What began as the Smokies Strong—A Bluegrass Celebration has prompted a donation of more than $128,000 to the Dollywood Foundation Wildfire Scholarship Fund. Officials representing the various donors as well as those from the Dollywood Foundation were on hand Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the Pigeon Forge Hospitality and Tourism Association meeting at the Mainstay Suites Conference Center.
Following the November wildfires in Sevier County, Moonstruck Management’s Josh Trivett, an East Tennessee native and bluegrass promoter, approached Pigeon Forge city officials with the idea to host a benefit concert featuring some of the top names in bluegrass music. Proceeds would benefit Sevier County students whose homes were lost.
“The idea came to me while watching news coverage on the fires,” Trivett said. The Pigeon Forge-based Dollywood Foundation agreed to be the facilitator of this effort and established a new scholarship category with the foundation’s existing scholarship program.
Trivett agreed to bring the talent for a weekend concert that featured Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Grascals, Flatt Lonesome, Volume 5, The Lonesome River Band, Barry Bales & Friends, Newtown, Dave Adkins Band, and Jimbo Whaley & Greenbriar, all of whom donated their time to perform during the two-night bluegrass celebration on Feb. 10 and 11 at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge.
Proceeds from ticket sales were earmarked for the scholarship fund. Once plans were in motion, the Dollywood Foundation garnered corporate and civic donations. Other organizations joined the fund-raising effort, too. At the February concert, the Sevier County Baptist Association presented Trivett with a $10,000 donation, and Sevier County High School donated proceeds from event t-shirts sales.
Later in February, the LeConte Center hosted the Make it Count Gymnastics Classic where event organizers and participating teams raised more than $1,000 in donations. Other contributors offering support are the American Contract Bridge League, $35,000; an anonymous gift of $25,000; Vulcan Materials, $10,000; the Kingsport Seventh Day Adventist Church, $4,800; Digital Marking, $3,000; and the Holloways Country Home, who collected more than $17,000 through a silent auction of donated quilts at A Mountain Quiltfest which took place at the LeConte Center March 21-25.
Dolly Parton established the Dollywood Foundation Scholarship Fund to provide support for Sevier County students to attend the university of their choice. The scholarship fund includes the Dolly Parton Scholarship, awarded annually to a student at each of Parton’s native Sevier County’s five high schools. In November 2016, the fund presented the One Million Children Scholarship, a special $30,000 scholarship awarded to a two-year-old Imagination Library participant to commemorate the literacy program’s achievement of a monthly enrollment of one million children. The Wildfire Scholarship will provide financial aid to students whose homes were lost to the fires.
Photo: Dollywood Foundation President David Dotson, Moonstruck Management’s Josh Trivett, Make It Count Gymnastics’ Tracy Counts, Barry Counts and Callie Counts.