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Celebrate Scottish Culture & History at Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games

December 5, 2017   -   0 comments

Can you hear the bagpipes wailing in the distance? Smell the bonfires? Hear the grunts of the clansmen as they toss the caber? Aye then ye ken the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games must be right around the corner. The Games are held at the Maryville College in East Tennessee and are part of one of the oldest Scottish Festivals in the country. Of course, ye don’t have to be a true “Scot” to enjoy the games, anyone can attend and join in the fun.

Relive the History of the Games

The Highland Games have a history that runs as far back as memory and records can go. During the games, kilt-clad athletes competed against each other representing their clans and themselves in unbelievable feats of strength. But, ’twas not only the men who competed, for many a fair lass competed in the dance. Here at the Smoky Mountain Highland Games, ye’ll find not only the Scottish being represented but also the Irish.

The earliest record of the “Games” can be traced back to the year 1057 when King Malcolm Ceanmore introduced the first games to his people in an attempt to bring the clans together and improve their battle skills. By the sixteenth century, the games had become more of a friendly competition with serious rivalry between the clansmen.

Tis the Games

Tis the games that most come to see while they are enjoying the tastes of Scottish, Irish, and Celtic foods and drinks provided by the many vendors. Who can resist the site of huge muscle-bound men in kilts “tossing the caber?” The traditional caber measures 19 feet 6 inches long, weighs 175 pounds and was made from Larch in Scotland. While historically this came from the need to toss logs across chasms to create a bridge, like so many other things, it became a sport.

The caber toss is all about style and distance, even though you might not think style has much to do with it when you see that huge caber wobbling around as the “tosser” lunges forward to make his toss.  But the caber toss is only one of the games. Others include; both open and Braemar stone put, 16 and 22 lb. hammer throw, 28 and 56 lb. weight for distance, the sheaf toss, and 56 lb. weight for height.

Come for the Music

Throughout the entire festival, the sounds of bagpipes, drums, and pipers can be heard floating through the air. There are competitions at all levels, including solo play and full bands. To ensure you can see the performances as well as hear them, the musicians will be playing on the softball field where there is plenty of elevated seating for all.  There is even a Piping Workshop led by James McIntosh MBE where you can learn to play the pipes or new skills to improve your current level of play.

This is only a small part of all the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games has to offer. Come trace your history and find your Clan; there are numerous expert cultural heritage organizations on hand to help. For 2018 the Honored Clan is Clan Ramsay, an ancient Lowlands clan believed to have been formed in the 11th Century.

Come visit the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games in Maryville, TN to be held at Maryville College from May 19 to 20, 2018. Enjoy the games, the many vendors, the entertainment, and so much more to do. Oh, and ‘Dinna forgit ta bring ye kilt”; no man should ever visit the games without being clad in a kilt cut from his clan tartan!  As they say in Scotland “We’ll be seeing ye aire!”

Discover Amazing Outdoor Experiences in Maryville, TN with Mountain Challenge

December 2, 2017   -   0 comments

Ah, the great outdoors! There is nothing quite like spending time breathing in the fresh air while your team is getting it together and taking the lead. If there is one thing any successful team (from the NFL to large corporations) can tell you, it’s that if you want to become a winner, you have to learn to work as a team. But there is so much more to being a team than putting a group of people together and giving them a name.

This Is How They Do It

At Mountain Challenge, their mission is to help turn groups of people into winning teams who have the drive and knowledge it takes to charge forward and into the winner’s circle. They work with many different types of groups ranging from fourth-grade classes all the way up to large corporate companies. Choose from three different courses designed to test your physical stamina, your mental abilities, and your ability to work with your group as a team.

The Low Ropes Course

If you are looking for a challenge specifically designed to bring your group together, the Low Ropes Course might be just what you are looking for. This course is a lot like one huge obstacle course. Each event in the course has been designed to test a different aspect of your team’s abilities. More importantly, Mountain Challenge can custom design each obstacle to help your team meet specific goals while getting down and dirty out in the fresh air.

The Alpine Tower

Their Alpine Tower stands sixty intimidating feet tall. It takes a lot of teamwork and trust for your entire team to reach the top of the tower. Everyone on the team gets their chance to enjoy climbing, rope monitoring, and belaying. While all of this might sound like fun, the most important lesson to be learned here is that the whole group has to be willing to work together to get everyone to the top. Anything less will only lead to failure.

The Adventure Race

Now that everyone has had a chance to learn to work together and get used to being in the great outdoors, it’s time to put them all to the test. Split the group into teams and put them to the ultimate test by taking on Mountain Challenge’s Adventure Race. This race is a combination of the Low Rope Course, climbing the Alpine Tower, and several raw fitness exercises. As if this isn’t enough, the rivalry and tight completion times will soon let everyone see who truly has what it takes.

Back to Basics

At Mountain Challenge, your group, team, club, or employees will learn more about working together in one day than they could in years of classroom training. They will learn discipline, group dynamics, strategies for success and so much more while spending time in the Maryville College Stewardship Forest clambering over logs, balancing on beams, running, climbing, and generally having a great time in the fresh air. This is what it takes to create the kind of teamwork you need for your group to truly learn to work together.

Blount County Adventures: Camp Wesley Woods Outdoor Education Programs

November 30, 2017   -   0 comments

Have you been looking for the perfect outdoor education program for your class? Somewhere that does more than act as a glorified daycare center for older children? If so, the Camp Wesley Woods in Townsend, TN and their outdoor education program might be just what you and your kids need. One of the hardest parts of finding the right program is trying to find one that will fit in with your schedule. But at Camp Wesley Woods, they offer a range of flexible schedules and curriculums that can easily be customized to meet your needs. The instructors work with local schools to ensure their classes offer a perfect blend of “environmental and adventure education components” to support their goals. All of the current curricula have been developed to meet the latest in Tennessee education standards.

More Than Just Knowledge

The goal of everyone at Camp Wesley Woods is to “Inspire the Heart, Nurture the Soul, Educate the Mind and Strengthen the Hands.” The entire program is dedicated to helping students learn more about the natural world and how it works together. As part of the curriculum, students will spend hours in the outdoors experiencing the endless majesty found in nature. They will also be taught how they can make a difference by learning how to create a more sustainable environment, one that they can enjoy passing on to their children when the time comes.

Everyone is Welcome

While Camp Wesley Woods is part of the United Methodist Ministries, everyone is welcome. They work with many of the local public and private schools, both secular and faith-based. While the staff is quite comfortable with their spiritual applications, they are equally adept at providing a fun-filled secular experience for public and non-faith based private schools.

The staff at Camp Wesley Woods realizes that no matter what your faith or spiritual background, we are all responsible for taking care of our planet and should always act as good stewards of our natural resources. They also know that putting our children on the right path starts right here in our local woods that surround us.

What Age Groups Can Attend Camp Wesley Woods Outdoor Education Programs?

The most commonly asked for programs are those designed for kids in grades 4 through 8. However, they also offer programs for both younger and older students. Certain adventure programs do have age limits, but they also offer a number of fun projects and activities for younger students as well. They offer morning classes that give you time to attend the lesson, eat lunch, and then get back in time for afternoon classes. Or you can arrange for full-day classes or evening classes.  

All instructors have college degrees in the field of Outdoor Education, including outdoor recreation and biology. All have been working in the field of outdoor education for a number of years, have survived the Camp’s own rigorous training program, and have passed a complete background check. Be sure to contact Camp Wesley Woods if you are interested in bringing your group to one or more of their outdoor education classes.

Free Beginner Dulcimer Lessons at Wood – n- Strings Dulcimer Shop

November 28, 2017   -   0 comments

The Dulcimer is a member of the string instrument family and is actually a type of zither. It has long been a mainstay in Appalachian music. While its origins are from Europe and in particular, England, various types of this instrument can be found in use around the world. The Wood -n- Strings Dulcimer Shop is the result of owners Mike and Connie Clemmer’s dreams; or more specifically Mike’s life-long love of music; both playing and singing as well as his love for buying, selling, and repairing musical instruments.

How It All Started

The Wood -n- Strings Dulcimer shop started out as a simple question posed by Connie to Mike. The question was, “If you had a blank check, what would you want to do?” After much thought and prayer, Mike decided that what he really wanted was a shop of his own where he could build and sell his own custom handcrafted mountain dulcimers.

Mike learned the fine art of dulcimer repair over thirty years ago when as an experienced bass and guitar repair specialist, he was asked by a friend to help him catch up on his dulcimer orders. Mike was only too happy to oblige and added the fine art of dulcimer building and repair to his repertoire. Today he continues to build mountain dulcimers in his own shop located in Townsend, TN.

You are cordially invited to come watch Mike build dulcimers from walnut, sassafras, butternut, or wormy chestnut. Each dulcimer can also be ordered with a custom hand-built top made from wormy chestnut, ambrosia, lacewood, bird’s eye maple, curly cherry, or curly soft maple. Each dulcimer is completely handcrafted in Mike’s shop to ensure the ultimate in quality and of course perfect sound.

More Than Just a Store

From the moment you open the door, it’s easy to see that Wood -n-Strings is more than just a dulcimer store. On any given day you are just as likely to encounter several musicians who hang around to share their wisdom and music. Inside you will find dulcimers, banjos, guitars, basses, and more for sale. But this is only the beginning. Why not take a little extra time to watch Mike at his craft and see the love that goes into the construction of every dulcimer he creates?

For those of you who have always wanted to learn how to play the dulcimer, why not visit the store at 4 p.m. on Fridays for free lessons. You can buy your dulcimer from the shop or bring your own, it doesn’t matter as Mike and his friends are always happy to share their knowledge and skill by teaching others to play this amazing instrument.

Mike’s dulcimers are shipped around the world bringing with them some of the finest sounds of Appalachia. He is typically available on the weekends to answer your questions and demonstrate his amazing skills. If you have a dulcimer in need of repair, there is no one better to bring it to. Even if you have no interest in owning or learning to play one of these incredible instruments, Wood -n- Strings Dulcimer Shop is still a great place to stop with your family when you’re in town.

Resisting Temptation is Useless! Discover Sullivan’s Fine Food

November 24, 2017   -   0 comments

Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to find a good restaurant these days? That’s not to say there aren’t some fine restaurants in the Rocky Hill and Maryville, TN area, to be sure there are several. But if you are looking for a locally owned restaurant with an outstanding menu, including gluten-free dishes, it’s time you discover Sullivan’s Fine Foods.

What Makes Sullivan’s Fine Food Special?

A restaurant is a restaurant, or is it? With so many restaurants to choose from, what is it that makes Sullivan’s so special and brings in the locals? Could it be that their cooks use nothing but the freshest ingredients and produce available for every dish they make? Or could it be that they have fresh seafood delivered daily? Well, that’s a good start, but wait, there’s more!

Maybe it’s that every USDA Choice steak is hand cut by Sullivan’s select butcher or that the food here is all made from scratch. The simple truth is, that it is all of the above and more. Sullivan’s offers an incredible array of dishes for both lunch and dinner. With several steak and seafood dishes to choose from, there is something for everyone, including the younger members of your family.

Banquets and Catering

Both locations offer banquet services, the Rocky Hill location offers space for up to 35 guests, the Maryville location offers seating for up to 100 guests.  Meals are offered buffet style with both lunch and dinner menus available. If you don’t see what you want on the menus, be sure to contact the amazing team at either location as they always do their best to accommodate your needs. There is also a limited plated dinner menu.

When it comes to catering, Sullivan’s offers both fully catered and drop-off/pick-up catering. For those who prefer drop-off/pick-up catering, all foods are packed in disposable containers and come with wet/dry plates, plastic silverware, serving chafers with Sternos, serving utensils, and napkins. You can either go by one of their two locations or they will deliver your order to you and help set it up.

Fully catered events can be held at your location where their catering director will work with you to develop a great menu that is perfect for your event. They offer both buffet style meals and fully plated dinners for you to choose from. Your entire event will be fully serviced and they supply everything you need for your event no matter how small or large it happens to be.

Incredible Food – Stop at Sullivan’s in Rocky Hill & Maryville

Whether you are looking for a good old-fashioned home-cooked meal, a tender juicy steak, or the freshest seafood in town, there are only two places you should try: Sullivan’s Fine Food at 7545 Northshore Drive in Rocky Hill or Sullivan’s Fine Food at 121 W. Broadway in Maryville. Be sure to check out their daily dinner specials along with their amazing selection of wines, beer, and cocktails. Come for the food and stay for a nightcap or bring the entire family in for a great meal. They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week for your dining pleasure.

Stretching & Massage for Better Health: Massage Envy

November 21, 2017   -   0 comments

When was the last time you could honestly say you felt really good physically or even mentally? Can you remember the last time your back wasn’t on fire? Rather than going to see your doctor for yet another round of tests and medicines, maybe there is another way to relieve the pain and ensure you get up in the morning feeling well-rested and ready to take on the day.  Massage Envy in Alcoa, TN offers a wide range of stretching and massage therapy services designed to make you feel like a “new you.”

There Are Many Benefits to Massage Therapy

Most of us live a very busy and stressful life between family, work, and trying to maintain our sanity. This type of stress may be responsible for issues such as back, shoulder, or neck pain that you just can’t quite seem to get rid of. It can also lead to major headaches, heart problems, and hypertension.  Massage therapy is perfect for working out those knotted muscles and kinked nerves.  Regular massage therapy by one of the talented massage therapists at Massage Envy is a great way to let go of your cares.

Massage therapy can help ease chronic pain and make it much easier for you to get rid of short-term or acute stress. Did you know that poor posture can easily become a bad habit that is very hard to break? Massage on a regular basis helps to keep your muscles and joints nice and loose, helping your body to maintain proper alignment more easily.

You Need to Learn How to Relax

When was the last time you managed to completely disconnect from your life and totally relax? Can’t remember? That’s okay, most people can’t, life has just become that stressful. Massage therapy is a great way to completely relax your body so that you can finally go home, relax, and get the rest you need and deserve.

Massage therapy is only one part of the picture. Your muscles need more than a massage to help them completely relax. They need to be stretched out just as much in order for them to get the oxygen needed so they can relax and stop hurting. Massage Envy includes the Streto method of stretching that is designed to relax your mind as your body is stretched and massaged.

The Streto Method is a combination of modern stretch research and techniques with relaxation techniques inspired by meditation and yoga. A single 30 to 60-minute Streto session will leave you feeling more relaxed and at the same time energetic the minute your session is complete. More importantly, these effects will last long past your session.

If you are ready to shed the pain and drop the stress, the many services offered by Massage Envy are a great way to begin improving your mobility, flexibility, and overall performance starting today! Contact the Alcoa, TN Massage Envy, open seven days a week, to ensure you can get the help you need when you need it. Why not book your first appointment today and get started on the road to recovery as soon as tomorrow!

Family Fun at Louisville Landing Marina

November 17, 2017   -   0 comments

If you are looking for somewhere on the water to have a little family fun on the weekends, or for that matter any time you have a few hours to spare, Louisville Landing Marina of Fort Loudon Lake may be just the place!  Louisville Landing is one of the oldest marinas in the TVA Fort Loudon system and has once again been awarded a “TVA Clean Marina” designation. This designation is very important as it is only awarded to those marinas that meet the program’s strict pollution control standards.

A Full-Service Marina

There is nothing quite like being able to spend the day out on the lake with your family. But, if you have to keep hauling your boat to the lake every time you want to use it, the hassle can often prove to be too much. Far too many families in the area have boats that spend the majority of their lives sitting on trailers in the driveway rather than on the water where they belong.

Louisville Landing Marina offers the perfect solution to this situation. Here you will find 100 covered and uncovered wet storage slips and 150 dry storage units for your boat. They also offer personal watercraft storage and plenty of fuel for your boat. Imagine not having to deal with hitching up the boat to your rig just so you can go out on Fort Loudon Lake for a few hours. All you have to do is load up the family, lunch, the fishing gear, and anything else you need and head out to the lake.

Amazing Staff and Restaurant

The Louisville Landing Marina prides itself on having one of the finest teams of staff members on the lake. Each member of the team has been chosen not just for their ability to do their jobs, which is of course very important, but also for their friendly demeanor and ability to provide outstanding customer service.

The Dockside Grill first opened its doors back in 2005. Since then it has become one of the most popular restaurants on Fort Loudon Lake and in the Louisville, TN area. The restaurant has a large patio for everyone to enjoy their meal on and is easily accessible via car or boat. You are invited to come out to the restaurant to see the University of Tennessee Vols take on the rest of the SEC.

On any given night you might find one of many local bands playing live or have the chance to take part in karaoke and be a star for a night. The Dockside offers both lunch and dinner menus filled with an array of amazing, mouth-watering dishes with something for every member of your family.  Lunch special runs an incredibly low $5.99 Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Along with this, the Dockside offers an incredible selection of beer and malt cocktails for your enjoyment.

The Louisville Landing Marina and the restaurant are both open from Tuesday through Sunday; hours vary. Be sure to contact them or visit them online for more information, to rent a slip, or to inquire about rates and availability.

Your Perfect Smokies Destination Wedding Venue: Sampson’s Hollow

November 14, 2017   -   0 comments

Your wedding day is likely to be one of the most important days of your life. Part of making your special day perfect is finding the right location. Living in Tennessee, there are many wonderful places to choose from. But, for anyone who truly wants an amazing Smoky Mountains destination wedding, there is only one place to consider, Sampson’s Hollow in Walland.

Why Choose Sampson’s Hollow?

There are several very important reasons why so many couples choose Sampson’s Hollow for their special day. Perhaps one the most important of these is that while they offer a number of wedding packages, they are always ready to listen to the bride as you describe exactly how you want your wedding to go.

When you contact them regarding your “fairytale” wedding, they always do their best to work your dreams into a complete package. The one thing you can count on here is that the staff knows what they are doing and are great at it. They will work hard to ensure that both you and your guests enjoy an unforgettable and stress-free wedding.

Facilities for Your Outdoor Wedding

Choosing an outdoor location for your wedding brings with it a certain amount of stress. There are things to worry about you won’t find at an indoor wedding facility. This includes worrying about what you might do if it rains or the weather turns bad. Will you need to pay more for a tent to keep everyone dry? Can you even get a tent large enough to accommodate everyone?

By choosing Sampson’s Hollow, you never have to worry about the weather as they offer the Bonny Red Barn as a backup plan, just in case the weather decides to try and ruin your special day. The Barn has recently been renovated and now has room for up to 175 guests thanks to the covered front porch. The Bonny Red Barn is set up in a traditional chapel floorplan.

From the Barn, you have a spectacular view of the Great Smoky Mountains and the green pastures surrounding the area. Once the wedding ceremony is over; the staff will quickly and efficiently convert the Barn from wedding to wedding reception by setting up all the tables and chairs under the careful eye of a skilled coordinator.

A Unique Entry

The hayloft upstairs can be used by the bride to prepare herself for the most important day of her life. Once she is ready, she can make her grand entrance coming down the stairwell and toss her bouquet to the ladies waiting below. The entire barn is filled with tiny white lights that add a magical and romantic setting to ceremony and reception.

And a Place to Get Away from It All

If you are looking for a place to get away from it all once the ceremony is over, there is the Farmhouse Cabin. This one-bedroom cabin is furnished with antiques and offers a wonderful place for you to enjoy your first night as husband and wife.

This is only a small part of all Sampson’s Hollow has to offer and why, if you are looking for the perfect location for your wedding, this should be the only one you consider. If you would like to learn more about all they have to offer, you should visit them online or in person.

Discover Meadhaven on the Lake for Your Next Event!

November 10, 2017   -   0 comments

No matter what big event you have coming up in your life, finding the right place to hold it can always be challenging. But finding the perfect place to hold the most important event in your life, better known as your wedding, can often seem to be impossible. But, if you are planning to hold your wedding in the Blount County area, maybe you should consider holding the entire event at Meadhaven on the Lake! This truly amazing home is one of the most beautiful settings in the county, if not the state, for your special day.

The History Behind Meadhaven

Meadhaven was built as a private residence in 1851 and features incredible pre-civil war Victorian-style architecture. Located on Fort Loudon Lake, this incredible home makes the perfect venue for weddings, especially with one of their amazing East Tennessee sunsets in the background.  Their setting lets you put the lake directly behind you as you exchange vows.

Meadhaven On the Lake Today

Meadhaven can handle any size wedding party; from a small group of 100 guests, to larger wedding parties of as many as 300 guests. To help you create the perfect wedding they offer a wide variety of packages for you to choose from. They also provide a wide range of equipment such as tables, chairs, a basic pole tent, all table linens in either white or ivory, and a dance floor for that all-important first dance as husband and wife.

Your wedding package also includes personnel who will set up and take down everything, ensuring that your day will go smoothly. With your wedding package, you also get:

  •         2 hours use of the outdoor facility for rehearsals
  •         Use of the outdoor facility and bridal rooms for the day of your wedding
  •         Complete setup and teardown provided
  •         The assistance of a professional wedding coordinator for both your rehearsal and wedding day
  •         Seating for your guests

So Much More to Offer

If you’ve been searching for the perfect location for your wedding, no doubt you are looking at this list and saying to yourself, “Everyone offers this.” While this might be true in part, how many of the locations offer such a spectacular view? Meadhaven on the Lake offers an incredible view of Fort Loudoun Lake with many of their couples choosing to have this backdrop for their ceremonies and subsequent reception.

One thing you should know about Meadhaven on the Lake is that they only book two weddings per month and is typically booked months in advance. Be sure to contact them as soon as you are ready to set your date to ensure the facility will be available for your special day. Then all you have to do is concentrate on making sure everything else is ready to create a memory that will last a lifetime. Contact Meadhaven on the Lake with any questions you might have and to schedule your wedding event.

S.T.E.A.M. at Blount County Public Library Offers Kids Grades K-5 Educational Fun

November 7, 2017   -   0 comments

Every Friday night at the Blount County Public Library from 4 to 5 p.m. is S.T.E.A.M. for kids night for those in grades kindergarten through fifth. Each week will bring a different adventure ranging from art projects to science experiments, and everything in between.  Be sure to get there early as both supplies and seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

What is S.T.E.A.M. for Kids?

S.T.E.A.M. is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.  This is an educational movement that has taken root over the last few years and is set to continue growing as a forward-thinking method of helping our children be prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

According to the STEAM Portal website, “STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!” It’s an exciting program that kids love.

It’s Fun with Education Thrown In

Don’t be fooled, while you can easily think of S.T.E.A.M. as nothing more than another form of school, it is far more than this. S.T.E.A.M. is fun and at the same time it takes learning out of the standard classroom setting and turns everything into a learning experience.

Children who are enrolled in S.T.E.A.M. will be exposed to topics similar to those that they are taking in their own schools, but the emphasis is more on combining real-life experiences with education to make learning more fun.  It also encourages children to absorb more of what they are learning. Every week S.T.E.A.M. will feature a different subject from one of the five different aspects of S.T.E.A.M.

Activities Matched to Each Child’s Abilities

One week might have the kids coloring pictures, the next they might be learning about volcanos, or doing math problems at their own levels. No matter what the topic of the week happens to be, all materials are matched to the abilities of the child. While the standards are high and the work rigorous, the wonderful people at the library work to make it as much fun as possible.

The S.T.E.A.M. events have become so popular at the Blount County Public Library that seats are very much in demand. Each time the event comes to town seating is limited to a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure you arrive early to ensure your kids get their chance to enjoy the many great projects they get to work on.

In fact, once your kids have attended one S.T.E.A.M. class, we bet they aren’t going to forget to remind you when it’s time to go on Friday afternoons. Be sure to check in at the Blount County Public Library to find out when the next S.T.E.A.M. classes start or your kids might just miss out on all the fun!

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