Flower & Food opens at Dollywood | News

Even though the event took place for the first time during last year’s summer months, this is the first year for Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival to open during its intended spring season.

The Flower & Food Festival began Friday and runs through June 7.

“Last year we did the festival in the summer, because of the pandemic we had to push it to the summer, so I think a lot of folks are ready to see it during the time of year when it was intended to be, and that’s the spring,” said Wes Ramey, Dollywood public relations director.

“I think they’ve done a great job with bringing the Smokies into the park with all this floral, there’s about half-a-million flowers they’ve brought in to really bring out spring in the park, and I think that a lot of people after being cooped up for the last few months, they’re ready to get out and see that.”

Even those who were able to make it to Dollywood during the festival last year will see changes to the event for 2021. One difference is the addition of a dining pass which gives purchasers the option to sample five meals at any of the festivals dining locations.

“The culinary team added some new menu items to support that,” Ramey said.

Some of those items include summer succotash featuring pan-seared chicken, a lobster roll and a fresh berry and lavender funnel cake. The dining pass is $27.99 for season pass holders ($29.99 regularly).

There is also an increased number of entertainment options for this year’s festival.

“We added a number of inspirational-based groups. They are playing throughout the festival, but the headliners will be in Celebrity Theater on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the festival,” Ramey said.

The acts will include faith-based groups and Americana, all inspirational. Some of the more popular artists include Rebecca St. James, Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets and Big Daddy Weave.

Many of the displays and sights from last year have returned for Flower & Food, including the colorful umbrella canopy over Showstreet, and the Mosaicultures, large plant sculptures of Smoky Mountain scenes. The centerpiece for the exhibit is a display of Dolly Parton’s mother, Avie Lee Parton, sewing the iconic “coat of many colors” Dolly Parton wore as a child.

“When I was a little girl, I loved springtime because everything seemed so bright with color,” Dolly Parton said in a media release. “It started to get warm outside and you just felt like you could finally get out of the house after being cooped up in there for so long, which is something I know we’re all feeling right now. But the thing I remember most about those spring days were the flowers that would start blooming all over the hills. So, the Smokies really were the inspiration for this festival.

“And I just love we made that big, beautiful display of my mama with all those wonderful flowers. It’s special to me, and I know she would have been so proud of it. But something else I’m happy about this year is that not only do we have all the flowers, we’re also bringing in a lot of great music to the festival. I just know it is really going to make the whole park feel so joyful. It’s a special time of year, and I really think Dollywood is a great place to get outdoors and enjoy it all.”

Sevier County is no longer under a mask mandate, but many private businesses and government offices still require their use in certain situations. At Dollywood, when social distancing is possible in outdoor areas, masks are not required.

“We know there were a lot of people last year who didn’t get to come because of the pandemic and we had the capacity limitation in place and people just weren’t ready to get out and travel yet, so i think we’ll definitely see an increase in visitation during the festival this year,” Ramey said.

“We’ll continue to monitor the recommendations that are coming forth by the CDC, but right now if you are in the park in an open area outdoors where you can social distance, you don’t have to wear the mask, but we do ask if you’re in any of the areas where you can’t maintain social distance indoors, any of those things, to put your mask on.”

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