The biggest event in Southern gospel music, the National Quartet Convention (NQC), has committed to a third year in Pigeon Forge in 2016 and has options on dates through 2020, according to Clarke Beasley, NQC executive vice president, and the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
The weeklong event moved to the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge in 2014 and recorded its largest attendance in 13 years, drawing more than 40,000 individuals.
“We’re gearing up now for our second year in Pigeon Forge. This year’s dates are Sept. 27–Oct. 3, 2015 and advance indicators confirm that we are again going to have phenomenal attendance,” Beasley said.
The National Quartet Convention was one of the earliest events booked at the LeConte Event Center and its leaders committed to 2014 and 2015 while the building was still under construction. The event takes full advantage of the 232,599-square-foot facility for nightly concerts, autograph opportunities and tradeshow activity.
“Working with National Quartet Convention, we are implementing several changes for 2015, including some tiered seating and more space for vendors,” said Phil Campbell, facility manager for the LeConte Event Center.
Beasley expects visitors from at least 40 states and six countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
“Considering the success of 2014, we wanted to lock in 2016 now so people can make travel plans. Dates next year are Sept. 25–Oct. 1,” Beasley said.
The National Quartet Convention started in 1957 in Memphis, Tenn., and later moved to Nashville. It was in Louisville, Ky., for 20 years before relocating to Pigeon Forge.
“Pigeon Forge loves the National Quartet Convention,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “NQC entertains its guests royally, and we get to showcase our city and the Great Smoky Mountains. We polled the guests in 2014, and 47 percent of them said they planned to visit us again outside of NQC’s dates.”