Hot rod fever

By Matt Williams

Every September in Pigeon Forge you’ll see fall colors in the trees, feel the autumn breeze on your skin and… hear the roaring sounds of hot rods on the Parkway. Anyone who visits the Smoky Mountains during this period knows about the famous car show, as the strip is lined with the nicest and rarest automobiles in existence. One of the largest contributors is the Pigeon Forge Rod Run (formerly the Grand Rod Run). The event is said to be “The best car show in the Southeast.”

For several years this has been a two day show, but for the 32nd annual event the staff decided to make it three full days. The show will begin Thursday, September 11 at 9:00 a.m. and will end until the awards ceremony on Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

For years the show was held at the Grand Resort Hotel, but as of 2014 it has a new home, the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge (adjacent to the now closed Grand Resort Hotel). This year participants will have a kickoff party at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday at the Margaritaville Rooftop Pavilion on The Island. Given the hundreds of show cars at the actual event itself and up to 5,000 on the strip, many families have made Pigeon Forge their vacation destination in the fall. But if you’re not into hot rods, that’s perfectly okay, as this show is an “open show,” meaning, it attracts everything from muscle cars, classics, modifieds and cruisers, to mini trucks, import cars, high end production cars and everything in between.

The show has had 32 years to accumulate its vast amount of vendors, which mainly consisted of car parts, but has now grown to everything from the hottest parts and accessories to ladies apparel and purses. Rod Milligan, owner of ET Graphics and a partner of the Annual Fall Grand Run, stated that many show goers love to meet the faces behind their favorite car parts manufacturer and to get a hands on look at the latest “car candy.” Don’t forget to stop by one of the ET Motorgear booths to get your Pigeon Forge Rod Run apparel, the only officially licensed dealer for the event. For those that don’t have a vehicle to enter and wish to simply be a participant, one can enjoy free parking.

The 2014 event could certainly shape out to be the largest one to date, which helps boost the local economy. The show attracts over 75,000 additional tourists, which means a lot of local businesses welcome the emblematic sound of engines in the fall. Many in the area attribute a large part of the tourism to events such as Rod Run. For years Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have been known for their car shows. And we hope to see them for a long time to come.

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