Boone Heritage Festival Oct. 8
Saturday’s inaugural Boone Heritage Festival promises a little bit of everything.
After all, “that’s what makes us unique,” Southern Appalachian Historical Association spokeswoman Virginia Roseman said. “It’s what makes us a one-of-a-kind place altogether.”
And it’s what makes Appalachian tradition so enduring. “We take our heritage and adapt it into today’s times, but we never let go of it,” Roseman said.
It’s evident in the festival’s lineup, featuring storytelling, traditional music, 18th-century demonstrations, hands-on activities, vendors aplenty and more.
“This should be an environment where young, old, no matter what age, there’s something here for you,” she said.
The festival has found an ideal venue with Hickory Ridge Homestead Living History Museum, located on the grounds of the “Horn in the West” outdoor drama in Boone, and curator Dave Davis couldn’t be happier.
“It’s going to be a festival much like the old traditional family gatherings,” he said. “The museum will be set up with people doing traditional crafts, music, storytelling and demonstrations.”
Many of these demonstrations are interactive, such as blacksmithing and candle-dipping, allowing visitors to try their hand at centuries’ old crafts. Other hands-on activities include basketry, cornhusk crafts and ragdoll making, giving visitors the chance to take a piece of history home. Craft activities cost a modest fee, all of which will be donated to Hickory Ridge Homestead.
Historical demonstrations include candlewick needlework, flint-knapping, flintlock rifles, hearthside cooking, leatherwork, spinning and carding, tatting and tomahawk throwing.
Storytelling and music come courtesy of Lisa Baldwin, Glenn Bolick, Elkville String Band, Mary Greene, Charlie Glenn, Orville Hicks, Mike Lowe, the Sheets Family, Lonnie Ward and Rick Ward, with a square dance at 3:30 p.m., with Cecil Gurganus and band and caller Warren Doyle.
“It’s going to be an eclectic mix,” Roseman said. “Everyone has a different take. Some are more gospel oriented, some are more folksy, and then there’s the singing of the ballads. It’s a little bit of everything, and I’m really looking forward to all of this different music being in one spot.”
But the music’s not just for listening.
“We’ll be having a jam session,” Roseman said. “Anyone that’s musically inclined is more than welcome to bring their banjos, mandolin, fiddles and jump right in. And there might be someone there who can teach you some techniques.”
For a $5 donation to Hickory Ridge Homestead, visitors can take a music lesson from some of the experts.
Cash won’t only come in handy for the crafts, but also for more than 30 vendors slated to participate, from funnel cakes and fresh-pressed apple cider to hand-knitted alpaca wool items and handmade soaps. And then there’s Davis’s homemade apple butter.
“I worked out a pretty good recipe that most everybody likes,” he said.
It’s the taste of tradition, which runs deep in Davis’s family. His great-uncle, William Bryan, was the first mayor of Boone, but the family roots run even deeper. Davis also said he is the sixth great-nephew of Rebecca Bryan, Daniel Boone’s wife.
“I believe everybody should know more about their past,” he said. “Like me, they’d probably be surprised to find out who they’re related to and what their ancestors had to give up to survive.”
Since Hickory Ridge Homestead is open for tours that day, visitors can see firsthand how settlers lived and survived on the frontier.
The Boone Heritage Festival is a learning experience on multiple levels, even for Davis and Roseman. They’ll learn Saturday if the public will support a subsequent event the following year.
“Boone has always wanted a signature festival,” Davis said, mentioning prior events like the Kraut Creek Festival and Daniel Boone Days. “The town (of Boone) gave it back to the museum, and we’ve been working on it since the first of June. I think it’s going to be a festival that’s different than what most people are accustomed to. It’s not commercialized, but more traditional, geared more for people to participate.”
The fun runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, coinciding with the weekly Watauga Farmers’ Market. The festival takes place at Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, located at 591 Horn in the West Drive in Boone.
For more information, including details on a trade blanket raffle, visit booneheritage.blogspot.com or call (828) 264-2120.