PARTY READYTOPLAY GOINGONRIGHTHERE’ 10 By Mitch Moore A 2013 study by the Tourism Travel and Research Association at the University of Massachusetts Amherst concluded that festivals and special events play a significant role in improving the quality of life within a community. That may very well explain one reason folks around here love calling Blount County home. Kool and the Gang may not have roots in Blount County, but they would find plenty to “Celebrate” here. From Maryville to Alcoa to Townsend, events calendars have something to offer locals and visitors all year long. “We try to focus on events that are unique, that celebrate our traditions and make our community special,” says Blount Partnership Tourism Director Kim Mitchell. “Events bring people into our area, and that translates into an economic impact on the com- munity, but it can also result in people relocating here because of that quality of life.” It’s something of a domino effect: Major events attract visitors. Visitors like what they see. Some come back to vacation homes, and some put down new roots here. Businesses have found success by including factors like the abundance of local festivals as a recruiting tool helps attract employees of all ages. Economic impact aside, Blount County festivals and special events are simply fun ways for families to enjoy the Smoky Mountain lifestyle. Many of these happenings are free, and the diversity en- sures that any time of year, there’s a celebration in store that everyone will enjoy. Here’s a sampling: ‘THERE’SA Basically Blount 2018