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wildflowerfeature3-3Each year, more than six hundred people from more than thirty-five states and beyond descend on the Great Smoky Mountains as flowers bloom in almost every hue to explore plant and animal life during the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage. The event is sponsored, in part, by several departments at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The sixty-fourth annual pilgrimage will be held April 15–19. Online registration is now open.

This year’s event will kick off with a welcoming luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, at the Mills Conference Center. It will feature Mary Priestly, curator of the Sewanee herbarium and author of William’s Wildflowers, a children’s field guide to wildflowers narrated by a honeybee. Priestly will discuss reading as a way to introduce children to nature.

The pilgrimage will include almost 150 guided walks and indoor presentations covering the region’s rich wildflowers, fauna, ecology, and cultural and natural history. The event also will feature a photography contest and a gallery of vendors, native plant growers, exhibitors, and a series of documentary and natural history films about the park at the conference center.

Tickets are $75 per person for two or more days. Single-day tickets are available for $50. Student tickets are $15 and must be verified with a student ID.

The Wildflower Pilgrimage is a collaboration of UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society, the City of Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Garden Club, Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Faculty and graduate students from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Division of Biology, and Department of Geology are involved in the event.

Ken McFarland, a senior lecturer in the Division of Biology, is chairman of the pilgrimage organizing committee and has volunteered since 1976.

For more information, call 865-436-7318, ext. 222, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or visit the Wildflower Pilgrimage website.

C O N T A C T :

Ken McFarland (865-974-6841,