East TN Spring Events Include Festivals, Food and Fun in the Smokies

Spring has arrived in East Tennessee, which means warmer weather and seasonal celebrations.

Although the spread of COVID-19 has caused many organizers to cancel events in 2020, vaccinations and safety guidelines are allowing familiar favorites to return and new festivals to begin.

If your family is looking for something to do, check out these East Tennessee events happening this spring.


Ponies in the Smokies 2021 (March 24-27)

Every spring, a rush of Mustangs takes over Pigeon Forge. But these are not wild horses; these are classic Ford Mustangs at the Ponies In The Smokies car show. This year’s show will take place at the Sevierville Event Center from March 24-27.

Visit poniesinthesmokies.com to buy tickets and find out more.

Pigeon Forge Chuck Wagon Cookoff (March 26-28)

Before fancy food trucks served hungry hipsters, chuck carts fed cowboys on the open prairies at cattle drives. The Pigeon Forge Chuck Wagon Cookoff celebrates the original kitchen on wheels the weekend of March 26.

Cooking starts Saturday at the Clabough Campground and RV Park. Find out more and buy tickets at mypigeonforge.com/event/cookoff.


The Great Smoky Easter Arts and Crafts Show (April 1-3)

Shop for one-of-a-kind handmade gifts and watch one-of-a-kind craft demonstrations at the Great Smoky Easter Arts & Crafts Show taking place April 1-3 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Members of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts community will be at the event to show off their skills, answer questions, and sell their art during this free event.

Learn more about gatlinburgcrafts.com.

Anakeesta’s Blooms and Tunes (April 2-May 23)

Celebrate spring at Anakeesta’s Blooms and Tunes, April 2-May 23 at the outdoor theme park.

Visitors will be able to view Anakeesta’s nature-inspired art installations, listen to live music from local bands, and enjoy spring-themed food at the park’s four restaurants.

Anakeesta schedules and tickets are available at anakeesta.com.

Great Knoxville Zoo Egg Hunt (April 3)

The Knoxville Zoo invites kids on an epic Egg Hunt in the park. The Easter Bunny will hide 10,000 eggs throughout the Knoxville Zoo, including special golden eggs that attendees can redeem for prizes.

After the hunt, each child will receive a souvenir. While families are in the park, they can meet some of the Knoxville Zoo animals and take pictures with the animal of the hour: the Easter Bunny.

Tickets will soon be available on zooknoxville.org.

Bunny Hopper Express (April 3-4)

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad passengers will need to keep an eye out for hopping bunnies as trains sneak aboard for a free ride on the Bunny Hopper Express tour April 2-3.

The train will depart from Bryson City Depot at 10:30 a.m. for the four-and-a-half-hour special event. Runners will travel along the Nantahala Gorge River to a scenic rest destination for Easter-themed activities and an egg hunt.

Find out more and buy tickets at Great Smoky Mountains Railroad website.

Spring Rod Run 2021 (April 15-17)

Car enthusiasts can’t miss the Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run, the region’s largest automotive event taking place April 15-17 at the LeConte Center.

The weekend-long event features more show cars, vendors and entertainment than ever before. Learn more about pigeonforgerodruns.com.

Dogwood Arts Festival (April 23-25)

The Dogwood Arts Festival is expanding in 2021 and will feature a fine arts market, live music, artist demonstrations and hands-on activities for children and adults.

The free event will take place April 23-25 ​​at World’s Fair Park. Find out more and book a ticket at dogwoodarts.com/dogwoodartsfestival.

Dollywood Flower and Food Festival (April 23 – June 7)

One of Dollywood’s instant fan favorites returns for a second year. The Flower & Food Festival celebrates spring with storytelling plant sculptures, interactive animations and seasonal flavors.

Plan your trip to dollywood.com.

Run with the Bears 5K Run/Walk (April 23)

Lace up your sneakers for Gatlinburg’s Running with the Bears 5K Run/Walk, an overnight road race to benefit local students with scholarships.

Learn more and register at runsignup.com/Race/TN/Gatlinburg/earthday5kgatlinburg.

The Great Smoky Mountain Food Truck Festival (April 30-May 1)

Nearly 40 food tracks head to the Little Arrow Outdoor Resort in Townsend for the Great Smoky Mountain Food Truck Festival on April 30 and May 1.

Park at Smoky Mountain River Rat and shuttle to the resort for a day by the river, complete with food, campfires, drinks and more. Follow the festival for updates and buy tickets at facebook.com/gsmFoodTruckFestival.


Circle Yer Wagens (May 1-2)

Enter stereo contests, engine sounds, and many other contests for cash prizes at Circle Yer Wagens May 1-2.

The 2021 VW Circle Yer Wagen Show will be held at the Sevier County Fairgrounds come rain or shine. Learn more about pigeonforge.com/event/circle-yer-wagens.

Hands on Gatlinburg (May 1-3)

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community Studios is offering DIY classes for all craft enthusiasts during Hands on Gatlinburg.

Whether you are interested in woodworking, basket weaving or anything in between, workshops are available. Register in advance with the artists to guarantee your place.

Participating members are listed on gatlinburg.com.

A Mountain Quiltfest (May 5-8)

A Mountain Quiltfest annually honors the art and heritage of quilting. Quilters can take classes based on their skill level and technique, and a quilt show will showcase a diverse range of quilts.

Check the schedule and register for classes on the event website.

Craft & Food Truck Show (May 7-8)

The Sevier County Fair will host the Craft and Food Truck Fair, where attendees can shop for crafts, take free craft classes, and sample fresh food from local trucks on May 7-8.

The fair will take place rain or shine and is free for everyone. Learn more about seviercountyfair.org.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 2021 (May 8-16)

The 71st Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage goes virtual in 2021. Participate from home and nearby parks using an app linked to the event.

Learn more about wildwildpilgrimage.org.

grand National F-100 Ford Show (May 13-15)

Cruise the Pigeon Forge Boardwalk in Gatlinburg during the Grand National F-100 Ford Show scheduled for May 13-15.

Show and shop all things F-100 at the LeConte Center during the three-day event.

Information, schedule and registration are available on the event website.

Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games (May 15-16)

COVID-19 prompted organizers to cancel last year’s Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games, but the event is set to be bigger than ever in 2021.

Visit the Maryville College campus on May 15 and 16 to experience authentic Scottish music, competitions, vendors and food. The festival is one of the largest in Blount County and ranks among the top Scottish festivals in the country.

Find out more and buy tickets at smokymountaingames.org.

Ober MayFest (May 21-31)

Ober Gatlinburg celebrates spring the Bavarian way during MayFest, an event that runs May 21-31.

As part of the festival, the attraction is hosting The Ober Uphill 5K on May 22. The 3.2 mile run on Ski Mountain Road has a 1,500 foot elevation gain and is not for the faint of heart.

Information and tickets available at www.obergatlinburg.com.

Smoky Mountain Bigfoot Festival (May 22)

Meet at the Townsend Visitor Center for the first Smoky Mountain Bigfoot Festival from noon to 6 p.m. on May 22.

Evidence of Bigfoot will be on display and the event will include a chainsaw competition, hot air balloon rides with Bigfoot, live music, food and more.

Follow festival updates on facebook.com/thebigfest.


Pontiacs at Pigeon Forge (June 3-6)

Mainstay Suites is Pigeon Forge hosts the 21st Pontiacs Car Show in Pigeon Forge. Participate in contests and discover classic cars for a good cause; all proceeds from the show will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Information is available at pontiacsinpigeonforge.com.

Smallmouth Bass Tournament (June 5-6)

The Sevierville Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the Smallmouth King Bass Tournament June 5-6.

The tournament allows anglers to fish the world-class smallmouth bass waters of Sevierville in the region’s premiere catch-photograph-release event.

Learn more and register at visitsevierville.com/SmallmouthBassKing.aspx.

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