Smokies Strong presents check for $128K in Pigeon Forge

David Dotson, Josh Trivett, Phil Campbell, Tracy Counts, Barry Counts,
and Callie Counts with a donation check in Pigeon Forge (4/13/17).

November 2016 brought devastation to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge region of east Tennessee when wildfires came racing across the mountains, destroying homes and businesses in its path. Law enforcement officials had arrested a pair of teen boys from nearby Clinton not long afterward and charged them with setting the fires, but it was little relief to the people who lost property and employment through their carelessness.

But relief did come quickly from a number of sources in the region, with bluegrass folks, as always, being among the first to respond. Josh Trivett, who runs Moonstruck Management, a bluegrass agency which promotes the careers of top acts like IIIrd Tyme Out, Lonesome River Band, Volume Five, NewTown, and several others, was quick to look for a way to help out. A native of the region, Trivett understood that many of those affected in east Tennessee were bluegrass performers themselves, and that they would all be first out of the gate in any effort to raise money for the victims.

He organized a benefit show for February called Smokies Strong—A Bluegrass Celebration, featuring many of his bands, and a number of others with ties to the area, which was held in Pigeon Forge at the LeConte Center. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Grascals, Flatt Lonesome, Volume Five, Lonesome River Band, Barry Bales & Friends, NewTown, Dave Adkins Band, and Jimbo Whaley & Greenbriar all donated their time to perform at this fundraiser. “The idea came to me while watching news coverage on the fires,” Trivett said, and he soon arranged for the proceeds to be donated to Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation, who were making quick cash awards to families affected by the fires.

Soon other regional businesses, clubs, and charitable organization leapt into the fray, and their combined efforts lead to today’s presentation of a check for more than $128,000 to the Dollywood Foundation Wildfire Scholarship Fund. Trivett was on hand for today’s ceremony, along with representatives from Dollywood, Sevier County, and other local organizations.

In addition to the funds raised at Smokies Strongs, monies came from:

  • Sevier County Baptist Association – $10,000
  • Make it Count Gymnastics Classic – $1,000
  • American Contract Bridge League – $35,000
  • an anonymous gift of $25,000
  • Vulcan Materials – $10,000
  • Kingsport Seventh Day Adventist Church – $4,800
  • Digital Marking – $3,000;
  • Holloways Country Home – $17,000 (silent auction of donated quilts at A Mountain Quiltfest)

The Dollywood Foundation will attend to the distribution of these funds, much of it in scholarship awards for families who lost everything back in November.

Well done all!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.