KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Usher in autumn with the 46th annual Fall Folk Arts Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 and noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Exchange Place Living History Farm.
Admission is $3, with those under the age of 12 admitted free. Proceeds benefit the continued restoration and preservation of the historic site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Artists from throughout the region gather to demonstrate and sell a wide array of traditional folk arts as well as hand-crafted arts of today. Guilds such as Overmountain Weaver Guild, First Frontier Quilters and Renaissance Woodcarvers, as well as chair caners and other individual artists, pass along the knowledge and skills of yesteryear to the next generation. Many items will be for sale, including cuckoo clocks, leather fly swatters, hand-carved caricatures, dough bowls, white oak piggins, hooked rugs, soap, and one of a kind jewelry. The Harvest Market areas offer fall produce as well as plants, cut flowers and seasonal crafts, along with a wide range of baked goods and goat milk cheeses.
A highlight of this year’s festival is the appearance of Appalachian Foodways expert and award-winning cookbook author Sheri Castle, who will be giving talks (on different food topics) 1-3:30 p.m. Sept. 24. Castle has published numerous books on food; The New Southern Garden Cookbook was selected as the 2012 Cookbook of the Year by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association. A former senior food editor for Southern Living magazine, she serves as the keynote speaker for Exchange Place’s first-ever Sassafras Supper, a creative farm-to-table supper that will be held on Friday, Sept. 22. She’s available at select times during the Festival (still to be determined) to chat with fans and sign copies of her books (several of which will be available in the Museum Store).
Sorghum making is among the other new happenings at this year’s festival. Sorghum cane planted earlier this year will be cut, stripped and washed in preparation for the time-consuming task of making sorghum syrup. A mill has been constructed for squeezing the juice from the cane, and at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, the mill will be mule-powered just as in pre-Civil War days. Saturday afternoon features the cooking of the sorghum, and on Sunday there is a demonstration of the stripping, cutting and milling of the cane, with the mill being turned by Kerry bulls. (Please note that the sorghum is not be available for sale.)
In another first-time feature, Juanetta Swatzell of Greenville is under the Visitor’s Tent 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday at and 2 p.m. on Sunday, sharing stories of quilts collected over the years, in an old-fashioned "Quilt Turning.”
In addition, the new Burow Museum is officially open for its first festival. Commissioned three months ago, the museum, named for long-time volunteers Suzanne and Richard Burow, helps to tell the story of Exchange Place and the life of settlers prior to the Civil War. Originally the 1790s home of Revolutionary War veteran Ambrose Gaines, the building was given to Exchange Place by the Bancroft Gospel Ministries and recently restored.
Demonstrations and hands-on activities make history come alive throughout the farm. Boy Scout Troop #255 continue the tradition of grinding apples into cider as the group has been doing at the festival for more than 30 years, while other volunteers will welcome strong-armed stirrers around the kettle to help make apple butter. In the log kitchen, the Eden’s Ridge Hearth Cookery Society and energetic Junior Apprentices prepare some of the foods the Preston family would have eaten in the mid-19th century. The blacksmith’s shop is open, demonstrating the various tasks that made the “smithy” such a valuable crafts person in antebellum America.
Children's activities abound as young folks are encouraged to create games as well as do the "chores," just as a child might have done in 1850. Children of all ages can enjoy meeting the animals who live on the farm, including the horses, cow, sheep, guinea hogs and Jenny, the donkey.
Food is available for purchase including kettle corn, funnel cakes, fried pies, lunch items and more. As always during festivals, the grounds are alive with music. Old and new favorites are playing throughout the weekend:
Music Schedule for Saturday, Sept. 23
10-11 a.m. KINGSPORT COMMUNITY BAND
11 a.m. to noon CHARLOTTE AND ART ELLIS
Noon-1 p.m. THE HONEYCUTTS
1-2 p.m. ABINGDON THUMB STRUMMERS
2-3 p.m. RENAISSANCE STRINGS
3-4 p.m. A MINOR MINSTREL
4-5 p.m. STATE STREET STRING BAND
Music and Discussion Schedule for Sunday, Sept. 24
1-1:30 p.m. SHERI CASTLE
1:30-2:30 p.m. NINA KETRON PLUS TWO
2:30-3:30 p.m. TENNESSEE BORDER
3:30-4 p.m. SHERI CASTLE
4-5 p.m. BUDDY DELP AND JENNA RILEY
The popular Scarecrow Challenge returns, encouraging individuals, groups and families to be creative as they continue the tradition of making a scarecrow. To be judged scarecrows must be on site by 11 a.m. Saturday.
For more information, visit http://exchangeplace.info.
About Exchange Place
Exchange Place is a living history farm whose mission is to preserve and interpret the heritage of mid-nineteenth century farm life in Northeast Tennessee. Exchange Place is a non-profit organization maintained and operated entirely by volunteers and is supported by donations, fundraisers, memberships and grants.
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