Boone Heritage Festival returns Oct. 13
Boone Heritage Festival? There’s not an app for that.
Organizers of the annual celebration of local history and heritage aren’t expecting folks to swap their iPhones for flintlocks. Instead, they’re encouraging them to momentarily step away from the future to embrace their past.
In Try 2011, Hickory Ridge Homestead Living History Museum revived its 30-year history with a bazaar – the inaugural Boone Heritage Festival.
The museum’s eight cabins corral 18th century life, but during the festival, that past life is open for visitor participation, from building scarecrows to making apple butter over a fire.
“We’ve become so used to being fed our entertainment,” said Mark Freed, one of the festival’s many volunteer organizers. “There’s something really nice about being a part of it.”
The Boone Heritage Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, coinciding with the weekly Watauga Farmers’ Market. The festival takes place at Hickory Ridge Homestead Living History Museum, located at 591 Horn in the West Drive in Boone.
Last year, the festival saw just less than 1,300 people, and coordinator Michelle Ligon expects, at least, 1,700 this year.
Early in the festivities, the centennial anniversary of the Daniel Boone Cabin monument will be held at Rivers Park on Rivers Street at 10:30 a.m. Randell Jones, author of just-published book, “Trailing Daniel Boone,” will attend, as well as Daughters of the American Revolution and their state regent, Peggy Troxell, and Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson.
Festival organizers hope that folks will explore the action of entertainment instead of settling for amusement.
“No matter what traditional activity you want to learn, you can find it here (in this area),” he said. “You can go to the Jones House for old-time jam sessions, you can learn how to square dance, how to cook, how to work with leather. But at the festival, you can find all those things in one place.”
Throughout the day, locals and museum volunteers will be hosting demonstrations that replicate typical work and play in the 1700s: Blacksmithing, candle-dipping, candlewick needlework, cornhusk doll-making, flintknapping, flintlock rifle firing, hearthside cooking, apple butter cooking, leatherwork, spinning and carding, tatting and tomahawk throwing.
Through hands-on activities, visitors can try that work and play themselves. A small fee of $3 to $6 is requested for each activity to cover the costs of materials and benefit the museum. Such activities include carving jack-o-lanterns, participating in an archaeological dig, and making “tin-punch” lanterns, ragdolls, cornhusk dolls and scarecrows
Old-time music and traditional story telling will be presented at the Cabin Stage.
“The people that we have playing are really rooted in the real local traditions,” Freed said. “Lots of them are N.C. Heritage Award winners; lots are in the N.C. Arts Council and the N.C. Folklore Society. They’re tradition bearers.”
Since organizers are fitting as many demonstrations as possible into one day of celebration, some will be held concurrently in different areas of the museum. The tentative schedule is as follows:
9 a.m. – Mary Greene will perform kids’ folk songs
10 a.m. – Robert Dotson, now in his 80s, has farmed, sung and danced for most of his life, said Freed. “Supposedly, he used to throw some pretty legendary music parties around here.” He will be joined by Gordy Hinners, John Turner, and the Green Grass cloggers for music and flatfoot dancing.
11 a.m. – A Beech Mountain celebration will feature Rick Ward, who plays a mountain fretless banjo and unaccompanied ballad singing, Lonnie Ward and Charlie Glenn. Charlotte Ross, who “probably knows more stories than any person I know,” Freed said, will tell stories.
Noon – Orville Hicks, Glenn Bolick, Charlotte Ross and Robert Dotson will tell stories.
1 p.m. – Elkville String Band, an old-time string band, will perform. Also, Orville Hicks, the nephew of legendary Ray Hicks will tell Jack tales and other stories. “He helped put Beech Mountain and Watauga County on the map for people interested in arts of different kinds,” Freed said.
2 p.m. – Kay and Patrick Crouch, an old-time duet, will perform. On another stage, Glenn Bolick, who won the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award, will recite tales.
3 p.m. – The Sheets Family, a family old-time band, will perform.
Jam sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to noon by Brandon Holder and Adam Jarrell; from noon to 2 p.m. by Cecil Gurganus and JAM kids; from 2 to 4 p.m. by Steve Kruger with flatfoot dancer Tori Cox. Freed asks for visitors to bring their own instruments, though a couple of banjos, guitars, and dulcimers will be on site.
The Liar’s Bench is a place “where you can hear casually and informally the way stories were really passed down,” Freed said.
The Trade Blanket raffle sells tickets for $5 each or 5 for $20. Gift certificates, hand-knitted hats, a large print, and jewelry will be among the items raffled.
Several local organizations will have information and demonstration booths at the festival.
Vendors will sell baked goods, books, jewelry, woodworking, handmade soaps, kettle corn, fresh-pressed apple cider, leather-working, and hand-knitted Alpaca wool items.
“Come out and get a taste of fresh cider and the smell of harvest and autumn,” Freed said.
The event is sponsored by Boone Tourism Developmental Authority.
For more information, visit http://www.hickoryridgemuseum.com and http://www.booneheritagefestival.com.