Know what follows the joy of Christmas and the excitement of New Year’s Eve? It’s the wintertime blahs.
Two cures are available in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in January and February at Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
January’s get-up-and-go antidote is Wilderness Wildlife Week. Spread through eight days are 288 photography workshops, nature lectures, musical programs, hikes, owl prowls and animal encounters (pet a possum, meet an eagle, touch a snake).
Dates are Jan. 7-14, and everything is free. It’s a gift from the City of Pigeon Forge to celebrate the grandness of the city’s next-door neighbor, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
February provides the opportunity to celebrate your inner cowboy. The event is Saddle Up!, a festival of cowboy poetry, western music and chuckwagon cooking.
It’s one of the biggest western events east of the Mississippi, and dates are Feb. 23-26.
Activities include multi-artist concerts (R.W. Hampton, Stephanie Davis, Ray Doyle and Andy Nelson among them for 2012), “intimate evening” concerts featuring one artist and a small audience, a western dance, a chuckwagon lunch and Cowboy Church on Sunday morning.
Pigeon Forge is about 40 miles southeast of Knoxville and is quite accustomed to having guests – about 10 million a year. However, winter is a quiet time, with easy access and attractive lodging rates (hotels, condos and cabins).