Dolly Parton
Mountain Press
April 7, 2002
Dolly embarks on new adventure
By Pat Dorwin

PIGEON FORGE - In typical rollicking Dolly Parton fashion, the mega entertainer showed off more than just cleavage Friday.

She came home to Sevier County for the debut of her new Adventures in Imagination attraction at Dollywood.

And no, she's not running for governor.

Parton mingled with the media and Dollywood passholders during the day, showing off a motion ride and memorabilia museum, held a press conference and then performed an eight-song concert that included tunes from an upcoming CD.

"Y'all think I could run for governor?" Parton asked a crowd that applauded in support at her press conference.  "I didn't even know much about that and now everybody's calling thinking I'm running for governor and it's big joke in our house.  And my husband, now anytime I ask him to do anything, or tell him to do anything, he'll say, 'Oh, yes, your Governess.'

"So it's like that's all I hear.  But he thinks I'd be perfect for that job because I haven't been able to balance a budget in my whole life...I'm too honest to be a politician.  That keeps me out of the race anyway."

Dollywood opens for its 17th season today and marks the second year for the Festival of Nations, which features entertainers from throughout the world.  The Parade of Nations is 10 a.m. today.

Friday, media toured Adventures in Imagination, a $10 million addition to the Park.

The Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure motion-ride takes patrons through the Smoky Mountains - by air and water - with Parton guiding and her "Cousin Clovis" flying his latest invention.  It's the kind of stomach-churning ride Wilbur Wright must have had his share of.

Chasing Rainbows might become home base for Parton fans when visiting Dollywood.  It's not being billed as a museum, but features a good chunk of Parton's life and career.

Photographs line the walls throughout, and upstairs in the "attic," Parton comes on screen to talk about what the memories mean to her and her taste in such items as clothing and carpet.

Guests will see Parton's Sevier County High School band uniform, listen to an old recording of her first single, "Puppy Love," and can read love letters she saved.

And if you want to see what you'd look like in a variety of Parton's wig styles, you can, through animated wig stations.  There are plenty of clothes, concocted from colors and in combinations not usually found in nature, in all sorts of Parton-esque styles.

While under photographs of Parton's family tree at Chasing Rainbows, she was presented the first Chasing Rainbows Award by the National State Teachers of the Year Organization for her work with literacy.  The award will be displayed in the museum, and each year a teacher will be honored.

"Of course, I hated school more than anybody in the world...I do more homework now just studying everything about the imagination than I did the whole 12 years I was in school.

"But I am just so happy that God has seen fit to put me in a position to, not only enjoy my success and have a good living at what I love to do, but to be able to come back and do things for the folks in this county here and especially the little kids."

For the first time in 10 years, Parton has formed a band and plans to tour with the group she has dubbed The Blueniques.

Parton's concert, during which she performed "Train Train," "Little Sparrow" and her version of "Shine," by Collective Soul, was open to the public.

Ever the workaholic, Parton has been toiling on a new CD, "Halos and Horns," which is due out in July.  She produced the recording and unveiled a song or two Friday at her concert.

"We did it all up here in east Tennessee," Parton said.  "We did all the recording in Knoxville at Southern Sounds Studio and used mostly people from up here.  I'm real excited about that."