There is just something about the times of the Wild West that make us long for the “good ole days” when covered wagons and horses were the preferred form of transportation, cowboy hats were abundant, and sleeping under the glimmering stars around a glowing campfire was an everyday occurrence. If you have a fondness for anything western themed, you will fall in love with the Annual Saddle Up Festival in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!
The Annual Saddle Up Festival is a part of Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest events. This celebration kicks off the start of the winter season with the Salute to Veterans Parade in November and wraps up with the Saddle Up Festival in February. The Pigeon Forge Wintefest events also include the famous Trolley Ride of Lights, a chili cook off, Wilderness Wildlife Week, and much, much more!
Though the event dates vary from year to year, the Saddle Up Festival is typically hosted the third weekend in February. During this time, the weather is perfect for donning your favorite Western attire, from cowboy boots to Western shirts! Low temperatures generally dip into the low 30s while highs climb into the mid 50s. Attendees can prepare for crisp weather, perfect for chowing down on the hearty Western food the festival has to offer!
Oh yes, the food that the festival boasts will satisfy the craving you have for a delicious, stick to your ribs meal. The Saddle Up Festival generally kicks off with a cornbread sampling, an event that is free and fun for all! Stop by and try some of the best cornbread in Tennessee provided by one of the chuck wagon chefs drawn in by the event. Speaking of chuck wagon chefs, you should know that the tasty food doesn’t stop with cornbread!
You’re probably familiar with food truck festivals and cooks offs and have likely eaten a meal to go from a local food truck vendor. When you attend the Saddle Up Festival in Pigeon Forge you can enjoy a similar experience…only Western themed! The event hosts an annual chuck wagon cook off, bringing authentic Western cooking techniques, recipes, and products straight to the doorstep of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. These chuck wagon chefs have some of the best savory dishes around, complete with meat, beans, bread, potatoes, and even dessert! Enjoy a meal hot off the wagon and even cooking demonstrations by these renowned chefs.
Just like most other festivals and events in Pigeon Forge, Saddle Up offers many kid-friendly events and activities. The Buckaroo Roundup is a staple of the Saddle Up Festival, including many fun games that the little ones will enjoy. There’s something here for adults also – in the past, the Buckaroo Roundup has included a bucking and spinning mechanical bull, lasso lessons by some of the best in the area, and branding demonstrations.
You can’t have a Western-themed event without some old-fashioned dancing! The Saddle Up Festival in Pigeon Forge offers Western dance lessons where you and a partner (or just yourself) can learn how to kick up your heels. Attendees generally dress in full cowboy or cowgirl attire, so don’t be bashful – break out your Stetson hats and Wrangler jeans for a rockin’ good time.
The people of the Old West were famous for their storytelling and songs, and the Saddle Up Festival does a great job of preserving their traditions. The festival hosts songwriter workshops, evenings of storytelling and guitar picking, and concerts throughout the weekend. Some of these events are free while others require tickets – some of the best names in western and country music are brought in by Saddle Up to make this experience truly memorable.
No cowboy is complete without a trip to church, so the Saddle Up Festival hosts a free cowboy church service on every Sunday morning of the celebration. This non-denominational service invites all to this free event, celebrating the spirit with music, songs, and sermons. Prior to church is a chuck wagon breakfast where you can try some western breakfast staples such as hash browns, biscuits, eggs, and beans.
Saddle Up does a great job of catering to every style of visitor in the town of Pigeon Forge. Some of the events are free and invite everyone for large gatherings and presentations while others are intimate, requiring ticket purchases in advance; events are held at various locations throughout Pigeon Forge. The larger activities and showcases usually take place at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge while smaller and ticketed events are hosted at places such as the Old Mill Square, Stages West, and Smoky Mountain Guitars.
If you are interested in attending the Annual Saddle Up Festival in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, you can find all current information on the Pigeon Forge Winterfest website at www.pigeonforgewinterfest.com. This event is fun for everyone and offers something for every person in your family or vacation group, so don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Wild West on your next winter vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains!
If you need a cozy place to stay after the festival, check out our many Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cabins. For more information, call 1.800.684.7865!