b'Spring in the smokies welcomes warm weather and exciting new adventures around every corner. This year, we are featuring an exotic addition to a zoo, an award-winning festival, and an anniversary for an adventure that has wowed families for decades. First up is Rainforest Adventures Tropical Discover Zoo, located just off of Collier Drive in Sevierville. With an impressively wide array of species from around the world, you can come face-to-face with numerous types of monkeys, lemurs, and rare and exotic creatures from around the globe. New in 2022 to Rainforest Adventures is the Axolotl, a critically endangered species of aquatic salamander. With only a few hundred left in the wild, these rare and adorable little guys are only found in one lake in Mexico City, Lake Xochimilco, but now you can see them up close and personal right here in the smokies! Some species of the Axolotl can glow in the dark and have the amazingability to regenerate limbs, spines and even organs such as their brain. Known for their infectious smiles and distinct personalities, Rainforest Adventures has over 200 baby Axolotl that will wow and amaze you and your family. Next up is the Bloomin BBQ Music & Food Festival, previously known as Bloomin BBQ and Bluegrass. If you are in the smokies from Friday May 20 through Saturday the 21st, you will not want to miss this award winning, FREE festival.Whether you enjoy toe-tapping tunes, devouring the nations best BBQ or simply enjoying the sights and sounds of one of the southeasts top festivals, this weekend of fun isperfect for you and your family. Held in Downtown Sevierville, Bloomin BBQ hosts multiple stages of entertainment, the Tennessee state Championship BBQ Cook-Off, the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition, countless vendors, and a kids area that is sure to keep the little ones entertained and amused. Free parking is available throughout downtown, and the event is free to attend. You do not want to miss this amazing festival. For more information on the festival, visit bloominbbq.com and come with an appetite for delicious food and unforgettable entertainment. Rounding out the featured excitement in Sevierville is Scenic Helicopter Tours and their 50th Anniversary of giving families an unforgettable view of the smokies. Scenic has unveiled a combined lake and mountain tour in one non-stop journey. Satisfying an overwhelming demand from guests, this tour combines the two most enjoyed flight paths that the tour offers. It provides guests the opportunity to fly alongside the French Broad River and over beautiful Douglas Lake, then head southward past Sevierville to Gatlinburg and Cove Mountain at the Nation Park boundary line. The flight covers approximately 50 miles and lasts about 25 minutes. Guests will see such notable landmarks as Wears Valley, Dollywood and of course the amazing views that can only be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For bookinginformation, visit their website at FlyScenic.com or call them at 865-453-6342.SmokyMountainNavigator.com 27'