KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The annual Spring Garden Fair takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 29 and noon to 5 p.m. April 30 at Exchange Place Living History Farm.
A true celebration of heritage farming and heirloom gardening, the Spring Garden Fair is a favorite for area gardeners from novice to expert, with offerings that include rare and hard-to-find plants as well as tried-and-true favorites.
Thousands of plants are for sale – perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs – with the emphasis on herbs, native and heirloom plants including a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes. Folk and yard artisans sell their wares as well. This year, the UT Extension Master Gardener Class sponsors the Back-Porch Garden Sale inside the Roseland building, where guests can find all kinds of new and used garden items for sale including pots, hypertufa containers, plants, gardening magazines, books and much more. The Master Gardeners are on-hand at their plant clinic/information table to answer questions.
Throughout the weekend, craftspeople and volunteers demonstrate springtime activities typically found on a 19th-century farm.
The Overmountain Weavers Guild continue their long tradition of “Sheep to Shawl,” where they card (clean, separate and straighten) sheep’s wool, spin it into yarn and weave the yarn into cloth – all within hours by the Roseland side barn. The popular sheep shearing takes place 1 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The weavers plan to make a scarf on Saturday.
The Eden’s Ridge Hearth Cookery Society churns butter on Saturday, and then prepares spring tansies (puddings) and seasonal vegetables on Sunday.
Junior Apprentices are in the garden offering insights for heirloom plants. The blacksmith’s shop is active all weekend as Will Vogt from Graysburg Forge and Catherine Shook, a recent graduate of the John C. Campbell Folk School, demonstrates.
A wide variety of hands-on children’s activities are found around the farmstead, including a petting zoo with Delilah the cow, Jenny the donkey, and three horses, plus sheep and Guinea hogs.
Retired world champion Whimmy Diddler Will Hines of Greeneville is on-hand to direct the 8th Annual Edens Ridge Whimmy Diddle Competition at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Open to all ages, Hines and others offer valuable pointers and practice time prior to the contest, in which the winners receive trophies made by local woodworker Gary Albertson.
Linda Doan leads a Maypole decoration and dance.
Music fills the air during the Spring Garden Fair. A smorgasbord of local talent performs throughout the weekend, and, speaking of smorgasbord, baked goods, lunch, drinks and snacks are available.
The Spring Garden Fair strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible with recycling, composting, and re-using. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own plant carriers and to bring used nursery pots for recycling/reusing. To help gardeners reduce runoff and save water, Rain Barrel Kits are available for $40 (check or cash), as long as supplies last. The 55-gallon food-grade plastic barrels (which can easily be painted) are already fully assembled to begin collecting rainwater.
Admission is $3 for adults and is free for children under the age of 12.
Proceeds from the event assist with the restoration and upkeep of the site, which is proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
About Exchange Place
Exchange Place is a non-profit, volunteer-run living history farm, educational facility and regional attraction that seeks to preserve, protect, interpret, and manage the history, heritage, and artifacts pertaining to mid-19th century farm life in Northeast Tennessee.
For more information, call 423-288-6071 or visit www.exchangeplace.info.
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