Ah, to be in the Smoky Mountains in autumn. The crisp, cool air on your

face. A mug of hot cider in your hand. The leaves changing to fiery hues.

The crunch of the leaves under your feet. There's nothing quite like autumn

in the Smokies.

What a better way to celebrate the changing of the seasons than at the

Townsend Heritage Festival and Old Timers' Day. This two-day festival, at

the Townsend Visitors Center on Friday, Sept. 24 and Saturday, Sept. 25,

offers visitors to the Smoky Mountains traditional bluegrass music and

Appalachian crafts amid the mountain scenery of Townsend.

The goal of the festival is to celebrate Appalachian life. Festival

activities will include music, storytelling and arts and crafts.

Bluegrass bands from the region will be playing throughout the two-day

event at the Townsend Visitors Center, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander

Parkway. Cloggers will accompany the music, demonstrating traditional

Appalachian dances.

Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the Smoky Mountain

Convention and Visitors Bureau, called this "one of the most beautiful

times of the year" for the Smoky Mountains.

"The mountains are amazing in autumn ... visitors to the Heritage Festival

can relax and enjoy traditional bluegrass music at one of the most

beautiful times of the year," Handly said.

A storytelling tent will be set up to entertain listeners with mountain

tales and legends, and craftsmen will demonstrate Appalachian arts.

Parking at the festival is free, and there is no festival admission charge.

For more information on the festival, or lodging and camping information,

call the Visitors Center at 1-800-525-6834 or check out the Smoky Mountain

Convention and Visitors Bureau online at

http://www.smokymountains.org.