Upcoming convention is huge for Pigeon Forge

Aug. 24, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

Next month’s National Quartet Convention, slated for Sept. 21-27 in Pigeon Forge, may not sound like much to the average citizen, but it’s the crown jewel of the city’s LeConte Center so far.

It was a boon two years ago, when Pigeon Forge lured the convention away from Louisville, Ky.

The convention — hailed by some as the largest annual gospel music festival in America — has the potential to draw around 40,000 visitors to Sevier County.

Its schedule is a veritable who’s who in southern Gospel music — recent Dove Award winners Canton Junction and Karen Peck and New River will share the stage with perennial favorites like the Kingdom Heirs, the Kingsmen and the Isaacs. There are literally too many well-known acts to name.

The convention, if deemed a success, could work wonders for the recruitment of more large-scale events in the future. It could serve to showcase exactly what’s available in Pigeon Forge and Sevier County, and inspire others to look at this area for more than just family vacations and small gatherings.

While it’s an extremely exciting time for all involved — especially for local businesses that are in the midst of a typically-slow time by late September — it will also a nerve-wracking final month for organizers in the lead-up to the event.

The LeConte Center has never hosted anything of this magnitude, and even parking for the event could present serious challenges (see story on page A1).

While some lamented the perceived impracticality of the giant parking lot that sat empty for years between the LeConte Center and The Island, that lot will never hold all of the folks coming for the quartet convention. So other alternatives must be planned, including parking and shuttle programs from other areas.

City officials are trying to iron out all the final details and arrangements to make sure things run as smoothly as possible at the big event, and hopefully they will succeed in those efforts.

“If you build it, they will come,” has become a part of the American lexicon over the decades since the 1989 film “Field of Dreams” featured a similar phrase.

Now, in Pigeon Forge, it’s built, and they’re coming.

When they get here, we must be prepared.