From sewing costumes for all the Dolly Parton dinner theaters, Rutherford woman now sewing face masks in Tennessee
On an ordinary day in Sevier County, Tennessee you would find Rutherford County native Vickie Boone Townzen hard at work sewing and creating new costumes for the Dolly Parton's dinner theaters.
Since it's not normal times in the country and world, Vickie is now at her home sewing face masks in wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"After the shows were closed until May, and we were laid off," Vickie began. "I saw on Facebook where masks were being made in Illinois, because of the shortage. I found several different patterns and chose the ones recommended by health officials. I posted that I was making them and was overwhelmed with people wanting them. I have made and delivered around 100 and plan to keep making them until I go back to work or until they aren't needed anymore," she said.
After graduation from R-S Central High School, Vickie began working for the Tanner Companies in Rutherfordton. She later worked for Oh! Suzanna, a ladies apparel sewing company in Spindale.
"I decided to take a break from sewing and went to work in the school system. I worked there for five years," she said.
Vickie has spent a lot of weekends in Pigeon Forge since 1986, vacationing with friends and family. She and her family had season passes to Dollywood and traveled to Tennessee as often as they could.
Vickie said she always knew she wanted to live in Pigeon Forge area. After her marriage to Larry Townzen, they moved to Tennessee.
"I always knew I would love to live here so after I remarried and my sons were grown, Larry and I decided to relocate here,"she said. Her sons are Dustin Maxwell and Jordan Boone. She has two stepchildren, Morgan Smith and Cathy Smith.
Larry was working at Lowes in Forest City when they decided to move and he transferred to the Lowes in Sevierville. He is now a manager at a Speedway store in Sevierville.
Vickie worked in childcare and was a Hospitality Specialist at a resort in Pigeon Forge and then decided she didn't want a full-time job. She took a part-time seamstress job in the wardrobe department at The Dixie Stampede.
"The primary seamstress left six months after I started so I became the full-time employee. I made the belle dresses and saloon dresses and did repairs and alterations to the cast's costumes. The costumes at that time were made by an outside contracted company," Vickie explained.
Two years ago the seamstress at Pirates Voyage in Tennessee and Vickie were moved to a costume shop that was made just for them. They began making all the cast costumes for The Stampede in Missouri and Tennessee, and Pirate's Voyage in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and also in Tennessee.
"I love making them. I don't really have a favorite, I love them all," Vickie said. The Roman Riding and the trick riding costumes are probably the most involved."
Vickie is quick to say that meeting Dolly Parton has been one of her favorite things.
"She is amazing and is as down to earth as she appears to be. She does so much for this county that it's unreal. She has definitely not forgotten where she came from" Vickie said.
But after the shows had to close due to the COVID-19, and Vickie was laid off she began sewing the face masks.
She will continue making the face masks as long as they are needed and then she'll go back to sewing costumes for the dinner theaters tourists enjoy across the country.
"I love living here, the thing I do miss in Rutherford County is my family and friends. However, my being here gives them a place to visit."