"MY SEVIERVILLE": BILL KILPATRICK
The Founder Of Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store Talks About His Tennessee Town
One of Sevierville, Tennessee’s most charming and unique attractions, Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store, is an apple-themed destination campus that boasts a general store, restaurants, and multiple production facilities with eye-popping demonstrations and mouthwatering treats.
The original barn, built in 1910, now houses a general store that stocks fresh apples (from early September to January), as well as apple cider, fried apple pies, apple butter, applewood smoked hams and bacon, and a wide range of apple- and Smoky Mountain-themed items from baking mixes to wall hangings throughout the year.
All Apple Barn products are made on site, and you can watch many treats as they’re prepared including apple doughnuts, apple dumplin’s, candied and caramel apples, ice cream and more. There’s even an Apple Barn Winery that pours free wine tastings.
The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, Sevierville’s oldest restaurant, and Applewood Farmhouse Grill both serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and specialize in hearty country favorites like fried chicken, chicken pot pie, and apple fritters with apple butter.
Founder Bill Kilpatrick planted the first apple trees in 1976 and now tends to more than 4,000 trees that grow 14 different kinds of apples!
We recently caught up with Bill for his take on the Smoky Mountain town he calls home.
What do you most enjoy about living and working in Sevierville?
- It’s a very good place to live with enjoyable weather conditions all year. The three cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville work together and complement each other. There are festivals, music shows and fun things to do all year.
What would most surprise an out-of-towner about Sevierville?
- Probably all the growth. When we first started our business it was more seasonal than it is now. With Dollywood and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park nearby, a lot of things have developed.
How many different varieties of apples do you grow?
- Right now about 14. I’ve planted some new trees over the past few years. At first we had Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Winesap, and Rome, but people starting asking for new ones including Pink Lady, Mutsu, Fuji, Gala and Jonagold.
What's the biggest seller?
- Golden Delicious. It’s a little sweeter and ripens a little earlier.
What’s your personal favorite?
- Mutsu — it’s a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo (a Japanese variety). In grocery stores it’s called Crispin, which is a new name but the apple has been around quite some time. It keeps well; it has dense tissue so doesn’t soften up like a Delicious apple.
Your Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant is Sevierville’s oldest restaurant! How is it different from Applewood Farmhouse Grill?
- The original restaurant opened in 1987. We tried to feature apples in dishes and play up the apple theme. The restaurant kept getting busier and busier and people had to wait so long to get in that they’d leave to go to other restaurants, so we opened the second one in 1994. We tried to do a lighter more a la carte menu, but people kept asking for the same things as were on the menu at the first restaurant, so through the years we’ve changed menus and they’re very similar. In both restaurants we try to feature a few different things each year. The restaurants are close: Park your car and if there’s a wait at one restaurant, walk to the other.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Sevierville?
- Get out and enjoy the hiking trails. There are lots of music shows to enjoy throughout the year, at Dollywood and elsewhere. This area has always had a reputation for car shows. We also have a lot of craft shows.
Do you have a favorite hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
- Years ago I’d have said the Chimney Tops Trail, which is easy to get to but a strenuous hike. Laurel Falls is a popular trail to a pretty waterfall and it’s an easier trail for senior citizens. The Alum Cave Trail goes all the way to Mount LeConte, but you have to be young and active to handle that.
Where would you recommend visitors take young children?
- Dollywood is No. 1. It’s great for families. In fact, a lot of families within an hour drive buy season tickets and come several times a year because Dollywood has different events throughout year including different music groups. It’s got so many rides, entertaining shows, and lots of fun things to do that the whole family can enjoy.
What in Sevierville is a "must see"?
- The Dolly Parton statue in front of the court house in downtown Sevierville. You can stop and make photographs, then see the older buildings, stop in smaller shops and museums downtown. There’s even enough parking for bus groups. Slow down, don’t drive right through: Stop and look at Sevierville!
As an apple farmer, fall and spring must be busy for you.
- Yes! Our busiest time starts mid-September and runs through December. There are lots of Christmas shows and lights in this area, so we’re much busier that time of year than we used to be.
How do you entertain yourself in winter?
- Just working and cleaning and getting ready for the next season. We’ve got painters and carpenters working right now. Then we’ll go to one of the nicer family-style restaurants for dinner, turn in early to bed, and just stay warm.