Gatlinburg Winterfest Kickoff Chili Cookoff and Veterans Day - Recognizing Veterans and Celebrating 26th Winterfest
Online ticket sales have ended. You can buy tickets for $10 starting at 1:00 pm at the Mountain Mall ticket booth.
Gatlinburg will kickoff the 26th year of Smoky Mountain Winterfest with the annual Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff and Winter Magic Kickoff on Wednesday, November 11 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, Chili Cookoff and Winter Magic Kickoff fall on Veterans Day and in tribute, Gatlinburg will honor all service men and women with the annual Veterans Day Celebration on Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza at 11 a.m. Gatlinburg’s Veterans Day Celebration is recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as an official site for the observance of Veterans Day. In accordance with honoring our military, The Ladies for Liberty will provide entertainment for Chili Cookoff and Winter Magic Kickoff. The Ladies for Liberty perform in WWII Andrews Sisters style with their own rendition of vocals, costumes and the spirit of patriotism reminiscent of the 1940s. The Ladies have performed at patriotic ceremonies around the U.S. and their act is done in order “to honor America – the Greatest Nation on Earth!”
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 11 is going to be a day packed full of both recognition and celebration,” said Vicki Simms, 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.