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Shades of the past Pigeon Forge Car Show and Rod Run

Posted by on August 10, 2017

Pigeon Forge Car Show and Rod Run
If you’ve never seen a car show or rod run in Pigeon Forge, TN you are in for a treat. Some of the most amazing cars you’ve ever seen will be displayed where you can get an up close look at the beautiful paint jobs and totally tricked out engines. These are car shows and rod runs second to none, drawing people from all over the world to see the unbelievable hot rods, classic cars, trucks, and other vehicles. The sheer number of vehicles is astounding and if you love cars, it’s something you need to experience at least once in your life. The Pigeon Forge car shows are some of the largest shows in the United States, beginning with the Spring Grand Rod Run each year and continuing on with the Shades of the Past and the Grand Fall Run. Though there are many more car shows, truck shows and bike rallies than those three they are the largest and most well known.

Pigeon Forge Rod RunHere are some tips on attending a Pigeon Forge car show:

Traffic: We can’t say this strongly enough—there will be traffic! Lots of traffic. It can take well over an hour or more to drive the 5 miles strip of the Pigeon Forge Parkway when there is a car show in town. It is bumper to bumper and almost total gridlock. People who come to Pigeon Forge without knowing a car show or rod run is in progress end up being frustrated and end up leaving with a bitter taste in their mouth about visiting Pigeon Forge. They may even decide to never visit Pigeon Forge again. Visitors should try to make sure they know the dates of the various car shows, rod runs and bike rallies before visiting. There are assorted websites available to check the dates of when there will be shows, especially the three major ones which will create the most traffic. One of these websites is Pigeon Forge, TN Guide and you can check their traffic alerts on their Pigeon Forge Calendar of Events at . You can also look at the bottom of this article for the major show schedule. Pigeon Forge car shows can be a world of fun if you arrive knowing what to expect when it comes to traffic and how busy Pigeon Forge will be during one of the best car shows or rod runs in the Eastern United States. 

There are many ways to be a spectator at a Pigeon Forge Car Show. Don’t be surprised to see fold up chairs lining the sidewalks of the Parkway and people milling about shoulder to shoulder with coolers and cameras and friends all around. There are “official” locations for judging and awarding prizes, places where vendors set up, etc. but the majority of car show visitors line the Parkway sidewalks, sit on hotel balconies and walk the parking lots because all of the action takes place up and down the Parkway. A multitude of show cars will be parked in parking spots lining the Parkway, making it easy for visitors to just walk up and down the sidewalks while they check out the fine rides parked there and talk to the owners and even wonder about the cars that just may be for sale. Car lovers may feel like a kids in a candy store but remember what your Momma told you—look, don’t touch. Owners will not tolerate visitors touching their prized babies unless you get permission. Be respectful of the owner’s time and money they have invested in their show car.

There are many other car shows but these are the major ones.
The Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion. Location is the LeConte Center. For more info visit:

Shades of the Past Car Show:

Location is Dollywood’s Splash Country. Major Traffic Alert for this one, folks. More info about the show: The Shades of the Past Car Show includes classics, customs and rods up to 1972. Expect Deuce Coupes and ’57 Chevys along with roadsters and much, much more. Some original and well preserved, some modified into amazing works of art, either way if you’re a classic car lover, you can find almost any make or model while visiting one of the best car shows in the United States to attend here in Pigeon Forge, TN. Shades of the Past Car Show has been taking place here since 1983. Using the location of Dollywood’s Splash Country helps cut down on traffic concerns as it can be accessed more easily. The water park closes the day after Labor Day, opening up the entire parking lot and water park to the car show for its use. It has been argued to be the absolute best location for a Pigeon Forge car show. To locate Dollywood’s Splash Country use the 1198 McCarter Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge, TN address in your GPS. The Official hotel to use for the Shades of the Past Car Show is Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort since it is close to the show and gives visitors easy access, not to mention less traffic from the Parkway.

Grand Fall Rod Run:

Location is LeConte Center. Major traffic alert for this one again, folks. This one is pure eye candy for car lovers. One of the favorite car shows of the year because of the normally cooler weather and the prospect of possibly seeing some fall color peeping into the trees. This show has thousands of hot rods and muscle cars of all years, makes, sizes and colors and it will be very hard to try to choose a favorite. A lot of visitors come into town earlier in the week to get  great spots along the strip and enjoy some of the restaurants and attractions before the multitude of the crowd arrives on the weekend. It is suggested to do exactly this to get a great spot on the Parkway and be ready for the traffic that will ensue on the weekend. You’ll already be there and be able to roam around on foot as you check out the great rides parked along the Parkway. There are many hotels along the Parkway with balconies to view the scene for you to stay or you can enjoy the comfy feel of your own cabin if you’d like to be a bit away from the hustle and bustle. It doesn’t cost anything to experience the Parkway during this amazing car show but if you are going to attend the “official” show with the judging and award presentation, there will be a fee to enter the LeConte Center. Don’t want to pay a fee? Set up your lawn chair on the Parkway and watch the rods cruise by all day and well into the night.
Spring Grand Rod Run location is the LeConte Center. Major traffic alert for this one too. A 3 day extravaganza for car lovers, the Spring Grand Rod Run has large cash prizes and over 25 awards for hot rods and muscle cars. There’s a huge swap meet with hundreds of show cars to browse and drool over. Again, want to watch the hot rods and muscle car cruise on by? Stake out a spot with your lawn chair, park your cooler beside you and kick back for a sight not seen anywhere else. Want a higher view of it? Book a hotel room, high up, with a balcony to get a bigger picture. Better yet, take a helicopter ride over the scene and get a much better idea of just how expansive this event is by flying high above the Parkway as the rides cruise back and forth down below.

So, with everything that happens during a Pigeon Forge Car Show, the best advice is to plan ahead. Arrive a few days early if it’s the car show you’re actually going to Pigeon Forge to enjoy. Stake out your spot to view all of the amazing cars, trucks, motorcycles or hot rods. Whatever is your fancy, you can find it in Pigeon Forge during a car show.

Want to get the feel of driving a fast car? In Pigeon Forge, you can find a few go carts that will go faster than you have imagined. Though not hot rods, they might soothe your craving. While you’re waiting for the car show to really kick in, you can also visit the Speedwerkz Exotic Car Museum to get a little taste of the expensive side of car ownership. There are many car related things to do in Pigeon Forge to satisfy any car lover’s cravings while they wait for the car show to begin.

Not only are there the big three shows; Spring Grand Rod Run, Shades of the Past Car Show, Grand Fall Rod Run, there are many other smaller car shows that aren’t to be missed. One of them is the Pontiacs in Pigeon Forge Car Show. This particular one has been happening for 17 years and continues on to next year which will be the 18th annual show slated to happen in May or June, dates to be announced soon. At this one you can see classic Pontiacs like GTO’s and Trans Ams and Firebirds. It’s a family oriented event and one of the high lights is a cruise from Pigeon Forge to Newfound Gap. It’s normally held over 3 days so be prepared to stay a while.

Another nifty show, though not a ‘car’ show, is the F-100 Supernationals Truck Show. This one has been going on for more than 30 years. “Truckin” magazine claims this show as the largest gathering of early model Blue Oval F1 and F-100’s — called ‘Effies’ by aficionados — displayed as custom, stock or pro-street classes. The trophies for this event can tower up to and over 5 feet tall. Another aspect of this show is the “Parade of Stars” display of trucks down the interstate where as far as the eye can see there are Fords.

One exciting thing you might witness and ‘hear’ during a few of these car shows, the Grand Spring and Grand Fall Rod Runs is, if you stay on the Strip, the line of hotels along the Parkway, the hot rods and muscle cars will be cruising up and down the Parkway all night long, revving engines and burning rubber. It’s exciting and fun to watch all of the beautiful, shiny cars driving up and down the strip, their chrome twinkling in the streetlights as they rumble down the street. This is the best time to be sitting either along the sidewalk where you can feel the growl of the engines, or up on a balcony at your hotel where you can watch as the rods jump and rumble at the red lights, waiting to kick it down when the light turns green.

Whatever your choice, whether it be trucks, classic cars, 57 Chevy’s, or hot rods, you can find it in Pigeon Forge at their famous car shows. Just be prepared for the crowds, the noise, the fun and the traffic and you’ll have a wonderful family oriented time enjoying the sounds, lights and bustle of the little town at the foot of the mountains. If you want to take a few minutes out of the bustle, you can go into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where nature will give you a taste of the beauty of the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas. If you own a classic car, part of the fun will be cruising down Newfound Gap Road, through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the paint and chrome glimmering in the sunlight that filters down through the trees and the nice, unhurried pace of the road will be just what the doctor ordered. Enjoy.  

Photo Credit: Steve Hodges


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