Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Ben La Pointe steadies a log as Gabriel Lennon, 7, cuts into it with a saw during the Walker Farm Pioneer Days at Audubon Acres on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020.

Area residents can make quantum leaps in their festival-going this week. Walker Farm Pioneer Days has children traveling back in time, and a reimagined HoHo Expo has shoppers hitting fast-forward toward the holidays.

Now in its ninth year, Pioneer Days at Audubon Acres, which continues through Friday, is a chance to showcase the property's legacy before it was preserved as a wildlife sanctuary in 1948. Spring Frog Cabin, which historians believe was built by Cherokees during the mid-1700s, would later be the home of the Walker family, whose most famous member was Robert Sparks Walker (1878-1960). The noted author and naturalist founded the Chattanooga Audubon Society.

Executive Director Darlene Carlson said visitors will find 12 outdoor stations that showcase ways of life in the 1800s.

"The main stations are the cider press, the butter churn, cornhusk dolls, the [spring-fed] well and wood tools," she said. "Those are all favorites."

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Fall festivals


The tours are designed for elementary-age children. With many public schools prohibiting field trips because of coronavirus concerns, most of the registrations have come from private schools and home-school groups, she said.

"Obviously, because of COVID, this year the event is much smaller and we're having to limit the groups," Carlson said. Face masks are required for ages 4 and older. Registration is available online or by phone.

The Times Free Press-sponsored shopping extravaganza known as the HoHo Expo has been rebranded as HoHo To-Go this year. Rather than finding vendors gathered at the Chattanooga Convention Center, as in years past, shoppers will be directed from the website to a lineup of businesses to visit for toys, home decor, jewelry, clothing and other gifts.

When you visit a participating business, you'll receive a code word to enter at for a chance to win $1,000.

"We wanted to continue our long tradition of working with our local businesses to provide Chattanooga the best and biggest holiday shopping experience, but obviously we had to change the format this year from our annual expo," said marketing and events manager Kate Brennan. "We believe our HoHo To-Go will be a safe and fun alternative this year that highlights lots of great local shopping destinations and provides great prizes for people while they are doing their holiday shopping."

Meanwhile, Warrior, Alabama, becomes a third day-trip destination for Chattanoogans wanting to immerse themselves in holiday lights. Rickwood Caverns opens its Wonderland Under Warrior on Saturday, installing 100,000 twinkling lights amid the cave's stalactites, stalagmites and other geological formations. The tour is about a mile long with 30 steps.

It joins Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Stone Mountain Christmas at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta with light shows and other activities.

Email Lisa Denton at


NOV. 18-20
— Walker Farm Pioneer Days: Audubon Acres, 900 N. Sanctuary Road. Heritage celebration with hands-on demonstrations of pioneer skills, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (by timed entry). $7.50 ages 4 and older. 423-892-1499,

NOV. 21-22
— HoHo Expo: Visit local businesses for gift ideas and code word to enter online for chance to win $1,000.

NOV. 21-DEC. 30
— Wonderland Under Warrior: Rickwood Caverns, 370 Rickwood Park Road, Warrior, Ala. Christmas lights and music in the cavern, 2-8 p.m. CST Nov. 21-29 (closed Thanksgiving Day), Dec. 2-6, Dec. 9-13 and Dec. 16-30 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). $10 ages 3 and up. 205-647-9692,

NOV. 24-29
— Thanksgiving Craft Show: Gatlinburg Convention Center, 234 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, Tenn. Handcrafted gifts by local artisans, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

— Smoky Mountain Christmas: Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. More than 5 million lights, award-winning shows, food treats, fireworks. $79 ($69 children and seniors).

— Stone Mountain Christmas: Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, Ga. Nightly snow parade, tree lighting ceremony, Santa sleigh flight, open weekends plus Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks (closed Christmas Day). Admission fees.