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Dolly Fest Takes Over Old City

Dolly’s Rise to Fame

Before attending Dolly Fest, it is important to know where she comes from.

Dolly Parton is a country music hall of fame winner, philanthropist, godmother (to Miley Cyrus, nonetheless), and so much more. However, there were many stepping stones for her to become the Dolly we all know and love today. Dolly Parton was born on January 18, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, only an hour from Knoxville. Music was a family-wide hobby to the extent of having a family band. Desperate to escape her Appalachian life, she focused on music heavily and by the age of thirteen, she was making her first guest appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. At the young age of sixteen, she had recorded two singles for two different record companies.

Two years later, in 1964, she saw her chance, packed her bags, and moved to the big city. Nashville, Tennessee was her big step, and that step took her to places only some of us can dream of. From here, her career kicked off. She not only began making a name for herself as a songwriter but began recording more songs as well. You know her hits! 9 to 5, Jolene, I Will Always Love You, Coat of Many Colors, and so many more!

Dolly Gives Back

Even if you only know the hits, you probably still know about Dollywood. Dolly opened the park in 1985 with the help of a few investors, and you better believe she was just getting started. Dollywood and the Dollywood Foundation helped her establish the Imagination Library. It has become synonymous with Dolly Parton’s name, a constant reminder of her giving heart that has helped so many children across the world. Imagination Library ensures that even if they cannot afford it, they receive a book every month from the day they are born until they turn 5. Parton’s father could not read or write, and she knew that given the chance, she wanted to give young children a different fate. She has had such a significant impact, some children even call her “The Book Lady”.

Recognition

Parton’s work was something that did not go unnoticed not only by the citizens of the United States but the US government as well. To show appreciation for Dolly’s contributions to the US cultural landscape, the Library of Congress awarded Dolly with the Living Legend Award in 2004. One year later, she was given the honor of receiving the National Medal of Arts. This is the highest award artists are able to receive from the US government. In 2006, she was given the Kennedy Center Honors.

From a small mountain town in East Tennessee to the city streets of Hollywood, Dolly has always found ways to contribute to her community. As her success grew, her desire to give back to the people who helped her get where she did grew along with it.

Dolly Parton Mural near Dolly Fest in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Located just steps away from where Dolly Fest will be celebrated. Mural by Colton Valentine and restored by Megan Lingerfelt.

Dolly Fest in Knoxville

Are you sick of working 9-5? Well, Dolly is too! Take a break and join us for the 2nd annual Dolly Fest June 3rd-5th, the ultimate festival. Head on over to the Old City and enjoy Dolly-themed events held by local stores, galleries, restaurants, and bars. Knoxvillians come together to celebrate the country music icon and philanthropist all weekend long, enjoying music, food, games, and more. Old City is the perfect location for families and this fun-loving event. This weekend helps the city of Knoxville support the Imagination Library of Knox County which Dolly Parton founded in 1995 to inspire kids to love reading. Imagination Library has given 178 million books to children all over the world to support their learning growth and foster a love of reading, and you can be a part of that!

Dolly Fest Events will Include: 

  • Dolly look-alike competition
  • Five Performers  on Maine Stage on Maine Street
  • Dolly Art Contest 
  • Food trucks and Drinks 
  • Shopping 
  • Photo Ops

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