Cocke County is filled with historic sites to see such as the Swaggerty Fort in Parrottsville.
Tucked in the northeast corner of Cocke County, the average traveler would not necessarily find Parrottsville, unless they were driving from Newport to Greensville. Along the way, a traveler would discover that Parrottsville is one of the oldest towns in Tennessee dating back to 1780, a decade before Tennessee became a state and just a few years post American Revolution.
The original settlers of Parrottsville came from Germany. Two properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Yett Ellison House (1857) on Main St and the Swaggerty Block House just north of the downtown on 321 along Clear Creek.
A controversy regarding the date of the structure and purpose was debated until 2009. Blockhouses were fortifications built on edges of the western frontier to protect settlers and to protect Indian lands. The name Swaggerty dates back to an early settler- James Swaggerty, around the time of 1787. Conflict between the settlers and Native Americans were heightened due the Indigenous People’s alliance with the British during the Revolutionary War, and with the repeated breaking of land treaties by settler expansion onto tribal lands.
While the Swaggerty blockhouse has features of a frontier blockhouse, research conducted by graduate student, D Mann, University of TN in 2009* proved that the building was likely built in 1860 by land owner and farmer, Jacob Stephens.
Bringing with it an atmosphere of nostalgia and a chance to create new memories, the Newport Harvest Street Festival has for 37 years served as a premier East Tennessee community celebration event
Heralding the onset of fall and launching the start of Cocke County’s annual season of weekend festivals, the Street Festival strikes a cheerful balance between old and new.
Many of the vendors and participants have been returning year after year, becoming an integral part of the festival’s identity. This continuity is essential for the festival’s charm, as it allows visitors to relive cherished memories. Whether it’s savoring a favorite treat from a familiar food stall or reconnecting with long-time friends, the Newport Street Festival has a unique ability to transport attendees back in time.
But what makes this festival truly exceptional is its capacity for renewal, year after year. Alongside the familiar faces, there are new vendors, attractions, and activities waiting to be discovered. This delicate blend of tradition and innovation is what keeps the festival fresh and exciting. It’s a testament to the organizers’ commitment to providing a diverse and engaging experience for both long-time attendees and first-time visitors.
“We’ve got vendors that have been coming for as long as I know and before, and then we’ve always got new ones,” said Lynn Ramsey, Cocke County Chamber of Commerce director and an organizer of the event since 2008. “We have everything from crafts and Christmas and fall decorations to children’s toys. Some people are selling different kinds of stones and herbs and handcrafted soaps and a lot of handmade arts and crafts. A lot of churches will come and give away information, and sometimes they give away free stuff like bottles of water to drink.”
Ramsey said this year’s festival will be expanding over its previous layout — something that hasn’t been done since she was attending the festival as a child.
“We are going to go out on Main Street out in front of Roscoe’s Treasures, opening that back up,” said Ramsey. “It used to be open years ago, so we are excited to be expanding it again.”
If the weather is beautiful and the sun graces the streets of downtown Newport with its warm glow, turnout can run as high as 6,000 people or more. Clear blue skies and crisp autumn air set the stage for a weekend filled with laughter, music, and delicious food.
Food trucks and tasty treat-serving tents line the streets and fill the air with the enticing aromas of all your favorite festival snacks and beverages, from fresh squeezed lemonade, corn dogs and spiral taters to funnel cakes and deep-fried desserts.
And of course, no Tennessee festival would be complete with music, and the Newport Street Festival always serves a wonderful variety guaranteed to get your body moving to the sweet beats and lively melodies. This year’s lineup includes: Stone Mountain Band, Southern Addiction Band, Mikki Norwood Band, as well as soothing harmonies by Classical Strings. Energetic dance numbers by talented local youth from Max Movement Dance and Fitness will also be showcased. On Sunday, start your morning off with a Sunday service by Bridgeport Freewill Baptist Church, everyone is invited to attend.
Make sure to see all the lovely ladies and babies that come to compete to be 2023’s Harvest Queen in their appropriate age division. Children up to 16 years of age will compete in pageants according to their age bracket. The ever-popular Miss Newport Harvest Festival, for females ages 16-21 years old, will be the last pageant of the day. All pageants will be on the Broadway side of the Courthouse lawn on Saturday at 10:30 am.
The Newport Harvest Street Festival is a testament to the enduring spirit of close-knit community and the power of Appalachia traditions. It’s a place where locals and visitors alike come to relive old memories and create new ones, where the past and present seamlessly merge in a celebration of life in Cocke County.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in the US, but did you know that the national forests and public lands surrounding GSMP offer an abundance of trails, waterfalls, camping, and pet-friendly options away from the more crowded trails and heavy traffic on the roads? Planning your vacation? Start here in the Gateway to the Smokies.
Your journey begins with the drive. For visitors traveling the south and from the east, consider taking a different route to avoid congested roads and the many traffic lights.
Sitting in the shadow of the national park are two affordable destinations – Newport and Cosby- for your Smokies vacation.
Which are Gateway Exits?
From I 40, make exits 443 (Foothills Parkway), 440 (Wilton Springs), and 435 (Newport, SR321) as your Gateway to the Smokies exits.
Exit 432 needs to be your preferred exit for staying on Douglas Lake and day tripping to your favorite attractions.
When you stay away from the more expensive portions of the Smokies, your vacation will be more relaxing and more affordable. Plus, you are were you will find funky small shops, uncrowded trails, and those mom and pop restaurants that make vacations fun. Parking will not be a worry.
Here are some of our favorite lodging choices to make your basecamp:
Holiday Inn and Suites Express and Hampton Inn are two branded chains in Newport. Depending on the dates of your travel, prices can range from $125 to $180.
If you are bringing your pet, consider the Econo Lodge off exit 440. You will be close to the GSMP, Cherokee National Forest, Douglas Lake, plus an outdoor pool after a day of adventure. Your pet is welcome on the trails of the National Forest and the Martha Sundquist State Forest. One exit up is Hartford, with some great BBQ dining along the Pigeon River.
Camping- New this year is Roamstead. Not only are there traditional campsites, but you can book a cabin or a yurt. Prefer a place along the river? Check out Pigeon River Camping. There are options for RVs, tents, and small cabins.
Cabins- If you are looking for that special place with cozy cabins, crackling campfires, and star filled skies, look no further than Creekwood Inn at Whisper Wood Farms. Not only is their onsite dining, but the Inn will prepare a picnic basket for your day on the trails.
To see more, click here Come see why we call this I40 corridor the “Gateway to the Smokies.”