As Gatlinburg, Tenn., seeks to rebuild while attracting visitors back to areas that were not impacted by recent wildfires, neighboring Blount County – home of “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies” with the Townsend vacation community and Cades Cove entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – reminds visitors that scenery, wildlife and outdoor experiences remain available and untouched by any fire damage.

To help drive visitor awareness to book winter and early-spring vacations, the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority (SMTDA) is releasing the latest of a new editorial cartoon series, entitled “We Want You” (harkening back to the old Uncle Sam recruitment posters of the World War I and II eras), with Smoky Mountain wildlife urging visitors to come visit, with their own “Y’all come back, you hear?” twang.

SMTDA commissioned the illustration with twice-Pulitzer-Prize-nominated editorial cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey.

State officials have encouraged visitors nationwide to continue to visit the Smoky Mountains, since the influx of tourism dollars will help Sevier County recover and maintain existing tourism commerce for areas like Blount County, which was not impacted by the wildfires.

Blount County’s Townsend entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open, as is the Cades Cove section of the park.

Upcoming events in Blount County include the Christmas Market at Cades Cove Cellars in Townsend, Dec. 16-17, 2017; the Pistol Ultra Run in Alcoa with 50K, 100K and 100-mile runs Dec. 31, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017; and the 2017 Winter Heritage Festival at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, Jan. 27-29, 2017.

For more information on Smoky Mountain vacations in the easy-to-access Blount County / Townsend area – only 30 minutes off the I-40 / I-140 Pellissippi Parkway corridor – go online to smokymountains.org.

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