Mt. Juliet will be a mecca for all things outdoors for the next three days with an all out bash that includes a chance to swap swamp tales (and get autographs and selfies) with the infamous History Channel's "Swamp People," attend concerts performed by modern country music legend Darryl Worley, meet the "Bone Collectors" and so much more at Gander Mountain's first anniversary bash.
It's an outdoors-loving, country-music craving li'l peace of heaven with a plethora of free entertainment for what's predicted to be thousands of people looking for a good time.
Gander Mountain, the premier outdoorsman's store, is celebrating its first anniversary in Mt. Juliet located on Belinda Parkway. This location is the first in the middle Tennessee region and one of 160 stores nationwide, according to Store Manager Alton Johns.
The nearest locations are Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Knoxville. It's a growing enterprise with 25 new locations opened just last year.
"We cater to the outdoorsman," Johns said. "That's what sets us apart. Hunting, fishing, kayaking and items for these type people."
He said the extended celebration is "loaded with really big name performers, celebrities, activities (many for children) and is just a really big deal."
Johns said the biggest draw most likely will be father and son pair Troy and Chase Landry of the show "Swamp People."
"People can just really relate to them," Johns said.
In its sixth season, the show's set in the swampy bayous of Louisiana and is about alligator hunters (and much more). The cult hit has turned into a serious mega show. The Landry stars will be on hand Friday from noon until 3 p.m.
"We expect them to sign about 1,000 autographs in the three-hour session," Johns said.
Another huge draw is country music artist Worley. "He's a great customer, and we've gotten to know him well," Johns said.
Worley has produced nearly 20 hit singles, including three No. 1's, as well as chart-topping albums and sales in the millions. He has topped the charts with singles including "I Miss My Friend," "Awful, Beautiful Life" and "Have You Forgotten," which accomplished the feat for one, two and an incredible seven weeks, respectively.
He hit the Top 20 with the first three singles from his impressive major-label debut, Hard Rain Don't Last-"When You Need My Love," "A Good Day to Run" and "Second Wind" - and followed with smashes like "If Something Should Happen," "I Just Came Back From a War" the iconic "Tennessee River Run," and "Sounds Like Life To Me," according to his website.
Along the way, he earned nominations for five major Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards, including "Song of the Year" and "Single of the Year," and wrote songs for other artists including George Jones.
Johns said there's a huge stage set out in the parking lot and he'll perform Friday 8:3-9:30 a.m. with a meet and greet following until 10:30 a.m. He'll also perform both Saturday and Sunday from 2-3 p.m. each day, with an hour meet and greet following his performances.
Up-and-coming country artist Kristen Kelly just released her CD three weeks ago and also is a favorite customer at Gander. She'll perform Friday, as well, from 2-3 p.m., with a meet and greet afterward.
Country music artist and host of "Headhunters TV," Nate Hosier, will perform Saturday and Sunday, along with Drake White, another well-known artist, who will be showcased Sunday.
Along with all the entertainment, there's a plethora of fun events for children, Johns said. The first 100 kids, 12 and under, can paint and design their own lures Friday from 6 -8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon until 3 p.m.
At 2 p.m both Saturday and Sunday, the first 75 kids (12 and under) can make their own duck call and learn to use it.
And Saturday and Sunday from noon until 3 p.m. there will be a casting event where kids can learn how to cast and "hook some goodies," said Johns.
And if that's not enough to draw sports lovers to this first-ever Gander Mountain first anniversary celebration, the first 1,000 customers through the door Friday through Sunday will get a free scratch off card.
"Every card is a winner with prices," Johns said. The gift cards are valued up to $100 and or coupons for up to 50 percent off shirts, hats and sunglasses.
"People can register to win a $500 gift card, and don't have to be present to win," added Johns.
The store boasts 52,000 square feet of outdoor gear. Customers can find men and women's apparel, footwear, camping, fishing, boating, archery and hunting items for sale.
John's said the store has performed "extremely well," over their first year and Mt. Juliet was chosen for the location because "it's a growing area and has such great potential.
"This is a huge event," Johns said. "We are so thankful the company has invested in our store and the community to do this."
For a complete list of times and events go to gandermountain.com search for the MJ location.
Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at email@example.com.