Featuring more than 200 free sessions and activities spanning five days, Pigeon Forge’s award-winning Wilderness Wildlife Week is set for May 7-11. The event is headquartered at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge.
In its 29th year, Wilderness Wildlife Week offers a variety of workshops, lectures, seminars, concerts, hikes and other activities designed to introduce or reacquaint participants of all ages with the great outdoors.
The event’s headline session features Jeff Rennicke in a program entitled Hiking Towards Hope: Empowering the New Greatest Generation in the Great Outdoors (May 7 at 7 p.m.). Forensics expert Dr. Bill Bass (May 8 at 7:45 p.m.) returns with special guest emcee Frank Murphy to discuss forensic cases throughout the Smoky Mountains region. Ken Jenkins, Judy Felts and friends host the moving program Heaven & Nature Sing (May 9 at 7:30 p.m.) with Ken providing a second evening session entitled Inside Adventure: My Unplanned and Exciting Happenings in the Smokies (May 11 at 5:30 p.m.). Additionally, Pulitzer prize finalist Ben Montgomery shares the story of his grandmother and her experience on the Appalachian Trail during The Fascinating Story of Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring True Story of the Woman
Who Saved the Appalachian Trail (May 10 at 7:45 p.m.).
Outdoors enthusiasts, nature lovers or those who simply want to learn more about Great Smoky Mountains National Park can choose from lecture topics ranging from the area’s rich heritage to conservation. Workshops focus on photography, fishing, wildflowers and more.
Among the new sessions this year are Love, Trails and Dinosaurs: The Inspirational Story of the First Person With Autism to Complete All Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trails with Theresa Moore, Cherokee Myths and Truths with Jon Elder, I Found It in the Archives: Researching History and Family at Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Michael Aday, Neatless, Wheatless and Sleepless: East Tennessee’s Contributions to World War II with Kathy Gwinn, and Ephemeral by Nature with Stephen Lyn Bales where he looks into some of the unusual animals in the Smokies including Appalachian pandas.
Outdoor excursions of all levels are available throughout the week. Highlights include an 11-plus-mile hike to the Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower located less than a mile off the Appalachian Trail (May 10 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), a six-hour hike highlighting the People and Places of Cades Cove (May 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and a nearly five-mile Hen Wallow Falls trek that takes hikers through a hemlock and
rhododendron forest (May 10 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).
A special kids’ fishing tournament kicks off on Saturday, May 11 with registration at LeConte Center Circle Drive covered pavilion. The Wilderness Wildlife Week Youth Trout Tournament will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for children ages seven to 12. There is no fee to participate in this tournament. Fishing supplies are not provided to participants.
Throughout the concourse more than 40 exhibits and vendors, including the not-for-profit Cades Cove Preservation Association, East Tennessee Historical Society, and Keep Sevier Beautiful, are open daily during the event beginning at 10 a.m.
This spring celebration of the great outdoors is free and open to the public. For more information, a complete schedule and registration details, visit MyPigeonForge.com.
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