Fall Folk Arts Festival
September 23 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm$3
Exchange Place Living History Farm ushers in autumn with its annual Fall Folk Arts Festival on Saturday, September 23, from 10 am until 5 pm, and Sunday, September 24 from noon until 5 pm. This annual celebration of traditional folk arts and the harvest season, now in its 46th consecutive year, will be held on the farmstead’s historic and picturesque grounds at 4812 Orebank Road in Kingsport, Tennessee. 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 will 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, will pass along the knowledge and skills of yesteryear to the next generation. Many unique 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 — all handcrafted out of natural materials. The Harvest Market areas will 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 will be the appearance of Appalachian foodways expert and award-winning cookbook author Sheri Castle, who will be giving talks (on different food topics) on Sunday, September 24 at 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm. Ms. Castle has published numerous books on food; her 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 will be in town to serve as the keynote speaker for Exchange Place’s first-ever Sassafras Supper, a creative farm-to-table supper that will be held on Friday, September 22. She will also be 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 will be 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 on Saturday, until around 12:30 pm, the mill will be mule-powered just as in pre-Civil War days. Saturday afternoon will feature the cooking of the sorghum, while on Sunday there will be a demonstration of the stripping, cutting and milling of the cane, with the mill being turned by Kerry bulls. (Please note that the sorghum will not be available for sale.)
Kerry bulls are a small and ancient breed associated with the Celts. There are fewer than 400 of them in the world, but Kendy Sawyer of Fries, Virginia, is planning to bring two of them to the Fall Festival. For a modest $5 donation, children can be photographed sitting on one of the bulls, with proceeds going towards the feeding of the Exchange Place animals, and to help support the Junior Apprentice program.
In another first-time feature, Juanetta Swatzell of Greenville will be under the Visitor’s Tent on Saturday at 11 am and 2 pm and on Sunday at 2 pm, sharing stories of quilts collected over the years, in an old-fashioned “Quilt Turning.” In addition, the new Burow Museum will officially be 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 will help make history come alive throughout the farm. Boy Scout Troop #255 will continue the tradition of grinding apples into cider as the group has been doing at the festival for over thirty 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 our energetic Junior Apprentices, will prepare some of the foods the Preston family would have eaten in the mid nineteenth century. The blacksmith’s shop will be 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 will enjoy meeting the animals who live on the farm, including our horses, cow, sheep, guinea hogs and Jenny, our very talkative donkey.
Ol’timey foods will be available for purchase, including kettle corn, funnel cakes, fried pies, lunch items, and more. As always during festivals, the grounds of the farmstead will be alive with music. Old and new favorites will be playing throughout the weekend; a complete schedule is listed below. (Please note, however, that it is always subject to last-minute changes.)
Sullivan County 4-H Club will again be organizing the popular Scarecrow Challenge, which encourages 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 am Saturday.
One of Exchange Place’s most popular events every year is Witches Wynd, a Halloween-based storytelling adventure, which will take place on Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, beginning each night at 8 pm. Tickets go on sale for the first time during the Fall Folk Arts Festival. Only a limited number of tickets are available and they sell out quickly, so we encourage people to purchase them at the Festival. Tickets are $8 and will be found at the Museum Store.
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.