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Rediscover Tennessee and all it has to offer

Rediscover Tennessee and all it has to offer

Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:01 pm
By: Phil Bredesen

Dear fellow Tennessean:
One of the honors I have as Governor is visiting with Tennesseans in their communities across the state. Tennessee is blessed with a rich history, an abundance of entertainment attractions and unrivaled outdoor appeal, which nearly 50 million visitors from all over the world come to enjoy each year.
We are fortunate to have all of this right in our own back yards, particularly in a time when most families are scaling back their budgets. I encourage all Tennesseans to take the opportunity to rediscover all our state has to offer.
Each year brings new attractions to the tourism industry and milestones to celebrate, and 2009 brings us an event of particular significance — the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This milestone gives us the opportunity to celebrate the past and recommit ourselves to preserving and protecting America’s most visited national park for the future.
This national treasure was once a vision led by thousands who, over a period of years, lobbied, raised money and faced tough challenges to make the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a reality. They knew it would become a valuable resource, but I think if they were here today, even they would be astounded to learn that 10 million visitors from all over the world enjoy the park every year.
Tennesseans can enjoy a wide array of activities and events in the park and throughout its gateway cities to commemorate this landmark year. For more information on the park celebration and events, visit www.greatsmokies75th.org.
The 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War is also quickly approaching. Tennessee has a rich Civil War heritage and is second only to Virginia in its number of battlefields.
Last year, our state joined the Civil War Trails program, a multi-state initiative that has created driving tours and interpretive markers for both famous and lesser known sites across Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. Consider taking a drive – or a hike – to learn more about the profound social and political upheaval experienced here in Tennessee. For a list of historical markers placed as part of this program, visit www.tnvacation.com/green/heritage/civil-war/trails/.
Another 2009 milestone in Tennessee is the 100th anniversary of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, one of Tennessee’s oldest and best known attractions. The Choo Choo’s first train ran in December 1909 but became world famous in the 1940s when the original Glenn Miller orchestra released the popular tune “The Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Throughout the rest of this year, the Choo Choo will commemorate the anniversary with events and even a big-band performance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. To learn more about the Choo Choo and other Chattanooga attractions, visit www.chattanoogafun.com.
Families can also explore the county fairs that draw more than three million people each year.
In addition to showcasing the best of Tennessee agriculture, county fairs are a source of education, community pride and enjoyment – not to mention the place to have a treat, watch an exhibition or take part in a fiddling contest.
Like the industry they serve, agricultural fairs are a long-time tradition in Tennessee and will continue through early October. County fairs are a tradition for the whole family to enjoy. To find a complete listing of fairs in Tennessee, visit www.picktnproducts.org.
Tennessee’s 53 state parks offer great family fun all year long.
Our state parks are ranked best in the nation, and they offer unique recreation opportunities and quality accommodations close to home. In fact, there is a Tennessee State Park within a one-hour drive of just about anywhere in the state. Accommodations range from camping to cabins and inn rooms, and state parks offer a variety of outdoor entertainment including hiking trails, water sports, mountain biking, golf and skeet shooting. For a comprehensive schedule with detailed event descriptions and contact information, visit www.tnstateparks.com, or call 1-888-867-2757 to request a free parks brochure.
The summer section of www.tnvacation.com can help Tennessee travelers find drive-in theaters, train rides and water parks located close to their home town. The site also offers gas saver tips, interactive maps and trolley listings that can help make Tennessee getaways a painless way to travel. Or you can call 1-800-GO2-TENN to request a free vacation guide.
As you plan your recreational and family activities throughout the rest of the year, I hope you’ll take advantage of the celebration going on in your backyard – right here in Tennessee.
If you have any questions or comments about this issue or any other, please e-mail me at phil.bredesen@tn.gov.
Published in The Messenger 8.25.09

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