, though those performers haven’t yet been announced.
Meanwhile, the Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival also features the only singing competition entirely dedicated to the songwriting of Dolly Parton, that legendary and basically universally beloved native daughter of the Smoky Mountains. Contestants from all over the U.S. take part in the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition, performing any of Parton’s several thousand penned originals and in whatever style they choose—not necessarily country or bluegrass, by any means. The competition’s split between two age divisions: 12-and-under and 13-and-up.
And speaking of Parton, Dolly Parton’s Stampede presents the festival’s Late Night Jam, which gets underway at 10 PM on Friday and rolls along into the wee hours.
Other Happenings at the Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival
The spring weekend fun at the 2021 Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival will also include a slew of arts-and-crafts vendors, the specific lineup currently scheduled to be unveiled in January.
You can indulge in a little sightseeing and learn about local history, meanwhile, on one of the Downtown Sevierville Historical Walking Tours offered both Friday and Saturday during the festival.
An Irresistible Double Whammy of Barbecue & Bluegrass in Downtown Sevierville
From the flatpicked guitars, flailing banjos, and tremoloing mandolins on stage to the plated-up goodness from the pitmasters going at it, the Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival is a Sevierville tradition not to be missed. Mark your calendars for the third weekend in May—and maybe, if you’re a Dolly diehard looking to show off your pipes in the Mountain Soul contest, start practicing your take on “Jolene” or “I Will Always Love You”…