Thousands of small lanterns, carried on wings of fireflies, surrounded us that moonless night. We sat on our horses speechless, spellbound – as these beautiful illuminations played like dreams on a tapestry of life. This was the birth of Firefly Acres – a vision that began years earlier.

With our decision to become wed 26 years ago, came our vow to always work together and support each other’s dreams. My wife, Bambi, learned to ride during our courtship. She traded a great “city slicker” profession in food service to give escorted trail rides, and was an intricate part of a successful riding stable. I had never “flipped” eggs on a grill until we followed Bambi’s dream of having a coffee shop with homemade flavors (breakfast, lunch) that grew like a “wild fire.”  We owned a horse drawn carriage service that took us to parades, wedding, anniversaries, birthday parties and introduced us to wonderful people in various places. Bambi helped me train horses, give lessons and encouraged me to conduct training clinics. All of these exciting, sometimes challenging, ventures became the “building blocks” of what Firefly Acres is today – a melting pot of dreams, talents and wonderful memories.

Firefly Acres, established in 2006, is secreted at the base of the Cumberland Plateau in middle Tennessee. What began with 45 acres became lush grazing pastures, wooded trails, a beautiful pavilion (stack stone fireplace, commercial kitchen for catering, seating for a hundred people) and an outdoor arena for training /clinics. Quickly, it became evident that with the popularity of destination weddings, horse clinics/lessons and being surrounded by Tennessee’s greatest jewels (five premier state parks, the “Music Underground” Caverns and numerous regional festivals) that we needed lodging for guests. The cottages were Bambi’s idea – I thought she was crazy, but I was wrong. These uniquely decorated cabins (perched in the woods, overlooking pastures and a sprawling valley) became one of the best Firefly decisions we could have made. The “Toolshed,” ,“Doghouse,” “Bunkhouse,” “Gameroom” and “Fishcamp” are a catalyst for tourism, weddings and horse clinics. Of course, Bambi being a fantastic cook brings a lot of return “friends” to our dinner table! What a wonderful “ride” we are on!

Now, in the evenings as we now gaze upon thousands of fireflies floating on a backdrop of wooded slopes, I realize how fortunate you and I are. Each one of those spots that twinkle in the night, are like opportunities God gives each of us to discover our dreams and a person to share them with – in the tapestry of life.

Pete Dillingham