Nobody told me there would be horses. When I rave about Dolly Parton’s Stampede and people ask me why I waited so long to go, that’s my answer — nobody told me there would be horses. Of course there are a ton of other reasons you’ll love the Stampede and never miss it again once you’ve been, but here are a few of mine.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede calls it the Horse Walk. I call it pre-ponying. It’s a little like tailgating for football, but in my opinion, it’s better. Take a walk around the Dolly Parton’s Stampede building to the Horse Walk, a row of stalls where you can visit the show’s performers, both horse and human. You’ll see some of the awesome horses that perform in the show and you’ll be able to talk to the riders who make the performances so incredible!
Be sure to ask the riders their histories – most have been around or on horses since they were little kids!
The Boot Stomping
One of the most awesome things about the Stampede is that you get a show before the show. Be sure to arrive at the theater early (around an hour before is great) to catch the entertainers in the Saloon. These are no part-time pickers; these gents are some of America’s most award-winning musicians. Some have even played in Dolly’s band! There’s not much like hearing an entire show crowd sing along to Rocky Top, and these guys do a fantastic version, along with a bunch of other songs.
If all the clapping along makes you hungry, snack bars on both floors of the Saloon serve popcorn, nachos, and other snacks and drinks. The show’s entrance is on the second floor, but there’s no rush to get there and the staff will help you right along.
Once you’re seated in your rows, your server will ask what you’d like to drink and ring off a spiel about all kinds of things from taters to tea. What it all comes down to is that you’re about to eat the best meal in town with your hands. There’s no silverware at the Stampede, but that won’t stop you from digging into creamy veggie soup, warm cheddar biscuits, chicken, pork, corn on the cob, a potato wedge, and a dessert turnover.
Everyone in the audience does get the same awesome meal, but Dolly Parton’s Stampede can rustle up vegetarian and gluten free meals upon request. Be sure to ask when you reserve!
While you’re eating, you’ll be entertained with one of the most original shows in the world. The state-of-the-art arena comes to life during the performance with horses and riders, western wagons, games and horsemanship, a little comedy, and this season you’ll even see the Thundering Longhorns! It all begins with the introductions from your emcee and his beautiful white horse, Athena.
Next, it’s a friendly competition between the two sides of the arena. You’ll get to cheer for your side, enjoy some fancy riding patterns, and then the horse and rider teams will take a break as the arena comes alive with the spirit of the Wild West.
When you’re completely unable to blink due to amazement (Longhorn cattle? At dinner? Really?), the fun really starts. There’s singing and dancing, a little fancy horsemanship, some comedic relief, some good old-fashioned competition, and some of the most incredible trick-riding you’ll see this side of the Wild Wild West.
There are more surprises I won’t spoil, and if this isn’t enough to convince you to spend the price of a ticket, you’re a harder customer than I’ve ever come across. Altogether, the experience that is Dolly Parton’s Stampede will bring your group together in laughter, amazement, wonder, and fun. If that’s not worth coming back for again and again, I don’t know what is. And hey – it’s not every day you can say you watched kids chase the chickens around at dinner.
Tickets for Dolly Parton’s Stampede are available at dpstampede.com or by calling 800-356-1676. Group reservations are always welcome and Dolly Parton’s Stampede is happy to help with your accommodations. Many thanks to Dolly Parton’s Stampede for welcoming me at their show recently!