Just 22 years ago when the first Wilderness Wildlife Week was held in Pigeon Forge, there were 4 events scheduled, on a Saturday. This coming year (Jan. 12-19, 2013), 304 events will make up the 8-day happening. Amazing how things have changed.
Yes, you did read that right, that’s 304 different FREE workshops, lectures, panel discussions, mini-concerts, hikes and excursions. And all in the name of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and highlighting its variety of outdoor life and adventure.
Most programs featured during Wilderness Wildlife Week are indoors at the Music Road Hotel Convention Center. For those looking to experience the outdoors, there are 44 hikes and excursions scheduled during the week. From a photo trek in Cades Cove to a four-mile walk through the Elkmont historic district to a strenuous 11-mile hike to Mt. Cammerer, these excursions run the gamut of outdoor adventure in the Smokies.
This year’s keynote speaker is Sam Venable of the Knoxville News Sentinel. He will be speaking on Jan. 12 about “How To Tawlk and Rite Good: An Introduction to the Native Tongue of Southern Appalachia.”
If you’re planning on being in town for Wilderness Wildlife Week, expect something new each day. In all, there are 142 new programs for 2013. Topics range from the “Wonderful Waterfalls of Tennessee,” “Being Bear Smart,” “Searching for Panthers in the Smokies,” “Wild Hog Management in Great Smoky Mountains National Park” and “Advanced Possomology” (songs and stories about possums presented by folklorist Doug Elliott). Other notable programs include workshops surrounding the heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Children can come and have a great time this year as 19 specific programs are planned to get kids involved in the park. An outdoor photography gets children interested in the animals of the Smokies, a beginner’s hiking tour, the importance of owls and knowing how to act if you encounter a bear are just a few of the fun events for kids during the 23rd annual Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge.
One of the more popular events each year are the nature photography workshops instruction on taking pictures and editing images can be gathered from a handful of the region’s most accomplished photographers. Those aren’t the only experts that will be featured this coming year during Wilderness Wildlife Week. Over 200 leading voices in the fields of nature photography, biology, social history, and music, as well as a number of local who grew up around the park make up an exciting week.
In 2012, 33 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, England and New Zealand were represented during the Pigeon Forge event. It’s been named a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event on 10 separate occasions.
For additional details on Wilderness Wildlife Week, including schedules and hike information, visit mypigeonforge.com/wildlife or call 1-800-251-9100.