Rain holds off for beginning of Patriot Festival

Jul. 05, 2013 @ 07:39 AM

The rain that had been forecast was holding off Thursday afternoon, leaving Patriot Festival attendees and organizers optimistic they would get to enjoy a full day’s activities.

The event at Patriot Park lasted throughout the afternoon, but the headliners weren’t scheduled to start playing until later in the evening. Still, by bout 4 p.m. there were hundreds of people enjoying the earlier acts as well as food vendors and a kids’ area, and lots of empty chairs wrapped in plastic left by people who had gone out to enjoy other attractions but wanted to reserve a spot for later.

Joel and Janice Alexander were up from Louisiana with their grandchildren for a seven-day vacation. It was their first time at the festival, but they’d planned to come for the day once they read about it online.

“I like music,” Joel said. “It doesn’t really matter to me who’s playing. I enjoy it.”

Jimmy Long, who lives in Pigeon Forge, said he tries to come every year. “If I’m not scheduled to work at Dollywood, I’m usually here.”

Like the Alexanders, he’d come early and hoped to be there for the day.

“I’m sure the (Pigeon Forge Community) Chorus will be good, and I know the Gatlins will be good,” he said, referring to headline performers Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers.

The headline acts were set to take the stage after an early holiday deadline for The Mountain Press. But as of press time, Special Events Manager Butch Helton said he was hopeful that the showers moving through the area would miss them.

He was happy with the turnout they’d already gotten.

“We were very concerned because of the forecast,” he said “So far, we’re very pleased.”

n jfarrell@themountainpress.com