Rocky Top Sports World Celebrates Year Two: 80-acre Campus Triumphs Again with $27.5 Million Economic Impact

Phillip Fulmer Hall of Fame Football Camp.

Phillip Fulmer Hall of Fame Football Camp.

In sports terms, it is considered a slam dunk. For Sevier County, the success of Rocky Top Sports World is measured in economic impact. After recording a $17.5 million economic impact in the first year of operation, the facility continued to over-deliver in 2015-16. The award winning complex surpassed targets by 83% recording a $27.5 million economic impact. Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner stated, “It’s amazing to see the amount of positive change that Rocky Top has brought to the city.” Visitors at the facility, ranging from all ages and locations, have the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a world-class sporting venue in addition to the splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The venue also exceeded event forecasts by 51% in hosting a record 53 multi-sport, multi-day events. “The continued support from the community, along with the leaders of the City of Gatlinburg and Sevier County, has led Rocky Top Sports World to another successful year,” said Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters.

Notable year two achievements include being named a ‘Top Nine Facility’ by Sports Planning Guide and a ‘Top Ten Recently Opened Facility to Watch’ by Connect Sports and Collinson Media. Rocky Top Sports World also aided in doubling team attendance in the ‘Queen of the Mountain’ Volleyball Tournament in February 2016 and hosted the inaugural Phillip Fulmer Hall of Fame Football Camp. “The City of Gatlinburg is extremely pleased with Rocky Top’s performance over the past two years. The significant growth in year two confirms, yet again, that this was the right choice for Gatlinburg and Sevier County”, added Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle.

Rocky Top Sports World will continue to grow in 2016-17 with the addition of exciting new events including “Battle in Smokies” by National Exposure Basketball and “Smoky Mountain Showdown” by Top of the Bay Lacrosse.

The venue is managed by The Sports Facility Management (SFM). Founder and CEO Dev Pathik said, “Rocky Top is a great example of public officials working collaboratively to bring a vision to life. It’s a pleasure to serve Sevier County and The City of Gatlinburg.”

Rocky Top Sports World also offers and hosts birthday parties, corporate functions, and sports banquets. For more information on the venue, facility rentals, or event information, visit or call 865.325.0044.

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SMSWF Garth Brooks’ Hit Writers Concert Honoring Life and Legacy of Kim Williams

Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival is fast approaching, and this year some of country music’s biggest songwriters hope to honor the life and legacy of hit writer Kim Williams.

Williams invited fellow Garth Brooks’ songwriters to join him onstage in Gatlinburg for a concert featuring the group of writers. Williams passed away in February, but in loving memory of him, those writers will perform on Saturday, August 27 at the Glenstone Lodge in Gatlinburg. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Kim Williams.

Kim Williams.

A native of East Tennessee, Kim Williams wrote 16 #1 hits and 28 Top-10 songs in Country, Bluegrass and Gospel music. His most storied success came from co-writing Garth Brooks’ #1 hits “Papa Loved Mama,” “It’s Midnight Cinderella,” “She’s Gonna Make It” and “Ain’t Goin’ Down ‘Til The Sun Comes Up.” Williams also wrote “Three Wooden Crosses,” performed by Randy Travis; “Fall In Love,” by Kenny Chesney; “Honky Tonk Truth,” by Brooks & Dunn; “She Loved A Lot In Her Time,” by George Jones, along with many others.

Brooks writers Pat Alger, writer of “The Thunder Rolls,” Tony Arata, writer of “The Dance,” Kent Blazy, writer of “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” and Sylvia, the country music artist who took “Nobody” to the top of the charts in 1982 will all perform at the Garth Brooks’ Hit Writers Concert.

The 5th Annual Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival is August 24 to August 28. More than 130 concerts and songwriting workshops will take place over the span of five days at multiple businesses across downtown Gatlinburg.

For more information on Garth Brooks’ Hit Writers Concert or other performances and workshops happening during Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival, visit

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Taste of Autumn 2016: A Night Full of Food and Comedy

Gatlinburg is kicking off the fall season with a celebrity filled night packed with delicious food from area restaurants and hilarious comedy at the 19th Annual Taste of Autumn on Thursday, September 15 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This year, Taste of Autumn will feature the hilarious stand-up comedy of one of America’s funniest and most recognized comedians, Henry Cho.

Cho is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and has been entertaining fans for more than 30 years, often using his childhood experiences as an Asian American in the South in his comedy performances. “I’m an Asian with a Southern accent,” said Cho. “To a lot of people, that right there is funny.” Cho’s most notable appearances have been on television. He first stepped into the national spotlight appearing on Bob Hope’s Young Comedian Special. Since then, he has performed on the Arsenio Hall Show, made six appearances on The Tonight Show, toured with Reba McEntire, Amy Grant, Brooks and Dunn, and appeared in the films “McHale’s Navy” and “Say It Isn’t So.”

Comedian Henry Cho.

Comedian Henry Cho.

For 18 years, the proceeds from Taste of Autumn have been donated to United Way of Sevier County, raising more than $175,000 for important community programs provided to the residents of Sevier County. “We are so glad to have partnered with a great organization like United Way of Sevier County for so long in support of their cause,” said Gatlinburg Director of Events Jim Downs. “The great restaurants we’re going to have combined with such a highly recognized act like comedian Henry Cho will make for a night of food and laughs that people won’t want to miss.”

Taste of Autumn will be held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Tickets are $25, and children 5 and under are free. A reserved table for a party of 10 is available for $300. A corporate VIP package for a party of 10 is available for $500 and includes priority seating, meet and greet with the talent and wine on the table. Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg is offering special room packages for out of town attendees who wish to incorporate a weekend getaway. To book a special rate room, visit or call (865) 436-0048. A portion of proceeds will benefit United Way of Sevier County, an organization focused on partnering with community members and creating lasting changes in community conditions.

Food for the event will be provided by: Vista Grill, Dixie Stampede, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, Wine A Little, Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin, The Melting Pot, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Taste of Italy, Coca-Cola, BJ&S BBQ, Dick’s Last Resort, The Fox and Parrot Tavern, Collier Convention and Catering, Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Tickets can be purchased at the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce office at 811 East Parkway, either of the two Gatlinburg Welcome Centers or from the United Way of Sevier County office. Tickets may also be purchased online at

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Gatlinburg’s Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre Receives Senate Proclamation Honoring 40th Anniversary

Sweet Fanny Adams Proclamation[1]

Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre in Gatlinburg was honored Friday night as State Senator Doug Overbey helped present the official Senate Proclamation recognizing the theatre’s 40th season of performing shows.

Don and Pat MacPherson founded Sweet Fanny Adams in May of 1977, making it the longest running entertainment theater in the Smokies. Since then, it has become a staple family business, ushering three generations of the MacPherson family into the acting world through the theatre. The Old English architectural style of the theatre gives the feel of being in a music hall from the 1890s and sets the stage for live, original musical comedies and vaudeville type humor.

The Great Victorian Amusement Company, Sweet Fanny Adam’s multi-talented cast, includes Chris MacPherson, Jennifer MacPherson-Evans, Tim Coleman, Kara Van Veghel, Jeremy Gregoire and Savannah Robinson.

The Senate Proclamation stated, in part, “For 40 years, Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre has established an outstanding tradition of quality entertainment and is a tremendous asset to the Gatlinburg community and to Tennessee. We are proud to commend the family and cast of this historic Gatlinburg treasure.”

The 40th season of Sweet Fanny Adams is currently presenting two original shows: “Ramblings of a Plaid Mind” and “Cowboy, The Life and Times of Billy Kincaid.” In November, the theatre will begin their Christmas show performances.

For more information or to purchase tickets for Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, visit or call (877) 388-5784.

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Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival Back for 5th Year

The sounds of some of the biggest hits in country, gospel and bluegrass music will resonate through the streets of Gatlinburg when Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival comes to town August 24 through August 28. The festival, now in its fifth season, will feature over 130 acts of songwriters and musicians who have shaped the top Billboard charts for generations as well as those just getting started in the music industry.

Smoky Mountain Songwriters FestivalNew to the festival this year is a special concert tribute entitled “Garth Brooks’ Hit Writers Concert,” happening Saturday, August 27 at Glenstone Lodge. The late Kim Williams, renowned songwriter for Garth Brooks who wrote hits like “Papa Loves Mama” and “Ain’t Going Down Til The Sun Comes Up,” invited fellow Garth hits writers to join him on stage at The Glenstone this year. In remembrance of Kim Williams, fellow writers Pat Alger, Tony Arata, Kent Blazy and Sylvia will perform their Garth hits on the stage of Glenstone in loving memory of him. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at or at the door, if any remain, for $25.

Also a new addition this year, SMSWF is partnering with Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort to host a variety of concerts throughout the day from Friday, August 26 to Sunday, August 28. The resort will also feature two ticketed concerts happening Friday and Saturday night with respective acts, Emi Sunshine and the Farm Hands Quartet. Tickets can be purchased online at

The festival not only offers free concerts to music lovers wanting to come and hear their favorite songs performed by the musicians who originally wrote them, but also provides aspiring artists and songwriters the chance to participate in co-writing events, songwriting workshops and critiquing sessions with hall of fame songwriters taking place throughout the weekend.

“This really is a music festival unlike any other in the Southeast,” said Festival Director and Founder, Cyndy Montgomery Reeves. “We’ve taken the past four years and expanded upon them in a way that makes this year’s event something people will be extremely glad they came to and have them marking their calendars to come for future years.”

The lineup includes hit songwriters: Bobby Tomberlin- writer of “One More Day” by Diamond Rio, Chris Wallin- writer of “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney, Mark Narmore- writer of “That’s What I Love About Sunday” by Craig Morgan, Will Nance-writer of “She’s Everything” by Brad Paisley, Doug Johnson- writer of “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis. Those are just a few of the many songwriters performing at this year’s festival.

Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival is Wednesday, August 24 to Sunday, August 28. For more information on venue locations or to find the complete schedule of live performances and workshops, visit For more information on Gatlinburg and lodging, visit or call 800-588-1817.

Official sponsors for the 2016 Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival are WIVK FM 107.7, The Historic Gatlinburg Inn, Sugarlands Distilling Co., Crystelle Creek Restaurant & Grill, BOSE, Sound Biscuit Productions, Highland Brewing Company, Lorelei Video Productions, Cabins of the Smoky Mountains, Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery, Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill, The Edgewater Hotel and Conference Center, The Park Vista, Brookside Resort, Quality Inn, Greystone Lodge at the Aquarium, Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg, Reagan Hotels, White Oak Lodge & Resort, Crossroads Inn & Suites, Best Western- Crossroads Inn & Suites, Best Western Twin Islands, Clarion Inn & Suites of Gatlinburg, Hampton Inn, Kingwood Inn Gatlinburg, Glenstone Lodge, Food City, ASCAP, Country Cobbler of Gatlinburg, AUDIX Microphones, Smoky Mountains Around Town, Steel String Productions, The Bay Dreamers, Music Outlet, Beard Music Group and Cherokee Distributing.

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Gatlinburg Recognized by TripAdvisor As Top Summer Rental Destination

Deck View From Gatlinburg Cabin
TripAdvisor and its users have once again recognized Gatlinburg as one of the top vacation spots in the United States. Gatlinburg received a ranking of 8 out of the “25 Most Popular Summer Vacation Rental Spots in the US.”

Gatlinburg received an average vacation rental review score of 4.4 out of 5, with one reviewer saying, “A memorable stay in a beautiful area. Our vacation home was thoughtfully decorated, and the views were gorgeous. The location was lovely and quiet- away from the hustle and bustle, but close enough to travel to restaurants and attractions.

“We are so thrilled to receive such high praise from our visitors on TripAdvisor,” said Chad Netherland, Director of Marketing for Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have so many options for vacation rentals in Gatlinburg, and the popularity of our direct booking engine on has proven to be an extremely efficient tool for our visitors in ensuring they get the exact accommodations for whatever their lodging preference is.”

In their article, TripAdvisor also brings to light the affordability of the vacation rentals on the list, providing vacationers the chance to budget for more activities they may want to take part in once at their destination. TripAdvisor had this to say: “ A Smoky Mountain getaway that boasts as many scenic vistas and spectacular hikes as funky boutiques and local distilleries, Gatlinburg is a unique vacation spot you must experience for yourself.”

For more information or to book your Gatlinburg vacation, visit or call (800) 588-1817.

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Moore Named Rocky Top Sports World General Manager

After a nationwide search, The Sports Facilities Management is pleased to announce the promotion of Lori McMahan Moore as General Manager of Rocky Top Sports World. Moore, a Sevier County native and graduate of the University of Tennessee, previously served as Director of Marketing and Business Development and Interim General Manager at the facility.

Lori McMahan Moore

Lori McMahan Moore

Cindy Cameron Ogle, Gatlinburg City Manager and member of the Rocky Top Sports World Sports Advisory Committee, commented, “Lori has been a great asset to Rocky Top Sports World from the beginning and we know that she is going to continue to thrive and lead Rocky Top to further success.”

In 2015, Moore was awarded the designation of ‘Top 9 Women in Sports Tourism’ by Connect Sports Magazine and Collinson Media. The Rocky Top Sports World team has received numerous accolades, including a 2015 Champion of Economic Impact Award by Sports Destination Management Magazine and was recently recognized as a “Top Nine Facility for 2016” by Sports Planning Guide.

Founder and CEO of SFM/SFA Dev Pathik stated, “Lori was the first employee we placed at Rocky Top. Since then, she has become a national figure in the sports tourism marketplace and has been widely recognized among event and tournament owners as a trusted industry leader. SFM is pleased to announce her as the General Manager for Rocky Top Sports World.”

Moore currently serves as Chair of the Leadership Sevier Board and is a member of the National Association of Sports Commissions Mentoring Committee. She serves on numerous local boards and enjoys coaching youth athletics.

For further information, visit, or call 865.325.0044.

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Celebrating Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg: Begins July 18 Through July 24

The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is hosting a week packed with special activities for arts and crafts lovers, and visitors are invited to the crafts community for a week full of fun.

Gatlinburg’s treasured arts and crafts community is comprised of more than 100 shops over an eight-mile loop, making it the largest grouping of independent artisans in North America. From July 18 to July 24, shops will hold special hands on activities, prize drawings and give away special goodies the whole family will love.

Maria Holloway Quilt

In addition to the special drawings occurring in shops around the community, all names submitted during that period will be thrown into a hat for a Grand Drawing to be announced July 29. The grand prize-winner will receive a handmade “Churches of Cades Cove” themed quilt crafted by nationally renowned quilter Maria Holloway.

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is located off Highway 321and Glades Road at traffic light #3A and Buckhorn Road at Pittman Center. For more information, visit or call Visitor Information at 800-588-1817.

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Winners Announced for 4th of July Midnight Parade and River Raft Regatta

IMG_7870 copy

Gatlinburg celebrated the 41st Anniversary of the 4th of July Midnight Parade in grand style. More than 70,000 people lined the Parkway for the mile long parade honoring US Veterans and military heroes. Parade entries came from as far away as Minnesota to march in the parade. The 100th Army Band from Fort Knox, Kentucky also marched in the parade and provided patriotic concerts over the course of the holiday.

During the parade, Gatlinburg visitors were entertained by elaborately decorated and lighted floats from local attractions and area businesses, community organizations, marching bands, local pubic safety agencies and more. The Litchfield Marching Dragons from Minnesota, the Baltimore Twilighters and the Baltimore Entertainers also marched in the parade along with featured floats, giant balloons and exotic cars.

The River Raft Regatta, held at noon on Monday, July 4th, was well attended, with more than 120 entries. Participants from Tennessee, Wisconsin, West Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio and Kentucky brought entries for racing on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.

To wrap up the 4th of July festivities, visitors gathered in downtown Gatlinburg to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display just after dark. The 100th Army Band entertained visitors by accompanying the fireworks show.

Join the Gatlinburg conversation via social media; like us at For more information about Gatlinburg and other summer events, call 1-800-588-1817 or visit our website at


Best Professional Float
1st – Ripley’s Entertainment

Best Original Entry
1st – Dixie Stampede/Lumberjack Adventure
2nd – Cuzzin’ Eddie’s Toors
3rd – Ole Smoky Moonshine

Best Use of Lights
1st – Ripley’s Entertainment
2nd – Litchfield Marching Dragons
3rd – Dixie Stampede/Lumberjack Adventure

Most Entertaining Float/Unit
1st – Litchfield Marching Dragons
2nd – Ripley’s Entertainment
3rd – Kerbela Shriners

Best Marching Band
1st – Litchfield Marching Dragons
2nd – Baltimore Twilighters Marching Band
3rd – 100th Army Band


Oldest Entrant: Pauleen Green from Powder Springs, GA – 85 years old
Youngest Entrant: Abe Griswold from South Carolina – 1 year old

1st: Allen Bonar – Falmouth, KY
2nd: Jane Holman – Maumee, OH
3rd: Tracy Porter – Genoa, WV

1st: Brett Bonar – Falmouth, KY
2nd: Andrew Addis – South Carolina
3rd: Alan Stuller – Milwaukee, WI

The Benniger Family

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Gatlinburg Receives STS Top 20 Accolades: Recognized for Eight Special Events

Gatlinburg's Chili Cookoff.

Gatlinburg’s Chili Cookoff.

Downtown Gatlinburg is always a happening place for visitors and locals alike, and Gatlinburg’s special events throughout the year help add a festive feel to the Gatlinburg experience.

Southeast Tourism Society has recognized that authenticity and rewarded accordingly by naming eight Gatlinburg special events atop their Top 20 Events list for 2016.

The events receiving the STS honor are Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival, Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, Gatlinburg’s 4th of July Midnight Parade, Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival, Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff, Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, and Gatlinburg New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show and Ball Drop.

“We are so honored to receive this high praise from STS,” said Vicki Simms, Executive Director of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have a fantastic staff that work tirelessly throughout the year to make our events top notch. In addition to that, many volunteers, our ambassadors and the City of Gatlinburg provide their valuable time to ensure the success of our events staff.”

STS chooses the Top 20 events for each month of the year and publishes the list quarterly. For more information about Gatlinburg events going on throughout the year, visit or call 800-588-1817.

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