Willow OsbornePigeon Forge, Tennessee really turned out to be the wildcard in a 8 city road trip that included stops in Nashville, Chattanooga, Rome, Atlanta, Savannah, Charlotte and Asheville.  Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from the small eastern Tennessee town known for go-cart tracks, mini golf and lots and lots of tee shirt shops.

But, as I do with all of my destinations – I keep an open mind and always look for the bright side. As usual, I didn’t have to look very far.

After settling into my hotel, The Inn On The River (which was fantastic, by the way – the employees were all incredibly kind) I decided to check out a show before a full day of exploring and learning about the town. I was given a VIP card that gave me access to just about any show or activity you could think of in Pigeon Forge.  Completely, at random – I chose a program called Country Tonite which wasn’t far from my hotel.

The show was pretty much what I expected.  A handful of pretty good singers covering country music songs.  There was also some impressive dancing.   Unfortunately, there was also some pretty awful “comedy” – but that’s to be expected in a family show in a tourist town like Pigeon Forge.   The fact that there were live musicians and not a pre-taped soundtrack balanced out the damage done by the cheesy jokes.

At one point in the show, the host for the evening, introduced a 13 year old girl named Willow Osborne.  She came out on stage and began singing and playing the banjo.   It was at this point that the audience came to life. She had a great presence, a real confidence and she could really play.  It was then that I realized I should probably track down the person in charge and make this girl part of my Pigeon Forge coverage.

The management of the theater directed me to her Mom, a shy and humble woman named Gale.  We chatted in the back of the theater at intermission and she told me Willow’s story and invited me to Dollywood the following day to interview her and watch her perform at the theme park.

You never know where a story is going to lead you – and I certainly had no plans to visit Dollywood while in town, yet there I was.  Interviewing an incredibly sweet and talented young lady, at a pizza joint directly underneath a roller coaster. Go figure.

Here’s the interview with Willow Osborne.  It’ll be the best 5 minutes you’ve wasted at work all week.