Make plans for Pigeon Forge's 15th Annual Saddle Up

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Everyone loves an excuse to wear cowboy hats and boots, and here’s a good one that will also factor in some great travel! The 15th annual Saddle Up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee promises a celebration full of cowboy poetry, western music, two-steppin’ and chuck wagon cooking! Make plans to attend the final major event of Smoky Mountain Winterfest February 18-22, 2015!

What is Saddle Up?
This event is a carefully formulated blend of big concerts, small shows, one-act dinner shows and (my favorite) a chuck wagon cookoff! Do you love old-time cowboy songs…dream of taking a western dance class or swing fiddle class? This is your chance! While most of the music programs do require ticket purchases, some events are totally free.

Performers for 2015 are cowboy poet Baxter Black, cowboy band Wylie and the Wild West, T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up-N-Playboys, Utah singer Brenn Hill, songwriter Chuck Pyle, the husband and wife team of Jean and Gary Prescott, singer and western and Celtic fiddler Skip Gorman, western radio show host Andy Nelson and cowboy poet and chuck wagon cook Kent Rollins.

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Three multi-act concerts will be at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge (3 and 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 and 6 p.m. on Feb. 21). Tickets are $21.95, tax included. One hundred passes covering all three concerts will be sold for $60.36, tax included.

Three “Intimate Evening” dinner shows are scheduled. Kent Rollins and Jean and Gary Prescott will perform Feb. 18 at Mama’s Farmhouse. The other two are Feb. 19 at the LeConte Event Center, one with Brenn Hill and Andy Nelson, and the other with Wylie; the Wild West. Each is limited to 50 tickets ($54.88, tax inclusive).

“Stories and Strings” is a special daytime show on Feb. 20 that will feature eight of the performers as they talk about their special connections to their music. That show is at the Stages West store on the Parkway. Tickets are $21.95, tax included.

A new program for 2015 is Cowbucks Café on Feb. 19. This is a mid-morning meet-and-greet session with Saddle Up entertainers at the Pottery House Café and Grille in Old Mill Square. Fifty seats are available ($15, tax included). Guests will receive the 2015 Saddle Up commemorative poster and a limited edition Saddle Up coffee mug.

Free programs include a Skip Gorman symposium about old-time cowboy songs on Feb. 18; a western swing fiddle class with Paul Anastasio on Feb. 18; a western dance class featuring a reunion of dancers from cable television’s “Dance Club” on TNN; and “Tales and Tips from a Cowboy Cook” featuring Kent Rollins on Feb. 20.

One of Saddle Up’s major activities is the annual chuck wagon cookoff on Feb. 21 at Clabough’s Campground. Chuck wagon cooks prepare lunch for guests and evaluation by a panel of judges. Tickets for the noon lunch are $12.50. Beginning at 9 a.m., visitors can hear cowboy entertainers and participate in cowboy-themed activities free of charge.

The Saddle Up Cowboy Dance ($5), with music by T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up -N- Playboys, follows the Feb. 21 concert at the LeConte Event Center.

The weekend concludes with a chuck wagon breakfast ($5) Feb. 22 at the LeConte Event Center, followed by Cowboy Church at Stages West. Cowboy Church is free.

A detailed schedule of Saddle Up activities is at MyPigeonForge.com/saddleup. Tickets are available online. Remaining tickets will be sold at the event.

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The Island in Pigeon Forge
While you’re there, check out the new entity, The Island in Pigeon Forge, located just off the Pigeon Forge Parkway. The Island has so much to do and you can’t miss it…just look for The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel (modern day Ferris Wheel of sorts)! The Wheel, standing 200 feet tall, offers an awesome view of the Smokies that you will not want to skip. The Island also has a fabulous fountain that syncs music to a guitar-shaped fountain water show. It is spectacular!

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Top off your visit to The Island with great shopping at specialty stores (Tervis is a favorite for me) and fabulous eateries like Timberwood Grill where the genuine taste of the Smokies captivates your tastebuds. And, The Island has its own 4-star hotel, Margaritaville. For more information, please visit http://islandinpigeonforge.com/.

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