Fall Festival at Exchange Place celebrates 50th anniversary

Published 11:22 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

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Autumn is generally the most picturesque of seasons, but this year the color gold will be predominant at Exchange Place, as Kingsport’s Living History Farm holds its 50th Fall Folk Arts Festival Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 25, from noon to 5 p.m. 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 items. 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, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Completely unique this year will be a Silent Auction featuring one or more baskets made especially by master weaver Joy Smith, with a base painted by Ron Russum, to commemorate this special golden milestone. And back by popular demand, Jennifer Hanlon will be offering a needle felting beginners class on Sunday, from noon until approximately 3 p.m., with an emphasis on — what else? — a pumpkin.
The Overmountain Weavers Guild will demonstrate weaving and spinning at several locations, and selling some of their handwoven and handspun items.  As an added treat, the Burow Museum will be open, with a unique exhibit in the South Room. There, you will find samples and variations woven by members from the 72 drafts which came in a box with the very first loom bought for Exchange Place. They will also be weaving one of Suzanne Burow’s favorite drafts in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Overmountain Weavers Guild.
In addition to the weavers, the historic farmstead will be filled with a great range of craftspeople, including woodworkers, potters and leather workers, plus experts in soap-making, photography, hand-crafted greeting cards, chair caning, and hand-paintings on slate.  Boy Scouts will continue the rope tradition began by Allen Calcote about 20 years ago. Artists and other vendors that have been at the Fall Festivals for the many years will be featured guests.
The Eden’s Ridge Hearth Cookery Society will be cooking at the Cook’s Cabin, making sweet potato biscuits and hoecakes to go along with fresh sorghum, as well as a few other dishes featuring the fall harvest. In addition, the Junior Apprentices will be active throughout the farmstead, displaying the variety of chores and activities typical of 19th-century farm life, such as splitting wood, tending to the garden and the animals, working in the blacksmith forge, and playing games. They will also be demonstrating gourd crafting outside of the Cook’s Cabin.
About that sorghum, the cane, planted earlier this year, will be harvested in a special area located behind the blacksmith’s shop. This very time-consuming task, which can be observed on Saturday, Sept. 24, will include a hard-working mule named Maggie, making her very first appearance at Exchange Place. 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.
Children’s Chores, Crafts and Play will be scattered around the farmstead, allowing the young (along with those youthful in mind and spirit!) a chance to experience what it was like to be a child in the 19th Century.
And the official countdown to Witches Wynd traditionally begins with the Fall Folk Arts Festival. Exchange Place’s unique storytelling adventure will be offered live again this year (after two years as an online-only experience), and tickets will be going on sale during the Festival. The dates for Witches Wynd are Friday, Oct. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 22, and tickets must be purchased in advance. Historically, this unique blend of macabre tales and ballads sells out quickly since only a limited number of spaces are available. Tickets are $20 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-19th 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.

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