The first ever Foothills Fall Festival, named by USA Today as one of the top ten fall festivals to attend in the United States, took place in the city of Maryville, Tennessee in 2000. Now in its twelfth year, the celebration has become an entrenched tradition in the region, with more than 70,000 people traveling from around the state and beyond for the A-list entertainment lineup, local craft fair, children's themed area and to witness a smaller local celebrity in action, Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel. The Great Smoky Mountains serve as the backdrop during one of the most pleasant and visually stunning times of year in Maryville, when the leaves are turning and the weather has cooled.
Foothills Fall Festival grounds — Photo courtesy of Foothills Fall Festival
What really sets the Foothills Fall Festival apart from many similar events across the country is the small town, community-centered feel of the event complemented by a world class lineup of internationally renowned entertainers. The lineup for 2012 includes Gary Allen, former Hootie and the Blowfish front man Darius Rucker, American Idol runner up Lauren Alaina and Grammy award-winning band Train.
Chicago performs at the 2011 festival — Photo courtesy of Foothills Fall Festival
During the three-day festival, taking place on October 12, 13 and 14, craftsman from around the country will take over Broadway in downtown Maryville to display and sell their work in ArtWay, a juried craft show with 85 artists, live music and demonstrations. Besides getting some early holiday shopping done, you can learn about basket weaving, corn husk doll making, quilting and corn shelling using vintage tools. The Foothills Antique Tractor & Engine Club will host a Parade of Steel, and local food vendors will be on site to keep you from getting hungry.
Jewelry artist at the Festival's ArtWay — Photo courtesy of Foothills Fall Festival
The festival offers plenty to do for adults, but what about kids? No fall festival would be complete without some entertainment for the little ones, and during the Foothills Fall Festival, the 16-acre Greenbelt Park adjacent to ArtWay transforms into Adventure Land, a paradise of inflatables, games and live entertainment designed especially for kids. Outdoor laser tag and a climbing wall are favorites with older children, but toddlers have an area all their own complete with a sandbox, baby bumper cars and a carousel.
Kids entertainment in Adventure Land — Photo courtesy of Foothills Fall Festival
If you come only for the ArtWay and Adventure Land, admission is free, but $60 buys you a three-day pass so you can watch all 15 concerts at the outdoor amphitheater over the weekend.