Article Published: Aug. 30, 2012 | Modified: Sep. 9, 2012
Elk Knob State Park is a pocket of the dozen surrounding amphibolite Appalachian Mountains, its 3,200 acres speckled with rare and endangered Gray’s lily, trailing wolfsbane, large purple-fringed orchids and flame azaleas.
The town that flows below Elk Knob was christened Meat Camp after packs of settlers, including Daniel Boone, met in the area to trade dear and cattle meat. For years, Meat Camp and the surrounding Pottertown, Todd and Sutherland communities remained folksy as the past, each with its own general store, post office, school and church.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Elk Knob was under threat of summer home development. With the help of Tommy Walsh, coordinator of Appalachian State University’s Sustainable Development Community Outreach, the Nature Conservancy bought the land in 2003, and that year it was named a state park.
The first Elk Knob Headwaters Community Day was held in 2005 under organization by the communities; Patricia Beaver, director of ASU’s Center for Appalachian Studies; Larry Trivette, park superintendent;
Andy Sicard, park ranger; Walsh; and Chuck Smith of ASU Sustainable Development.
This year, Saturday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will mark the eighth annual Elk Knob Community Headwaters Day, held at Elk Knob State Park near Todd. The event is free and open to the public, featuring music, crafts, demonstrations, and a guided hike. Organizers only ask visitors to bring a covered dish to share at noon for “the world’s biggest potluck.”
The event is named Headwaters Day for the North Fork of the New River.
“A lot of families used to come up here to picnic and sing and stuff,” Walsh said. “It goes back 50 years or so, because I went to one when I was a young kid. It was an experience. It was out in a field, too, not in the woods, and folks got out to do some horseshoe pitching.”
Recalling years of celebratory reunions, the Headwaters Day has seen about 500 visitors every year.
“We’re trying to pass this heritage on down to a younger generation,” Walsh said. “Our history is in the background.”
Recollections of that history will be opened by traditional and modern music by the Dollar Brothers at 11 a.m., Maggie Idol at 11:40 a.m., Garrett Munday and Megan Sheppard at 12:10 p.m., the Mountain Laurels at 12:50 p.m., the Appalachian Rhythm Cloggers at 1:30 p.m., the Tyler Winkler Family at 2:10 p.m., the Usual Suspects at 2:50 p.m., and Tom Shirley at 3:30 p.m.
One of the rangers will guide the Summit trail hike to the panoramic lookout, and give ecological and geological demonstrations.
The festival will hold horse-drawn wagon rides and demonstrations and education on hide tanning, hand tools, beekeeping and grist milling.
Spinning and weaving will be shown, and pottery and corn shuck doll-making will invite participation.
A silent auction gives festivalgoers the opportunity to take home gifts like a half-bushel basket of canned foods, gift cards to local business, or sterling inlaid wood pendant and other jewelry.
The festival is sponsored by the non-profit Elk Knob Community Heritage Organization and donations given in past years. A donation box will again be on site.
Elk Knob State Park is located at 5564 Meat Camp Road near Todd. For more information, call the park at (828) 297-7261.