Parks & Recreation
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cocke County is one of three Tennessee counties and three North Carolina counties with acreage encompassed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), the most-visited park in the United States. During the 1920s and 1930s, hundreds of Cosby residents gave up their homes and moved elsewhere as acreage for what would become the GSMNP was acquired.
Among the park entrances is one in Cosby, which leads to a popular campground and picnic area. Leading from the campground are numerous hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty the campground has 165 sites, three of which accommodate up to 20 people each. Sixteen sites are designated for RV’s. No reservations are required, but there is a camping fee. An amphitheater serves as an entertainment center for various gatherings such as the annual Cosby in the Park celebration each May. Visitors enjoy wildflower pilgrimages, bird-watching, hiking, photography, fishing, and other activities. Horseback riding is also popular. Occasionally black bears can be seen and visitors are warned not to approach them or feed them.
Some of the hiking trails include the Appalachian Trail, Snake Den Ridge, Low Gap, Hen Wallow Falls, Mount Cammerer, and Sutton’s Ridge. The Cosby entrance to the Park is not as developed as those in other counties, a fact which increases its enchantment for visitors.
Newport Parks & Recreation
With a constant finger on the pulse of the community, the Newport Parks & Recreation Department continues to provide an ever-increasing valuable service to Newport, Cocke Countians and visitors. The department continues to expand on a wide variety of activities for everyone to enjoy.
The city recreation department is responsible for the maintenance of several parks and playgrounds in Newport. Included are Newport City Park, Filbert Street Park, White Oak Park, Pet Milk Park, the Presbyterian Church Memorial Park, Eva Babb Sexton Memorial Park, and the Newport Grammar School Sports Complex. The football field at City Park is one of the locations where the Newport Little League football program plays its games. The program is for the Grasscutter, Super Grasscutter, and Pee Wee age groups. Also, major league, junior league, and senior league baseball games take place at City Park. Plus, several district and state tournaments are held at the tradition-rich Newport City Park baseball field. Play a game of tennis on the City Park tennis courts. The park offers the use of two pavilions, with grills available. There is a walking track, a swimming pool with pavilion, basketball court, playground, toddler playground, with sand box, a volleyball court, and concessions.
The pool opens during the summer months. Lifeguards are on duty at all times during operating hours. .
In addition, the Newport Parks and Recreation Department provides a large number of activities at the Newport Community Center. There is an Olympic-size heated indoor swimming pool, with lockers and shower facilities on the premises. The center also hosts meets of the Cocke County/Cosby High School swim team and the Newport/Cocke County Rapids swim team. Also at Newport Community Center, those interested can find a wellness room with total body elliptical cross-trainers, treadmills, bicycles, stair climbers and free weights, and a racquetball court. The gymnasium serves as site for the Recreation Basketball Other offerings include a game room, as well as the opportunity to take swimming lessons, or participate in bridge. There are gymnastics and dance instructors, step-aerobics, and yoga options as well.
Cocke County Recreation Department
The Cocke County Recreation Department is not only on the move, it continues to show steady growth in the number of local youth and adults who take advantage of the department’s valuable service. The facility includes: a gymnasium, and a small children’s playground to the rear of the building. At the main office location, there are two fields, one for baseball, and the other for softball.
It is lightning fast, and race fans who take in the action every Saturday night at Newport Speedway would readily agree. The 4/10-mile asphalt speed plant sees a late model turn a lap under 10 seconds. Add upwards of 30 cars in a feature and you’ve got short track racing at its best. Newport Speedway is the only asphalt track left in East Tennessee. It is tracks like this that provide a breeding ground for future NASCAR drivers and many have made a stop here.
Smoky Mountain Golf and Country Club is located at 1220 Golf Course Road, Newport, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and offers players a challenging round of golf with beautiful, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Smoky is one of the oldest and best golf courses in East Tennessee. Smoky Mountain celebrated its’ 50th anniversary in 2007. It is also home to the Cocke County High School and state champion Newport Grammar Middle School golf teams. The front nine is relatively open and affords the golfer with ample fairways to hit the long ball, while the back nine is somewhat narrow and requires a more delicate and controlled shot selection with control and distance rewarding above average players. The golf course has Bermuda fairways and bent grass greens with substantial undulation. Two of the holes, numbers 10 and 17, are rated by area golfers as two of the most difficult in East Tennessee. Amenities: Pro Shop, driving range, putting green, full-service restaurant, lounge, and swimming pool.
Baneberry Golf and Resort is located at 704 Harrison Ferry Road in Baneberry just across the Cocke County Line in Jefferson County off Highway 25E. An outstanding layout featuring gently rolling land, lakes, streams, and bunkers will challenge golfers of all abilities. Baneberry has twice been the home of the $75,000 Baneberry Classic that is held by the T. C. Jordan Tour (now the NGA Hooters Tour). Amenities include two putting greens, a chipping green, tennis courts, a large swimming pool, a boat ramp into Douglas Lake, and a club house with a pro shop, restaurant, lounge, and a spacious deck overlooking the front nine. Baneberry also offers two bedroom villas or large efficiency rooms. All have fully equipped kitchens.
Newport Theatre Guild
Organized in 1988, the Newport Theatre Guild promotes professional quality theatre and stage productions for area audiences. The guild grew out of the Newport Business Women’s production of the Broadway hit Oklahoma! in 1988. Several residents recognized the need for a local theatrical group and organized the guild. They immediately went into rehearsal for Arsenic and Old Lace.
Jerry Maloy directed the guild’s first effort, and the late Bob Mooty then guided the members through several highly successful productions. Over the years, the guild has brought numerous high quality shows to the Newport stage including such musicals as The Sound of Music, Carousel, Guys, and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, and A Christmas Carol and such stage productions as On Golden Pond, Rumors, Steel Magnolias, and Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean. During 2007-2008, the guild reached new heights of success with their highly praised premier production of Wilma Dykeman’s novel, The Tall Woman and the beautifully produced musical My Fair Lady.
Festivals are abundant in Cocke County
Activities at the various festivals include music, crafts, old-time demonstrations, cooking, and beauty pageants.
The fall festival season kicks off with the Newport Harvest Street Festival during the first weekend of October. Held in downtown Newport, the Newport Harvest Street Festival has two days of entertainment and vendors along a three-block area on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month. The festival provides top-notch entertainers and a variety of vendors offering food, crafts, and merchandise.
There are also educational displays and demonstrations. Each year something new and different seems to be added. The month’s next festival is Parrottsville Heritage Days, which is celebrated at Parrott-Larue-Myers Park in Parrottsville. It is held the second Saturday of October. The Parrottsville festival has kicked off on Friday evening with a Chili Cook-Off at the park pavilion. Heritage Days features a variety of entertainment, arts and crafts, and a variety of foods.
The On Cosby Festival, which is held at On Cosby Visitors Center begins on the third Friday of October and ends on Sunday evening. The festival includes the outdoor drama, “On Cosby”, other entertainment, and arts and crafts exhibits. Cosby Ruritan Club’s Ramp Festival, which is held on Kineauvista Hill in Cosby is the longest continual festival in the State. The festival, held the first Sunday in May, is dedicated to the ramp, which is a wild onion that grows abundantly in the local mountain areas.
And finally we conclude our month of festivals with Del Rio Days the 4th weekend in October. It includes live demonstrations such as making molasses as
well as entertainment. Children enjoy activities such as riding around
in a horse-drawn wagon. In 2011 the inaugural Del Rio Days Song Writing Contest was added to the event and was a huge success! Over 50 entries were received and a panel of judges named the winner during the festival.