Living history is a form of time travel, an experiential way to understand how our ancestors lived their lives. Like ambassadors from another world, living history re-enactors offer a glimpse of the past in real time.
This fall, living history events across the Southeast will celebrate the American past, offering families the opportunity to step back in time and imagine life in earlier days. Here are six living history events not to be missed:
1. Mountaineer Folk Festival
Fall Creek Falls State Park / Pikeville, Tenn.
Sept. 7-9, 2012
The 34th annual Mountaineer Folk Festival at Fall Creek Falls State Park offers a weekend of traditional music, country cooking, pioneer skills demonstrations, storytelling and more than 100 craft booths within the beautiful setting of one of Tennessee’s celebrated state parks. Pioneer demonstrations will include sorghum making, sheepherding, blacksmithing, spinning and soapmaking. Wagon and pony rides will be conducted both days, and a Civil War encampment will feature demonstrations of cannon firing and drills.
Fall Creek Falls State Park encompasses more than 20,000 acres across the eastern top of the Cumberland Plateau in Pikeville, Tenn. The park includes more than 34 miles of hiking trails, offering visitors either short or long walks around the lake and to and from the base of Fall Creek Falls, the highest waterfall in the eastern United States. Amenities within the park include a hotel, 30 cabins and villas, 228 campsites, two group camps and an 18-hole golf course.
For more information, visit http://www.fallcreekfalls.org/activities.html.
2. Fort Loudoun’s 18th-Century Trade Faire
Fort Loudoun State Historic Area / Vonore, Tenn.
Sept. 8-9, 2012 / 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Step back in time to the 1700s when the British Colony of South Carolina built Fort Loudoun in East Tennessee and forged relations with the Cherokee Nation at Fort Loudoun’s 18th-Century Trade Faire. Hundreds of re-enactors will demonstrate various activities of the time period, and merchants and artisans will peddle authentic wares in an authentic market. Artillery and musket drill demonstrations will take place each day, as well as re-enacted skirmishes and battles. Performances will include Steven Caudill as Daniel Boone and Robert Rambo as Attakullakulla, a powerful Cherokee chief in the 18th century. Food appropriate to the century will be sold on-site, including red beans and rice, beef and cabbage, gumbo, smoked turkey legs, shortbread and scones.
Fort Loudoun State Historic Area is a 1,200-acre site on the location of one of the earliest British fortifications on the western frontier, built in 1756. Nearby were the principal towns of the Cherokee Nation, including the namesake of our state (Tenase) and the birthplace of Sequoyah (Tuskegee).
For more information, visit http://fortloudoun.com/special-events/18th-century-trade-faire/trade-faire-forms.
3. Foxfire Mountaineer Festival
Rabun County Civic Center / Clayton, Ga.
Oct. 6, 2012 / 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Foxfire Mountaineer Festival celebrates the heritage of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, featuring practitioners of traditional skills and crafts, music and the mountain folk who shared their ways of the past with numerous high school students who have worked to preserve the region’s heritage in the pages of Foxfire Magazine since 1966. The event features traditional music from regional performers, demonstrations of time-honored handicrafts and trades, and mountain-style games and challenges for both young and old, including pole climbing, log sawing, archery, greased-pig chases and simple schoolyard games, such as three-legged races and sack races.
The Foxfire Mountaineer Festival is coordinated through the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center in Rabun County, Ga., which features homes, tools, trades, crafts and a look at the lifestyle of the pioneer culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
For more information, visit http://www.foxfiremountaineer.org.
4. Museum of Appalachia’s Tennessee Fall Homecoming
Museum of Appalachia / Clinton, Tenn.
Oct. 12-14, 2012 / 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The 33rd annual Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia is one of the nation’s largest and most authentic old-time mountain craft and music festivals. In addition to exploring the museum’s extensive village/farm complex, visitors can enjoy authentic Southern Appalachian bluegrass, gospel, folk and old-time country music on five stages. Dozens of local cooks will serve country food, some of it prepared on wood-burning stoves and in iron kettles. More than 175 artisans will demonstrate old-time mountain skills, including quilting, basket weaving, rail splitting, spinning and weaving, whittling, chair caning, lye soapmaking and construction of old-time musical instruments. Thousands of handcrafted items will be available for purchase during the celebration.
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Appalachia offers an authentic experience of what rural life was like on a pioneer Appalachian farm. Founded in 1969 by John Rice Irwin, a descendant of the region’s early settlers, the museum features 30 original and historic log structures, which were all acquired from within a 200-mile radius of the museum, and thousands of authentic Appalachian artifacts dating from the 1700s to the 1930s.
For more information, visit http://www.museumofappalachia.org/Homecoming_Overview.html.
5. Southeastern Primitive Rendezvous
Oct. 20-21, 24, 2012 / 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The blast of a muzzleloader, the aroma of stew cooking over a campfire and folks who look like they stepped out of a history book will greet visitors at the 31st Southeastern Primitive Rendezvous in Yadkinville, N.C. Sponsored by the National Rendezvous and Living History Foundation, the rendezvous is a large encampment of living history buffs portraying pre-1840 historical characters, including French and Indian War soldiers, colonial militia, frontier long hunters, mountain men, Native Americans, tradespeople, frontier settlers and craftsmen.
The rendezvous includes historical craft and skills seminars, a market of authentic wares, a variety of games and entertainment, shooting events for old-time muzzleloaders, and children’s activities. Designed by and for history buffs and re-enactors, visitors to the rendezvous can walk through the encampment, talk to participants, and watch demonstrations of frontier skills.
For more information, visit http://www.southeasternprimitiverendezvous.com.
6. Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium
Booth Western Art Museum / Cartersville, Ga.
Oct. 25-28, 2012
The Booth Western Art Museum will bring the Old West to life in the South during its 10th annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium. The event features four days of educational events and entertainment, including a re-enactment of the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Western music and poetry, traditional Native American dance demonstrations, chuck wagon cooking, children’s activities and a living history encampment with pioneer skills demonstrations. On Sunday, a nondenominational Cowboy Church service featuring cowboy prayers and Western spirituals will take place on festival grounds. This year’s featured entertainer is Roy Rogers Jr.
The Booth Western Art Museum is a 120,000-square-foot facility featuring contemporary Western American art in the main galleries and historic Western art, Civil War art, presidential portraits and letters, Western movie posters, and Western illustrations in other galleries. The museum’s Sagebrush Ranch gallery offers interactive education about art and Western America for children.
For more information, visit http://booth.sideways8.com/cowboy-festival-and-symposium.
For additional articles by Jenni Frankenberg Veal about family-oriented outdoor adventures and conservation issues in the southeastern United States, visit http://www.nooga.com/article/search?q=Jenni+Frankenberg+Veal.