Tennessee Sampler Brings Dolly Parton to Nation's Capital
Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | 06:00am
Event Kicks Off 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NASHVILLE – Entertainment legend Dolly Parton performs at this year’s Tennessee Sampler, an exclusive VIP event hosted by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development on Feb. 10 from 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. at Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, M.D.
The Tennessee Sampler event, including an invitation-only performance by Parton, showcases the yearlong 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park for which East Tennessee native Parton serves as ambassador.
"As an East Tennessee girl, I'm honored to have been chosen as the official ambassador for Great Smoky Mountains National Park's 75th anniversary," Parton said. "I've been the unofficial ambassador for years, singing the praises of God's spectacular beauty all around the world. These mountains inspired my new "Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke" musical and CD, and this is my way of making sure folks everywhere know what a wonderful treasure they are."
An annual tradeshow, the Tennessee Sampler highlights Tennessee tourism assets including major hotels and attractions, CVB’s, and regional tourism associations. This year the Sampler will bring more than 80 industry professionals representing more than 50 tourism entities to the D.C. region. Invited guests include tour operators, group leaders, AAA offices, freelance travel writers, and local, regional and national media outlets.
"Tennessee is known throughout the world for our music and scenic beauty," said Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker. "Having Dolly Parton kick off the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the nation’s capital is a marvelous way to celebrate this important Tennessee tourism story. I like to think of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as ‘the people’s park.’ It is America’s No.1 most visited national park and came into being because people had the vision to preserve and protect this vast and remarkable landscape for all to enjoy."
Tennessee Sampler guests will be the first to hear Parton perform songs from her brand new musical "Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke." The musical, which opens at Pigeon Forge’s Dollywood theme park on May 9, is a celebration of the spirit, heritage and people of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Parton is donating proceeds from first-year sales of her new eight-song commemorative "Sha-Kon-O-Hey!" CD to the non-profit organization Friends of the Smokies.
The day-long activities begin with Parton’s lunchtime appearance at the National Press Club. A special media briefing is scheduled at Gaylord National from 4:30 p.m.– 5:30 p.m., featuring Tourism Commissioner Whitaker, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson and Parton. The press event is followed immediately by the Tennessee Sampler tradeshow from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Parton will then take the 75th anniversary story nationwide with her appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live at 9 p.m.
Other world-class tourism attractions represented at the Tennessee Sampler are Elvis’s Graceland, the Grand Ole Opry, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, The Peabody Memphis and Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
In addition to the special performance by Parton and Dollywood’s "Sha-Kon-O-Hey!" cast members, Sampler guests will have the opportunity to receive Tennessee information distributed from Tennessee partner booths, win door prizes, and enjoy delicious food and beverages.
For more information about the Tennessee Sampler, contact Cindy Dupree at