Back in 1995, fresh out of college, Shannon Skidmore and his fiancée, Shannan, leased a small 20'x20' building, an old Chevrolet van, and 50 tubes, and took over Smoky Mountain River Rat from its previous owner. Over the next five years, the “Shannons” gradually made the business their own by buying their own property, with Shannon using his contractor license and expertise to erect a new, larger building in just six weeks. Smoky Mountain River Rat has expanded to 500 tubes, two vans, and 20 kayaks, and the business now also offers whitewater rafting on the nearby Pigeon River. Meanwhile, its shuttles transport families up and down the Little River for unlimited daily rides, with customers as young as 2 years old floating down 1.5 miles of tubing-friendly, meandering waters as they trade off verses of old sea chanteys.
Nestled at the base of verdant foothills, Mountain Meadow Equestrian Center welcomes four-legged friends into a lush horse hotel and beginner, intermediate, and advanced students into an indoor arena and outdoor fields with mountain views. Designed for equine-enamored students aged 5 and older, beginners' classes emphasize handling the horse from the ground along with safety, grooming, and basic riding. Beginning students ride the same horse selected from a stock of experienced lesson horses and ponies each week to develop a trusting relationship and bond by trying on each other's shoes. Intermediate classes focus on trail riding over rough terrain, jumping, or dressage, or advanced classes delve into specialty riding skills that might include hunt-seat, jumper, or cross-country riding. The stables will provide necessary riding helmets and boots.
Tell us about your business.
Friendly Farm is a goat dairy that offers family-friendly activities that help families learn about nature and where their food comes from. We love the outdoors, farming, animals and want to share that love with others.
Do you have a specific philosophy—either toward outdoor activities or nature itself—that you are hoping to share with your customers?
We believe that we should enjoy nature, learn about nature, and by doing so we will learn to take care of our world.
What's one interesting fact most people don't know about your business?
You can train chinchillas to sit on your shoulder.
What special safety precautions does your staff take?
Our staff takes great care to help people learn about nature safely. All our animals are handled daily and we know them by name and are aware of their personalities. Our staff is trained to watch for signs of frustration in our animals and remove the animal to the comfort of its stall if needed.