Fall Folk Arts Festival at Exchange Place
A hint of autumn in the air must mean it is time for the annual Fall Folk Arts Festival at Exchange Place! This celebration of pioneer arts and crafts, and the harvest season, will feature artisans demonstrating and selling a wide variety of traditional folk arts, along with autumn plants, produce and unique seasonal. This year, the eagerly-anticipated event will be held on Saturday, September 28, from 10 am until 5 pm, and Sunday, September 29, from noon until 5 pm. Admission is $5 for ages 12 and over, with those under the age of 12 admitted free. As always, proceeds go towards the care of the farm’s animals, and the continuing restoration and preservation of the site, located at 4812 Orebank Road in Kingsport, Tennessee and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For the 48th consecutive year, the historic valley farmstead will be bustling with activity as artists from the region will gather to demonstrate and pass along the skills of yesteryear to the next generation. Experts in woodworking, soap-making, hand-painting on slate, paper quilling and hand-crafted greeting cards will be on hand, along with those people continuing the centuries-long tradition of guilds, which are associations that represent a particular trade or craft. The Overmountain Weavers’ Guild, who are experts in spinning and weaving, will be out in force at several farmstead locations, including the Burow Museum and the (upstairs) girls’ room of the Preston House. The First Frontier Quilters of Kingsport, and the Senior Artisans (representing a wide variety of crafters), are two other guilds whose members are specialists in crafts that date back to a time when ‘most everything was made right on the farm or in the home.
A new tradition at the Festival is the cooking of sorghum. Sorghum cane that was planted earlier this year will be harvested in a special area located behind the blacksmith’s shop. This very time-consuming task, which you can witness on Saturday, September 28, consists of squeezing the juice from the cane, then boiling it until the water has evaporated to the point where only pure sorghum is left in the pan. With the milling and cooking completed, Sunday’s activities will consist of educational explanations about the mill, the cane, and the process of making sorghum, as well as opportunities to visit the cane patch and compare sorghum cane with sugar cane to learn about the differences up close. (Please note that what we produce is for demonstration purposes only, but we will be offering for sale some 100% pure sorghum syrup, made fresh this year by the Guenther family of Muddy Pond, TN.)
Exchange Place is, of course, a Living History Farm, so the past comes alive all around the campus. The Eden’s Ridge Hearth Cookery Society, and our energetic Junior Apprentices, will be in the log kitchen, preparing some of the foods the Preston family would have eaten in the mid nineteenth century. Just a few yards away, Camp Placid will be grinding and selling apple cider (only on Saturday, however). In the years before the invention of the automobile, horses were a necessity, which meant that people needed access to a blacksmith, and that bygone art will be demonstrated in our blacksmith shop. Old-time children’s activities will be found at several locations around the farm, which will also include the opportunity to come to our 1851 barn and meet some of the animals who live year-round at Exchange Place – Jenny, our donkey; Delilah, our cow; and Chance and Ned, our horses. Sheep, chickens, pigs and even a couple of cats are also full-time residents and might be seen throughout the weekend. And in the Burow Museum, visitors will be able to see a special exhibition of quilts, all of which have been made by families who lived at (what is now) Exchange Place or the Roseland property, or by many of the farmstead’s volunteers, past and present.
The harvest season will also be evident in autumn produce, such as pumpkins, local honey (from a local beekeeper!), dried flowers, plants for fall planting, and seasonal crafts that will be offered for sale. Visitors will also find food like goat milk cheeses, stone-ground cornmeal and grits, home-made breads, coffee cake and granola to buy and take home, plus made-as-you-wait kettle corn and a variety of other yummy treats to eat on site.
A unique silent auction will be offered this year as a special event. Two antique clocks, from the collection of master clock mechanic Rod Groenewold, will be available to the highest bidder(s). One is one hundred years old – an eight-day keywind clock that dates to 1919. The other is even older – a cast-iron mantle clock made in 1890! These clocks will be on display, and can be bid on, in the Museum Store, located next to the Roseland building. That is the same place one can find tickets to the annual Witches Wynd, our family-friendly, Halloween-based storytelling adventure. Scheduled for Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26, it is one of Exchange Place’s most popular events every year, but please note that only a limited number of tickets are sold, and at a mere $10 apiece, they often disappear by the close of the Fall Festival on Sunday. We encourage people to stop by the Museum Store for both Witches Wynd tickets and Rod Groenewold’s antique clocks.
The 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. In order to be judged, scarecrows must be on site by 11 am Saturday. The harvest market will include a colorful array of corn, pumpkins, and squash. And live music by exciting local and regional artists will fill the air throughout! A complete schedule is listed below, though please note that this list is always subject to last-minute changes.
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.
MUSIC SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
10 – 11 am KINGSPORT COMMUNITY BAND
11 am – noon STRAWBERRY JAM
noon – 1 pm STATE STREET STRING BAND
1 – 2:30 pm CONDRONE, LONG AND MAHONEY
2:30 – 3 pm JUNIOR APPRENTICES OLD-TIME BAND
3 – 4 pm CHARLOTTE AND ART ELLIS
4 – 5 pm STRING BREAK
MUSIC SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
1 – 2 pm ABINGDON THUMB STRUMMERS JAM
2 – 3 pm RED AND GREY
3 – 3:30 pm JUNIOR APPRENTICES OLD-TIME BAND
4 – 5 pm SANDRA PARKER