Spring Garden Fair returns to Exchange Place

Published 12:52 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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KINGSPORT – In a time-honored area tradition, Exchange Place Living History Farm will once again honor the arrival of spring and the planting season with its annual Spring Garden Fair. The oldest garden fair in our region will be back for its 37th year on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday, April 30, from noon until 5 p.m., at the 1850s farmstead, located at 4812 Orebank Road in Kingsport.
Admission is $5 for ages 12 and older, with no charge for anyone under the age of 12.
Eagerly anticipated by area gardeners – from beginners to experts – the Fair will feature thousands of plants for sale, from old favorites to rare and hard-to-find varieties. Growers will offer perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs, with an emphasis on herbs, natives and heirloom plants. Gardening experts will be available throughout the weekend to share their knowledge about plant selection and care, and folk and yard artisans will also be found throughout the grounds with unique plant and garden-related arts and crafts.
Demonstrations of springtime activities on the farm, which is more than 200 years old, helps to bring the pre-Civil War years to life, and are always highlights of the Fair. The Overmountain Weavers Guild continues its long tradition of “Sheep to Shawl” with sheep being sheared and the wool carded, spun into yarn and woven into a shawl within hours. In the blacksmith shop visitors may watch iron being shaped into nails, hooks and other useful objects. The newly-renovated hearth kitchen will be filled with wonderful aromas as the Eden’s Ridge Hearth Cookery Society will be churning butter on Saturday and using the butter to make a pound cake on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in the Cook’s Cabin, they will be making hoecakes and other foods showcasing African American and rural Appalachian foodways. And they will be hosting the second annual Tennessee Dancing Gourd Spin-Off and demonstrating other chores and activities all over the farmstead. In the garden, they will be available to talk about heirloom vegetables and herbs used in the 19th century.
Sunday, Linda Doan will lead the May Pole dance, beginning at 2 p.m., with live music provided by our very own Junior Apprentices Old-Time Band. And both days of the festival will feature Frank Ireson of Viking Leathercrafts demonstrating how shoes were made in the antebellum years, using an authentic, old-time Cobbler’s Bench, donated to Exchange Place by Betty Moore.
As always, there will be an abundance of activities for children, with a focus this year on flowers and pollination. And children of all ages will enjoy meeting the heritage animals, including brand-new baby lambs. The larger critters – resident cow, donkey and horse – can be seen in the 1851 barn, while numerous sheep will be in a variety of locations, with the chickens and roosters in their enclosed area behind the heritage garden.
Music fills the air for much of the Spring Garden Fair. A wide assortment of local and regional talent is scheduled to perform throughout the weekend; a complete schedule is listed below. And don’t worry, if you get hungry or thirsty, food, drinks and snacks will be available.

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