United Way Presents Sevierville Progressive Dinner, November 2017

I have always wanted to attend a ‘progressive dinner’ and finally got a chance  last Thursday evening at a event presented by the United Way. The United Way of Sevier County continues to consistently provide innovative and enjoyable events while serving the community. Here is a recap of that enjoyable evening.

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Bruce Street was closed to traffic so we just walked up through the center of town. There, we found several booths set up with items to sample.

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Merchants of Beer in Knoxville had a selection of cigars to peruse. Notice the nice silver plated ash tray on on the right side of the table.

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The Sevierville Casual Pint brought a sample of the New Belgium Accumulation White IPA.

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I like this picture of the Old Forge barrel lid on display with the barbershop in the background. It was the last customer of the day in the barbershop.

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I loved the fire pit in the middle of Bruce Street. Not only was it beautiful, but the warmth was a nice amenity a couple of hours later. Notice the white tent with tables set up for the main course of the progressive dinner to be served later in the evening.

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United Way Board member, Elise Collier-Massey, preparing for the event with her husband Beau Massey.

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Dustin Manning, owner of Bistro 109, chatting with Leesa and Jim McGill.

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Sierra Williams and Elise Collier-Massey ready to greet guests.

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The check in table was located by the gazebo. It was quick and efficient so we breezed right into the starting point for the progressive dinner.

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United Way Board member, Vonda Cash, with Sophia Conerly, a Sevierville Commons board member.

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Cheri and Al Schmutzer ready for the evening. They were also celebrating an anniversary. Congratulations to them!

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This handout explains the procedures for the evening. People just voluntarily divided into two groups and it went quite smoothly.

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Appetizers from Bistro 109 were perfect! These kabobs were healthy and easy to handle during the cocktail hour.

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You become proud when one of your former students goes to the Tennessee House of Representatives. This is Tennessee State Representative Andy Farmer.

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Mike Comer, United Way Vice Chair, thanks attendees and explains the procedures for the evening. Board member, Austin Williams, is pictured behind him.

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Sophia and I made our first stop at the Arts in Common Gallery for a salad by Healthy Balance. The strawberry and spinach salad was so fresh and was a great first course in the progressive dinner. Please notice the beautiful, old brick wall. I love the seasonal decor as well.

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Local artist, Andrea Wilson, (pictured in tan sweater, center) was giving a tour of the Arts in Common Gallery to United Way supporters. The back wall contains the original brick and windows. It will be fun to see how the Sevier Commons Arts Council uses this new creative space in the years to come.

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If I didn’t have a chihuahua then I would definitely have a Pomeranian. There could not be a sweeter little dog than this one. Sweet Annie!

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Next stop was Mom’s Vintage Kitchen down the street. This was the best pumpkin soup that I have ever had in my life. I actually walked into the restaurant today to see if they had more. It had little’ heat’ to it so it was really a foodie delight. As you can see, I was talking a lot and didn’t finish my first course so I just carried it with me to Mom’s. I love this restaurant!

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Emily Whaley also enjoys the soup at our second stop on the progressive dinner.

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We finished the soup course then proceeded outside to the tent. It was an elegant presentation on Bruce Street for the evening.

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With the Sevier County courthouse in the background, Kirk Fleta prepares to perform. Mike Comer makes announcements with Amy Harper, Executive Director of the United Way.

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I have heard of Kirk Fleta and finally to got to hear him in person. Find him on Facebook and Youtube. Here is a link       https://www.facebook.com/kirk.fleta

http://www.KirkFleta.com        www.FletaFest.com

Here is a video clip of Kirk Fleta singing the first song of the evening, by James Taylor.

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Montay Calloway, branch manager at U.S. Bank, chats by the fire pit with a fellow supporter of the United Way of Sevier County.

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Mixologists from Old Forge Distillery are always friendly and ready to serve.

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We were ready for dinner under the big, white tent. Buffet style was quick and efficient. Please notice the pumpernickel bread from Mom’s Vintage Kitchen in the basket in front of Sophia. It is gluten free and the best in the world. I promise!

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Restaurateurs Dustin Manning and Christie Champ standing by with their wonderful creations. Pass me another slice of pumpernickel bread, please!

The meal went too quickly! We could have stayed under the white tent for another hour, but it was time to move on to the dessert course at Courthouse Donuts.

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Sara greeted us with dessert course. Sara was our model last month in the “Most Instagram Worthy Spots in Downtown Sevierville.” Here is a link to that blog story

https://outandaboutinsevierville.com/?s=Most+Instagram+Worthy

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A sweet tooth will love the Cherry Crumble cake from Courthouse Donuts.

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Lauren Chesney from King University and another supporter of the United Way of Sevier County.

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The final course and great conversation in Courthouse Donuts for the final course of the progressive dinner presented by the United Way of Sevier County. Pictured are Joe Cagley, Clancy Optical; Chris Massie, Titanic; Beau Massey, and a supporter of the United Way of Sevier County.

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Also enjoying the United Way Progressive Dinner are Danielle King, Mariah Farmer, and Rachelle Shults.

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I heard several people remark that an additional benefit of the United Way Progressive Dinner was the chance to talk, connect, and network with people that you rarely get a chance to see and spend time with. Conversation and networking is what is happening in this picture during the dessert course at Courthouse Donuts. We enjoyed it so much!

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Alas, all good fun must come to an end for I had an early call at work the next morning.  I slipped out of Courthouse Donuts and took one last look at the United Way Progressive Dinner through the windows. It was one of the most innovative events that I have attended anywhere. Easy, relaxed, and completely enjoyable. Everything was close and convenient. Bruce street and the businesses there lend themselves easily to a variety of events. This one utilized everything beautifully. I wouldn’t change a thing and can’t wait until next year.

The United Way Progressive Dinner is one of my favorite ways to spend time out and about in Sevierville. 

See you at the gazebo!

Farmers Market + Celebrity Canine Visit+ New Art Opening + Visit to United Way Office= A Lively Day Downtown: Friday, June 17, 2017

IMG_3688You may remember my previous story about a visit last Friday from Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund and his brother Oakley. I was just walking to the famers market and there they were! Mayor Waters came out to welcome them to the city. I texted Anita that I would be a few minutes late.

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The dogs and their owners spent the week in Sevier County and then did a book signing in Knoxville on Saturday. Such cute pups and well behaved!

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Next, I met Anita at Courthouse Donuts for coffee, but there was there was not much time to chat. By 11:30, time was passing quickly for the market closes at 1:00. We were off to the market.

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First stop, the ‘make-it-and take-it’ booth, sponsored by the Sevierville Commons Arts Council.

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I tried my hand at screen printing a t-shirt. I chose hot pink animal paws on a white T-shirt. There was also a jewelry making table and more. It was free and very busy. IMG_3753

People created a design on their shirt then let it dry while they shopped. This was the last “make-it-and-take-it” opportunity for the year. Council members obtained grants to provide the sessions this summer. If you are a business and would like to help them provide more sessions this summer, just contact the Sevierville Commons Art Council. Here is a link to their website and contact info: https://www.seviervillecommonsartscouncil.org

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These kids loved the ‘make-it-and-take-it’ booths at the farmers market. Look at the necklaces that they made! I admired them and wished that I had time to make one too. Their mother and I do HIIT classes together at NFC.

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We saw our friend, Gina Davis. She had bought a basil plant because some kind of wildlife has been eating the basil at her home.

IMG_3756My favorite things at the farmers market!

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A downtown worker taking a break and walking through the market.

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I like this vendor from Grainger County. Always friendly.

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Sophia Conerly, member of the Sevierville Commons Association talking with Jim McGill, Membership Co-Ordinator for the Chamber of Commerce.

IMG_3795I saw a lot of Methodists downtown last Friday!

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More shoppers enjoying the market.

No music in the gazebo last week. Only the sound of a chain saw working it’s magic.

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I missed the chain saw artist at work, but hope to catch him again in the future. These bears are adorable!

There is a new creative space on Bruce Street and it is good! Stay tuned to my next blog story for more about Charlotte’s Creative Space, by local artist, Charlotte Wear.

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Jim McGill, Chamber of Commerce Membership Co-Ordinator, is happy to see busy vendors and shoppers downtown.

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The plants downtown have never been more beautiful!

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A new restaurant is going into the Fox Building and it is going to be exciting. There will be a back patio, as seen in the drawing posted in this window. This is one of the best restaurants in Market Square in Knoxville, but there is a usually a long wait for a table. It is coming to our town soon. Stay tuned for more info!

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I noticed a new corporate office downtown.

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On the way to another store, Melinda and I ran into Amy Harper, Executive Director of the United Way of Sevier County. Amy asked if we wanted to come up to see their office. And what a nice space it is!

IMG_3829 I loved her view of the courthouse. She often sees people/tourists/visitors taking pictures at the Dolly Parton statue and has the perfect view from her window. Wonderful natural light coming in through the windows.

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Amy Harper and Emily Whaley in the United Way office. Emily just chaired the Night at the Derby fundraiser last April. Make sure you go next year!

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In the meantime, get ready for Drums on Dam, part 2 !

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I barely had time to do everything on my agenda so next week I will plan on arriving much earlier to the downtown Sevierville farmers market. It was a busy Friday while we were out and about in Sevierville. See you there!

A Grand Event: Night at the Derby 2017

There was a grand fete in town last Friday evening to benefit the United Way of Sevier County.  After attending it last year, this has become one of my favorite events of the year. Come along as I show you why Night At the Derby has become a favorite with my friends and I.


First, the red carpet sets the tone for a special evening.

Upon arrival, you must first find a table on the patio. Then, start making plans for your wagers and races. I was too busy working on this report so I was only able to participate in the last race, putting all my funny money on three horses. I got a third place!


Next, you will see fun Derby hats and ensembles. Jennifer Dyer’s hat was a favorite!


Our first snack was the Tennessee Brown from Courthouse Donuts. So good!


Marcie Schrandt and Mike Comer, a board member of the United Way of Sevier County.


This cheesecake from the Diner is probably worth the ticket price itself!


Alison Ragsdale, a board member, and Amy Harper, Executive Director of the United Way of Sevier County.


Emily Whaley, event Chair; Jaclyn Kile, and Brenda McCroskey enjoying the festivities inDerby finery.

So many good things to eat!


The Shanton’s preparing to take a Derby photo at the photo booth. That was really fun because you could choose the background, preview it, and it was printed on the spot. The photo was included in the ticket price. So much fun!


I was so happy to meet Linda Ogle and her adorable friend! Both support the United Way.


One our favorites was there—-Healthy Balance. Sheeley Rose will be disappointed that she missed that.


The best chocolates that I have ever had in my life. You need to seek these out. However, you probably will not be able to share them at work.


Several Sevier County distilleries were present at the event and adding to the fun.


Jessy Hardy’s  magnolia hat was one of my favorites!


The Wilderness gourmet crew was ready to impress—and they certainly did! Pictured from left to right: Michael Russo- Executive Chef, Ricardo Rojas- Director of Culinary Operations, Lishia Lira- Mountain Market Deli Manager, Penny Dixson- F&B Manager.

Sophia and Keith Connerly with Pinkie Mistry.

Ashley Burnette, Jennifer Dyer, and Angie Taylor wearing beautiful Derby hats while supporting the United Way.


Jane Howes, Senior Center Director, wins for pure creativity!


Cheri and Al Schmutzer enjoying the races while supporting the United Way of Sevier County.


Bryan and Anna McCarter in Derby attire!


Larry Sorrell and Todd Thompson. Thompson was the auctioneer and gave us some tips before the bidding began.


This whole look was just stunning. Jackie Thurman, dressed in Derby best,  while supporting the United Way.


This trip looked amazing!


I have never seen Dale Carr in an auction—and it was fun to watch. I didn’t bid this year, but was tempted by several trips.




I loved my hat from Sassafras at the Old Mill!


The guy on the left is a Distiller at the Old Forge Distillery at the Old Mill. Isaac Lindsey also used to be in my class. I didn’t recognize him at first. You can run into lots of people at this event!


Pinkie Mistry, Sophia Connerly, and Michael Maddron.


My favorite restaurant presentation was this one by Bistro 109. The decorations by DGarden were exquisite. The food was divine! Chicken salad croissants, fruit salad, fruit kabobs, and pecan chicken. It was absolutely incredible! That is what I enjoyed for dinner at the Derby.  Dustin Manning outdid himself for this event. Visit Bistro 109 downtown Sevierville soon.

In summary, it may have been my favorite Night at the Derby yet. There was a generous selection of food, treats, and beverages from which to choose so you may be overwhelmed, but will recover quickly. The races are exciting to watch. The auctions are tempting. Ultimately, ticket prices are affordable and you MORE than get your money’s worth, while helping one of the hardest working charities in town. Plan to attend next year! It is a fabulous way to get out and about in Sevierville.

See you at the races!

Derby Hat Social 2017: Hang onto your hat! It is almost Derby time!

The United Way of Sevier County presented the Derby Ladies Hat Social on Thursday, April 6 at Courthouse Donuts for those who were interested in finding a beautiful ‘chapeau’ to wear at A Night at the Derby on April 28th. A ‘pop up’ hat shop was put into place for the hat social.  Derby finger foods and beverages were ready to serve at the event. My friends and I dropped by last year and ended up having a grand time at the hat social. This is what we experienced this year.

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Beautiful hats from Sassafras were on display ready to be tried on and admired. Sassafras is our favorite store in the Old Mill area in Pigeon Forge. In fact, we always go there after dining at the Old Mill Pottery House. Everyone needs to go there! Here is a link to the store. http://www.old-mill.com/info/sassafras

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Refreshments!

My friends and I knew from last year the best things to do at the hat social. Here is what you need to know if you want the best selection of hats. These are our recommendations!

  1. Arrive as soon as the event begins. Set your purses down on a table and go straight back to the hats. Wear a color that you may be wearing to the Derby event to help select the best hat.
  2. When you find a hat that you fancy, do not put it down! Keep it in hand and use the other hand to try on a few more hats. Try on many hats. Ask Donna Roland which one looks best and you will be sure to look good.

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Witness the ‘hat protection’ technique in this picture.

I didn’t select the hat I am wearing in this picture because it overpowered my features.  I eventually selected the white one in my hand. Donna Roland, pictured left, assured me that it was the one for me. Learn more about Donna Roland from her website. She is an expert in Sevier County on fashion. Her website it beautiful!

Here is a link.  http://www.donnaroland.com/site/

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See, the photo above is blurry due to our speed at grabbing potential Derby hats!

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I loved Joan Saas and her April themed hat. What a festive touch she brought to the event!

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Our friend, Sophia Connerly, found her hat quite quickly. Love it!

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I admired this hat and Pat Willoughby carries it with panache!

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All these ladies looked smashing. Loved the little one so much! She was delightful.

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Karen found the perfect hat for her immediately.  She bought this one.

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Our gracious hostesses, Emily Whaley and Jackie Leatherwood.

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I enjoyed meeting Joan Saas, Jan Lapides, and Pat Willoughby. They are Derby ready!

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These ladies were stunning in their hats and attire. Pictured are Stephanie Postlewaite and Jennifer Duerer. Stephanie’s grandfather started the Mountain Press newspaper in Sevier County decades ago. I’ll bet there are some amazing stories there.

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Ashley Burnette and Janice Bettis enjoying the event and supporting the United Way of Sevier County.

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Marvel Sewell, Laurie Faulkner, and Donna Huffaker manning the Sassafras table and supporting the United Way of Sevier County.

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After shopping, time to chat!

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Members of the United Way of Sevier County getting ready for A Night at the Derby on Friday, April 28th. Pictured left to right are Amy Harper, Executive Director; Emily Whaley, Chair for A Night at the Derby; Kat Ogle, board member; and Jackie Leatherwood, board member.

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Executive Director, Amy Harper addresses attendees and explains how the April 28th event will benefit 15 agencies in Sevier County.

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And finally, the hat for me. My Facebook friends helped me to select from two hats. This one was the winner 2 to 1 on my social media poll.

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You can buy your tickets now for A Night at the Derby, sponsored by Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. Here is a link to the Facebook event page. https://www.facebook.com/NightattheDerby/

Here is a direct link to the webpage where you can buy tickets.

 http://anightatthederby.com

We attended A Night at the Derby last year and were quite impressed. That event, and the Hat Social, were two of my favorite things last year. Check my blog archives here to read  about the event last year. It is well worth the ticket price. In fact, you more than get your money’s worth—but, after all, it is a donation to the United Way of Sevier County. This organization helps over 15 organizations in our county, one of the most important charitable groups here.

See you at the Derby event on Friday, April 28th. It is a truly fun way to get out and about in Sevierville. 

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United Way of Sevier County Presents 2nd Annual First Responders Challenge 2016, (Part 2)

Here is part 2 of  my story on the First Responders Challenge event held yesterday at Sevier County High School. What an exciting event for the whole family! The following pictures and videos will give you a look at one of the best events of the year in Sevierville.

Fun introductions by Bryan McCarter as teams enter the stadium for competition. My favorite intro was for the Sevier County Sherrif’s Department, but I couldn’t catch it in time on my camera. The fighting Hosses’?  Love all the intros.

Here are some pictures that I took quickly before the competitions began. (Message me if you see any errors.)

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Hard charging Pigeon Forge Police Department was the winning team of the day. Gold!

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Knoxville Police Department represented Knoxvegas well, winning a Bronze medal.

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Defending champions from last year, the Alcoa Fire Department.

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Pigeon Forge Fire Department

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Sevierville Police and Fire, nicknamed  “Holsters and Hoses.” (One of my favorite teams to watch.)

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Pittman Center Fire Department

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Tug-of-War is fierce!

Police vs Fire for Pigeon Forge.

More strong competition in Tug-of-War.

The obstacle course covers most of the field and provides a lot of excitement!

Teamwork to get everyone over top. A big drop down to the other side.

Approaching the obstacle course.

The guy in the back crossed that high wall well. I was rooting for him!

Sevierville Police and Fire show how to cross the wall.

A lot of speed in the video below. Did someone run track in high school?

John Hutchens’ former track students?

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Kyle Grainger from WVLT Channel 8

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Michael Maddron, coach, pictured left. Bryan McCarter, announcer, center. SCHS track and event coach,  John Hutchens.

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The maze trail is contained within a large truck. The contestants do not know anything about the inside design and it is completely dark. And small spaces! I could see how they bump their helmets on walls and things. I believe the event is timed. To me, this would be the hardest thing of all the events!

Look at the small opening in the bottom right. Very small. Full gear and oxygen tanks add more weight too.

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Officer Akers works out at my gym. I asked why he wasn’t competing, but he said that he was scheduled to work. If he competes next year then look out because he works out hard at NFC.

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Part of the Shults family outside the Sevier County High School stadium. I think that the sign above applies well to them. My friend Darlene is pictured in the cranberry color. Event Chairman, John Matthews, is pictured to the far right.

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Have you ever seen anyone pulling a fire truck loaded with 1,000 gallons of water?

Timed event. Must pull to cones. Coach Hutchens calling the times!

sam_1005A tough team here too!

I had to leave soon after the fire truck pull due to an appointment, but will make sure that I can stay until the end next year. This looked very interesting. A huge container of water with a ladder across the top.

In conclusion, the theme of the day was ‘overcoming obstacles.‘ Justin Shults wrote about overcoming obstacles in his life as an essay topic when he applied for a scholarship. First responders overcome obstacles every day. The United Way of Sevier County helps to fund over 15 community groups to help others overcome obstacles. It was a common thread throughout the day.

I ended my visit on an uplifting note. It was a good moment to see the Shults family honoring Justin and Stephanie Shults.

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It is obvious that our community loves this family.

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Our community also loves Justin and Stephanie.

In honor of them.

Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge 2016: Champions All. (Part 1)

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I may have found the best event of the year. It is free, family friendly, involves athleticism, bravery, and obstacles. Welcome to the Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge 2016, presented by the United Way of Sevier County.

The morning was fun, inspiring, and motivating to all ages. The Mountain Press covered the event well in today’s Sunday edition so I will it to them to tell the major details. Event pictures and video are abundant on the Facebook page for Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge so make sure you go over there to see the competition. Here, I will act as a digital storyteller and share what I observed in my time at this event. This story is expansive so I must cover it in two parts.  Here is what I saw at the beginning of the day…

First responders on location.

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Helpers for the day.

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Event coaches. Michael Maddron is ready.

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I entered just as the event began. Plenty of parking and seats so bring the whole family next year.

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The Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge 2016 began with a tribute to two young people who were lost in the March 22 bombing in the Brussels airport. As we know, Justin Shults was from Gatlinburg. You can see the picture of Justin and Stephanie Shults in the photo above. Some of the proceeds at this event will fund a scholarship in their names for a student at Gatlinburg -Pittman High School. Applicants must write an essay on the topic of obstacles that they have overcome, like Justin Shults wrote about when he attended high school.

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At the exact moment that the tribute to Justin and Stephanie Shults ended, I noticed two groups of Canadian geese flying overhead in a ‘V’ formation. The geese were loudly making noise,  as if saluting as they flew.  I don’t know if anyone else noticed this moment, but it seemed like a supernatural tribute from the sky, punctuating the one going on below on the football field. Time seemed to stand still for a moment.

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Singing of the National Anthem.

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United Way of Sevier County Executive Director, Amy Harper, pictured on the right. Rhonda Bletner, from the Moutain Press, pictured center. Her article in today’s Sunday edition was very comprehensive. Buy one before they are gone!

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Bryan McCarter was the announcer for the day. I have heard him announce many ballgames at Carson Newman University, but the humor really came out for this event. From the team introductions to the timed events, his comments had us chuckling all day. A really talented sports announcer!

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Coaches for competitions. Michael Maddron, pictured right, is ready for the games to begin.

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Teams lining up and listening to how the day will go. I know that adrenaline was pumping!

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Ready for Tug-o-War.

Obstacle course wall and tunnel. That wall was high!

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Touring the course. Reviewing the rules.

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Michael Maddron coaching teams for the obstacle course. (I wanted to sneak over to the stadium today to try to climb the big wall, but I think that they put it away. Maybe next year…)

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And then the games were ready to begin at the Hardin-Robertson Field at Sevier County High School. A wonderful school and a great place to hold this event. (Go Bears!)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story. I should publish it later this evening. It will contain more pictures, stories, and a few videos of the event. It is just too big to cover in one story.

See more pictures on this blog’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1254469567899261/

The Smoky Mountain First Responders Challenge by the United Way of Sevier County was a super charged way to get out and about in Sevierville. 

Be there next year!

 

 

 

 

A grand event: Night at the Derby

The Night at the Derby benefit for the United Way of Sevier County was quite an event and a grand time for all! What a soiree! Probably the best time that I have had in Sevier County to date.

First, my evening started with a snafu on the drive to pick up Melinda. I heard a ‘bump’ sound from the back seat in my car. To my horror, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that the back seat wasn’t latched and had fallen on my new Derby hat! It was getting smashed flat! The next red light gave me a chance to jump out of the car to rescue it. Yikes! It survived the trip and all was well.

Upon arrival at the event, attendees started the fun with a chance to walk down a red carpet and be photographed. Check-in, then another photo with more a formal background. You received ‘fun money’ and instructions on how it could be used.

The ticket price was a great value, in my opinion. A great value, indeed. It provided admittance, a free photo, play money for games, and all you cared to eat or drink. Honestly, this event could charge DOUBLE the ticket price for what we received at that event. I advise you to go next year in case the price should ever go up in the future. You have to experience it.

 

The building areas were well planned and made good use of space. The outdoor seating area was spacious, with plenty of tables and chairs for everyone. It was such a pleasant evening, talking with friends in the outdoors with the evening  breeze and sunset. The music playing in the background was festive and upbeat.

Food was fabulous! My favorite treat was the sweet corn tamale cake from the Chop House. Also, the salted caramel cheesecake from the Diner was divine. There were many healthy and decadent options.

The organized games were entertaining and quite fun. My friends quickly helped me ‘get up to speed’ on how to play the games. The trip auctions were very exciting! Destinations were popular. Next year, I would really get excited to see another trip auction to California, Chicago, or Las Vegas. It will be fun to see what they offer next year.

I offer congratulations to those who worked on this wonderful event.  The United Way helps so many people in our community. It was gratifying to see that they exceeded their goal this evening. Well done.

In summary, my friends and I had a grand time and will plan on attending the Night at the Derby again. We enjoyed three and a half hours of fun, food, drink, frivolity, and Derby fashion. My assessment is that Night at the Derby is the best event of the year in Sevierville. Don’t miss it next time!

Out and about in Sevierville…