Sevier County July 4 festivities will go on despite rain

Jul. 03, 2013 @ 11:07 PM

A rainy forecast has prompted some East Tennessee towns to reschedule their Fourth of July festivities, but the Patriot Festival in Pigeon Forge and the Riverboat Regatta in Gatlinburg are still set to proceed.

A boat parade planned for Dandridge was canceled, but so far it’s the only casualty to the forecast.

The National Weather Service’s office in Morristown is calling for heavy rain and possible thunderstorms throughout the day. The region is under a flash flood watch until 8 p.m. Friday.

In Pigeon Forge, the Patriot Festival will start at 1:30 p.m. at Patriot Park and run throughout the day. “It will go on rain or shine,” Special Events Coordinator Butch Helton said. “It is not being canceled. The only way we would cancel or delay it would be in the event of severe weather - lightning, severe winds, something like that.’

The event will feature live music on the stage from groups including the Pigeon Forge Community Chorus and an Eagles tribute band before headliners the Gatlin Brothers take the stage. The festival concludes with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.

Admission is free, and food vendors will be present at the park.

Gatlinburg hosted its annual July 4 Midnight Parade to kick off the day, and as of Wednesday was planning to hold its River Raft Regatta today.

The free event gives people the chance to put their miniature watercraft in the Little Pigeon River and see whose can complete a course the fastest. The journey goes from the bridge in front of Christ in the Smokies on River Road and to the finish line at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

The race starts at noon. Admission is free, and people can start checking in at 10 a.m.

Contestants can win trophies for the fastest “Junk” (toy boats, bottles and other purchased items) or “Treasure” (handmade rafts) as well as a judge’s choice for the best handcrafted raft.