One of the things I quickly learned about the deep south is everything is “country-fried”. Country-fried oatmeal. Country-fried lettuce. It doesn’t matter what it is … just cover it with batter, fry it and slather it with gravy. Done.
At Dollywood, the “fixins” aren’t heart-friendly, but they sure smack of comfort food. I had some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever wolfed down at Dollywood. I rationalized eating the funnel cake, the cookies and cinnamon roll, meanwhile, based on how much walking I did around the park.
Besides the old-fashioned locomotive that moseys up the mountain, there are rides and rollercoasters galore. Since it was raining and early in the season, the waits were minimal. I’ve never sat in the front of a rollercoaster before. Believe me, it’s nice to be the first to realize your about to plunge to your doom. One of the coasters actually snakes its way through the Smoky Mountains before plummeting you off the side of a cliff. It’s delightful, really. Oddly, the water rides were wildly popular the day I was there — and it was pouring. Was I the only person with enough common sense to carry an umbrella?
Dolly’s music permeates the park. Showtunes, bluegrass, duets … it’s all there for your listening enjoyment. And it’s sure to put a little spring in your step as you haul your fat butt up to the Country-fried Pickle stand. Sprinkled throughout the park are stages where Dolly’s kinfolk perform. Since everyone in the South is related by blood, Dolly’s relatives are nearing 17 million people … as far as I can tell. They stand on the stage telling stories about Dolly, singing her songs and sharing country-fried anecdotes.
Here’s the weird thing … I could not find one drop of alcohol sold on the premises. No beer. No whiskey. No moonshine. Apparently, when they say “family theme park” … they mean booze-free. Lord knows when I’m around my family is when I need alcohol the most. But everyone looked to be thoroughly enjoying themselves sans liquor. Maybe they were just so hopped up on sugar they didn’t care.
Meanwhile, smack dab in the middle of the town square (in Seivierville, TN), they have erected a bronze statue in Dolly’s honor. I would have never known this lest I saw it on a recent “60 Minutes” profile of Dolly. Of course, I had to make a pilgrimage to see the statue and bow to it. If I’m gonna have a false god … her name is Dolly Parton.