Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Dollywood’s Entertainment Manager, Roger White.
When I was a teenager, I worked at a small 1000-watt AM radio station located in a mill valley town in South Carolina. Being so small, the station was only allowed to operate during daytime hours. Each morning it had to “sign on,” and each evening it had to “sign off.” This meant, at night, shutting the transmitter down and literally going off the air. The process began with an announcement and a particular song was played.
The mornings always featured The Star Spangled Banner by The Statler Brothers. The “sign-off” song was one called “Suppertime” by a man named Ira Stamphill. Oh, how I hated that song. As a teenager, I felt it was whiny and sad and certainly not very cool. Definitely not as cool as the 1980s country music I got to play the rest of the day. (All my friends thought I was a dork anyway for even LIKING country music!) Nonetheless, “Suppertime” was the old guy who owned the radio station’s favorite song, so I played it. I later found out that he listened in every evening at sign-off for that song.
As I got older, went through my life, college, marriage, jobs, kids, etc., that song always stuck with me. Ironically, I recall that as I drove home in high school after working at the radio station, it was always “suppertime” at my house. Mom always had something for me to eat; it was warm; my dad and sister were there; and it was simply a constant. I suppose I kind of looked at it as comforting and perhaps even a reward for a good day of work or school. The song’s lyrics speak of “an old familiar pathway” and “fond memories of childhood.” How that song’s lyrics ring true today! How many of us wish we could experience that once more?
Later, I discovered that “Suppertime” was a big hit for the legendary Cathedrals and also recorded by Johnny Cash and Porter Waggoner, among others. While “Suppertime” speaks of a spiritual reward in heaven, I can’t help but draw parallels to that song’s words and music with Dollywood’s Harvest Festival.
When the Harvest Festival arrives, everyone is ready for the autumn weather, the fall colors, the crisp air and the feeling of familiarity—especially after a hot and humid summer. The knowledge of a good harvest – a good reward for hard work – brings an honest feeling of satisfaction and happiness. Dollywood rolls out these feelings every October with comfort foods like fried chicken and creamed corn at Aunt Granny’s, beautiful decorations of pumpkins all over the park and, of course, good ole Southern Gospel music.
This season at Dollywood will be no different, because I know that my “suppertime” will consist of a spiritual re-birth fueled by families enjoying mountain crafts, the smell of cinnamon bread, and music from favorites like The Isaacs and Gold City. Yet, this year’s “suppertime” will include some different things on the menu like the all-new Great Pumpkin LumiNights and musical guests that haven’t performed at Dollywood in awhile, like Misty Freeman or for the first time ever, Ivan Parker.
I’m sure the song “Suppertime” will be sung by someone on a stage at Dollywood during October as we celebrate the opportunity to “come home, we’re going home at last.”
Won’t you join us?