PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 2010)—During her annual Dollywood Homecoming festivities on May 8, Dolly Parton dedicated the Friendship Fountain, a tribute to her many friends and family members from the entertainment industry who have appeared at her Pigeon Forge theme park.
“This is truly a stroll down memory lane, remembering all the great entertainers who’ve visited Dollywood during the past 25 years. I’m just proud to have my own theme park where I can create a lasting tribute to dear friends like Kenny (Rogers) and Burt (Reynolds) and legends like Bob Hope, and of course, my own talented family. I hope my Friendship Fountain brings them the same joy that it does me, just knowing I remember our good times and great memories.” Parton said.
“And knowing Kenny and Burt, I’m sure they remember me with some dusty old picture they’ve got hanging in their garage or attic!” she laughed.
Rogers and Reynolds first visited Dollywood in 1990 and 1992, respectively.
The ceremony also honored current Dollywood performers James Rogers, The Kingdom Heirs and The Kinfolks, all of whom are marking their 25th season performing at Dollywood.
The Friendship Fountain, a popular Dollywood landmark, features more than 220 stars commemorating the year in which the respective entertainer first visited or appeared at Dollywood.
The stars measure eight inches in diameter and weigh 1.5 pounds each. It took Dollywood’s master craftsman Johnny Fuller approximately four hours to make each star in the collection, which is permanently displayed on the fountain’s red brick base. The iconic fountain was added to the park’s Rivertown area in 1989.
The stars were relocated from the park’s Friendship Gardens, which Parton dedicated on April 25, 1992, as part of Dollywood’s seven-acre Showstreet addition that year. Burt Reynolds, Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson and Lily Tomlin were on hand for the opening festivities. Each artist’s star will now be displayed at the Friendship Fountain, which was the focus of a landscape renovation project completed in March and featured on a May episode of DIY Network’s The King of Dirt.
The Friendship Fountain honors performers from both television and the silver screen as well as artists from all musical genres. Among those represented are Reba McEntire (1992), Ralph Stanley (1992), Trisha Yearwood (1992), Shania Twain (1993), Kenny Chesney (1994), Tab Hunter (1995), Little Richard (1995), Jim Nabors (1995), Brad Paisley (2000) and Bill Cosby (2002). Parton’s family members include her Uncle Bill Owens (1986), who Parton often credits with helping launch her career.
Dollywood’s 25th anniversary season continues through Jan. 1, 2011, with special daily celebrations. KidsFest, the South’s largest children’s festival, gets under way June 11 with the all-new Adventure Theater.
The award-winning 150-acre theme park, located near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the current winner of the industry’s Golden Ticket Award for Best Shows and Best Christmas Event. In addition, Dollywood’s live entertainment has won 15 Big E Awards, more than any other theme park in the world, from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.