For a few years in the 1980s, the Smokies tourism corridor towns of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge seemed to be cloning Branson, Missouri, with theaters featuring somewhat big name country performers such as Lee Greenwood, Anita Bryant, Reba McIntire, T. G. Sheppard, and Louise Mandrell.
Those folks have gone with the wind, and the thousand-capacity theaters have had to scramble to fill the seats. The places that have survived are the ones with good music but no headliners. First on this list is Pigeon Forge’s Smoky Mountain Jubilee. Established in Branson in 1977 by Elmer and Faunda Dreyer, pictured below, the show moved to the Smokies about six years later.
The Jubilee show delivers a frenetic array of clogging, country music, bluegrass, gospel, and cornball comedy by a character known as “Highpockets.” Definitely aimed at an audience that fears double entendres or any form of racy humor, the one-paragraph description of the show features the phrases “good clean family entertainment,” “clean comedy,” and “clean family entertainment.”
The next longest tenure show is the Dixie Stampede, which combines a dinner with no silverware with a show featuring a wild west/ music theme. All manner of animals take part, from teams pulling chuck wagons, beautiful women on horses, people in Civil War uniforms riding ostriches, racing pigs, and thundering bison.
Dixie Stampede has four locations: Pigeon Forge, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, and Branson, Missouri. The one at Pigeon Forge is 20 years old this year. Tickets cost $42.99 per person, and those who enter are asked if they want to sit on the North or the South side.