PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. – It is almost April, which means RetroWeekend is right around the corner, bringing back memories from yesteryear along with it. The event, which takes place April 29-30 at LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., aims to thrill its attendees with a wide array of music, workshops, speakers and physical activities mainly related to the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. However, RetroWeekend Executive Director Steve Hall is quick to point out that the one-of-a-kind event is about much more than memorializing an iconic era in American history.
“While we are excited about the many ways RetroWeekend will benefit its guests, we are even more gratified by the powerful impact it will have on charities in East Tennessee and beyond,” Hall said. “Charities will receive at least 10 percent of every registration fee, but the reason that we have invested a great amount of time and money in this event over the past 18 months is to structure it as a sustainable event which can bring recurring and increasing income to charities hereafter.”
Those charities include area organizations such as Friends of the Smokies, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, Pigeon Forge High School and Wears Valley Ranch. National charities such as Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors also stand to benefit from the event’s proceeds.
“RetroWeekend serves to celebrate the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, but it’s also a celebration of the great work many organizations are doing to better our community,” Hall said.
One charity beneficiary is Discover Life in America, an organization committed to identifying and cataloguing every species within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. DLIA Executive Director Todd Witcher expressed his appreciation for RetroWeekend’s generosity.
“The ability of Discover Life in America to do our work, research, educate the public and provide conservation data largely depends on support from the community,” said Witcher. “The exact kind of support that we need is being provided by RetroWeekend, which has generously chosen us as one of its nonprofit benefactors.”
Although it takes place in East Tennessee, RetroWeekend advocates a message that can be shared nationwide. Colonel Lee Ellis, a Vietnam prisoner of war and author of the award-winning book Leading with Courage, will bring a message of courage and perseverance in his keynote address Friday evening.
”Everybody is going to face situations where they have to decide to do the right thing,” said Ellis. ”Part of my message about courage is to figure out what the right thing to do is, lean into the pain of your doubts and fears and have the courage to do what’s right.”
“I’m really excited about this event in every way: seeing the people there, hearing the music and visiting with old friends and people who aren’t friends but with whom I share a common bond,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ speech is part of Veterans Appreciation Day. Anyone who pre-registers for the event and provides proof of service will receive free admission to Friday’s festivities.
RetroWeekend attendee Larry Vaught is looking forward to the weekend’s diverse activities and admires its impact on the community. He is also eager to participate in a 5-mile, 916-yard race – a distance never before certified for a competitive race.
“I think Retro Weekend is going to be an inspiring and unique weekend. Pigeon Forge is always a great host community for any event because there is so much to do for all ages,” said Vaught. “To get to run in a race where I not only get to start at the front, but also know that I will set a personal best is a real bonus.”
RetroWeekend offers great opportunities to learn, compete, dance and laugh, all while making a significant charitable impact in the community. From featured workshops on health, wellness and financial management to an optional race to dance lessons, the weekend will place mental and physical health at the forefront of participants’ minds. A complete list of charity beneficiaries can be found at www.goretrorunning.com/about-3/charities/.
Registration fees will increase in April. To register or receive more information about RetroWeekend, visit www.goretrorunning.com/.