Do you enjoy live music? Are you a fan of acoustic sounds in the fresh autumn air? Are outdoor festivals your type of thing? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, Dollywood is the place for you from now until Oct. 31. With more than 800 live performances on tap for the 2020 Harvest Festival presented by Humana, Dollywood is offering its largest and most diverse musical lineup in the 35-year history of the park.
So how does a robust lineup like this come together and who is responsible for procuring and scheduling all of these world-class performers? The entertainment office at Dollywood is the answer, and the charge is led by Roger White, who as he put it “just gets to help really talented people do what they do best.” I was lucky enough to steal a few minutes out of Roger’s busy day to ask him a few things about putting together the largest entertainment schedule in Dollywood history.
Roger and his team put together such an outstanding lineup this year because, as he put it, “This year, it just felt like we needed to give our guests every opportunity to enjoy Harvest Festival and give them the most we have to offer under the circumstances.” While Southern gospel music has traditionally dominated this festival, Roger and his team were able to pull in different artists from all different genres of music to fill out the schedule. “We really hated that we had to miss Barbeque & Bluegrass this year, so we decided to expand our Harvest Festival with some of those bluegrass entertainers that we know our guests love,” said Roger.
It doesn’t take you long on a single stroll through the park to hear all different kinds of music coming out of every corner of all 11 themed areas. Harvest Festival truly has a festival feel to it this year, thanks in large part to the live performances throughout Dollywood. One of the new features to Harvest Festival this year is the inclusion of 10 – 12 ‘Streetmosphere’ performers that aren’t advertised or listed, but they provide a really neat bonus for your day at the park. Roger gave a tease saying there will be, “fiddlers, banjo players and even a performer known as the Tennessee Ukulele Lady.”
So just how does one go about scheduling 800+ performances over the course of a month? “We were tasked with being creative and moving all of our artists and entertainers outside this year due to the Tennessee Pledge and wanting to keep everyone in a safe environment. This gave us the opportunity to create new viewing experiences at Dollywood, so now we have a stage outside of the Chasing Rainbows Museum, we have a stage in The Village beside the train depot, and we have a stage set up on the steps of the Robert F. Thomas Chapel.” These new viewing opportunities go along with Back Porch Theater and the Valley Theater give guests a real sense of fall in the air and Harvest Festival at Dollywood. Roger went on to say, “We have three outstanding partners who help us with bringing in artists they know our guest will enjoy. Singing News Magazine and Praise 96.3 Radio have always been great with our Southern gospel audience and Knoxville’s own WDVX have helped us out during Barbeque & Bluegrass. These three partners are so important and so helpful in bringing in top-notch talent to the stages of Dollywood.”
Are you as excited to hear live music in the crisp Smoky Mountain air as I am? I sure hope so – I know for myself and our family, it doesn’t get much better than fall at Dollywood and listening to some of the greatest and most-talented Christian artists around. Or as Roger put it, “This is art, and we are excited for people to be in the park with us and enjoy Dollywood at its very best.”