This past Saturday afternoon, as I stood in the sunlight soaking wet from a flume ride and nibbling on a pickle on a stick, a bearded man asked me in all earnestness if I wanted to learn about lye soap. Bluegrass music emanated from a nearby rock. To my right, bald eagles rested on a branch. To my left, a woman in period dress stood in line to buy a pork rind while the man paying in front of her was holding onto a kid on a leash and wearing a t-shirt that read “get high on Jesus.”
This was my first visit to Dollywood, which is part amusement park, part celebration of Smoky Mountain culture, and part rollicking country fair. It was day three of a whirlwind road trip through the region, and my friends and I would be staying that night in the Tennessee town of Pigeon Forge, where it quickly became clear that the backwoods are back in style and it’s hot to be a hillbilly.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Alan63.