Gatlinburg will kickoff the 27th year of Smoky Mountain Winterfest with the annual Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff and Winter Magic Kickoff on Wednesday, November 9 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. City dignitaries will signify the start of Gatlinburg Winter Magic with a ceremonial lighting of more than 3 million lights throughout the city.
This year's entertainment includes...Country music singer Tara Thompson as this year’s entertainment. Tara is a featured act in many of Nashville’s premier honky-tonks and has recently been the opening act in front of thousands for her cousin, the Queen of Country Music, Loretta Lynn.
Tara Thompson has music in her blood. As kin to the Queen of Country Music, Loretta Lynn, Tara was raised in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains where her passion for Country Music became evident early on.
Influenced by the likes of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and George Jones to name a few, Tara moved to Nashville as a teen and quickly became a featured act in Nashville's premier honky tonks, garnering a name for herself while honing her performance skills. Tara has recently enjoyed opening several shows for Loretta Lynn before thousands of fans.
In addition to Tara's unique and compelling voice, she is a songwriter delivering a quirky tongue-in-cheek spin on her life experiences that fans relate to and love. With Tara Thompson's talent, personality, beauty, and passion for music, she will undoubtedly carry her family's musical legacy on into the next generation.
Smoky Mountain Winterfest has had significant economic impact on holiday tourism in Sevier County. Since its debut in 1989 to 2013, the unemployment rate dropped from 14% to 4.5% for the months during Winterfest. Lodging occupancy increased from 20% to 65% in that same time frame across the county.
“November 9 is going to be a day packed full of both recognition and celebration,” said Vicki Simms, COO, Executive Director of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “First and foremost, we want to honor our Veterans. But also, we will be kicking off Winterfest and highlighting Gatlinburg as a popular winter destination. Winterfest has obviously had an unbelievable economic impact on all of Sevier County.”
Participants in Chili Cookoff will be competing for the coveted People’s Choice Award, Best Booth Presentation and Best Apron. While the street event is free, tickets for chili sampling are $10. There is also a special edition t-shirt available for purchase.
Courtyard by Marriott Gatlinburg
Lil Black Bear Cafe
Crawdaddy's Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina
Delauder's Smoky Mountain BBQ
Margaritaville Island Hotel
Dick's Last Resort
Drafts Sports Bar & Grill
Ole Smoky Moonshine
Gatlinburg Fire Department
Paula Deen's Store
Gatlinburg Police Department
Puckers Sports Grill
Great Smoky Mountain Catering Co
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
Hilton Garden Inn
Sugarlands Distilling Co.
Inn at Christmas Place
The Melting Pot
IX Nubes Vape Lounge
The Popcorn Emporium