Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Craftsmen and Beauty of the Smokies

Glass working artisan
Visiting Dollywood is a great way to see traditional craftsmanship at work. There is a section called "Craftsman's Valley" where the age old crafts are being plied. You can watch glass blowing, candy making, candle making, and even a blacksmith at work. Then you can purchase the products that have been made there.

It makes me sad when I think of "progress" and how it has replaced so much of the artistry that can only happen when things are made by hand. We have purchased many items to stash away as Christmas gifts for our family and friends. I would much rather help enable a master craftsman to be able to continue his proud heritage then to hand my money over for mass produced gifts.

Hand made glass pumpkins
Dollywood has been very careful to keep the beauty of the Great Smokey Mountains as a focal point. The land has remained hilly and windy with the most amazing flowers and plants throughout the park. Pride in both the area's heritage and Dolly's own personal history is evident everywhere you look. Many people become ashamed of their humble beginnings when they achieve success. Not so with Dolly. She is rightly proud of her roots and the people of her home.

Blacksmith in action
Something you also begin to notice about Dollywood is the abundance of workers that are what our society would call "retirement age." Talking to these workers you sense a deep respect for Dolly and a love for their jobs. We have seen several that used scooters to get around or walk with canes. Most employers would not view these as prime candidates for employment but they do a great job and have very upbeat personalities. The food vendors seem to be college or high school students.

Yes, we had another full day of riding the rides. The coal burning train is always a favorite of David's. He rode the Demolition Derby for the first time. You know David—he had a blast and rammed everyone he could. Then we ended up getting soaked on River Battle.

We found a place we knew we had to eat at for breakfast today. In fact it's been a running joke in our family for 22 years. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about it.

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