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Rocky Mount celebrates Spirit of the Harvest

staff report • Oct 13, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Visitors to Rocky Mount on Oct. 20 can take a step back in time and experience the kinds of harvest-time activities the Cobb family and other Tennessee pioneers were busy tending to this time of year.

Rocky Mount’s annual Spirit of the Harvest celebration will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the living history farm in Piney Flats. The event will feature a number of craft classes and demonstrations, including hearth-side cooking, blacksmithing, apple butter making and apple cider pressing as well as lessons in 19th-century salt making by reenactor Jim Bordwine of Saltville, Va.

Bordwine has been demonstrating traditional salt making for 10 years.

European settlers arrived in the Saltville area around 1750 and started manufacturing salt after discovering the vast stores of salty marsh brine beneath their feet. Before refrigeration, salt was of the utmost importance for preservation of food. During the Civil War, Saltville was responsible for producing salt for all the Southern states, and in 1864 alone sold $100 million worth of salt, even with two battles fought in the valley that year. Salt is still produced in Saltville today.

Between 1 and 3 p.m., storytelling and music will fill Rocky Mount’s theater. Featured performers are MaryGrace Walrath and Trae McMaken.

Walrath is a performing member of the Jonesborough Storyteller’s Guild and Beaver Creek Storytellers of Bristol. She also belongs to the Tennessee Storytelling Association and the National Storytelling Network.

Storyteller and fiddler McMaken is an adjunct professor in the prestigious Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music program at East Tennessee State University. McMaken’s performance, which will focus on the story of the Overmountain Men and their victory at Kings Mountain, is funded by the National Park Service.

Admission to Spirit of the Harvest is $5 per person for ages 5 and up, and free for members of the Rocky Mount Historical Association. Craft classes in candle dipping and making cornshuck dolls will be offered for an additional $2 per craft.

Rocky Mount is a State of Tennessee Historic Site administered cooperatively with the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Rocky Mount Historical Association that uses first-person interpretation to portray people living in 1791. It is open for tours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Living history tours and the facility are also available by reservation at any time, including Sundays and Mondays, for school and other groups with advance notice.

For more information, call (423) 538-7396 or visit www.rockymountmuseum.com.

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