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Farm Fest gives a glimpse of summer fun 1850s style

Kristen Buckles • Jul 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — With fresh corn, juicy watermelon, cookies and lemonade, Sunday’s Hamlett-Dobson Farm Fest had all the fixings for summer 1850s style.

Children ran sack races, made dolls out of cloth, learned string tricks, petted farm animals and more. There was even something to make the parents smile –– no cost.

“I think it’s a good place to bring the children and it’s free,” Rebecca Combs said as her wide-eyed toddler leaned out of the stroller in an effort to get closer to a nearby horse.

“They seem to be doing a good job. It seems well organized,” she said.

Joy Moore, Fun Fest chair and Exchange Place volunteer of 30 years, praised the efforts of everyone involved.

“All this is done by volunteers. Volunteers take care of the garden, take care of the place,” she said. “Volunteers are really the lifeblood of this place.”

“There are all these people who do their parts so it’s just a wonderful community effort to make it come together.”

Farm Fest, she explained, originally began as an arts and crafts festival but has since grown into a lot more.

“The idea is that we want people to get a taste of farm life in the 1850s. Just show what old-time summer fun was.”

New to the Hamlett-Dobson Farm Fest this year was the opportunity to paint a horse.

“We do this because it’s a fun way for the kids to interact with the animal,” Linda Jones, volunteer leader with Silver Spurs 4-H Horse Club, said. “There is something about putting paint on their hands and putting it on the horse that overcomes their fear.”

Some of the most popular events were the hay rides, cucumber boats and cakewalks. Younger children seemed to enjoy washing clothes in tin tubs and climbing, jumping and crawling in a pile of hay.

“It takes you back to the old times. You understand what it was like,” said Tina Hart, who was there with her family.

Allie Parsons, one of the children with Hart, had just completed writing her name with a quill.

“It’s pretty cool, but hard,” she said. She said that she definitely did not want to try to write that way at school.

In fact, the consensus among the children seemed to be that this “no batteries fun,” as Fun Fest Director Lucy Fleming called it, would be too much to handle on a daily basis. It would just be too hard, 13-year-old Clayton Walker said.

“They (didn’t) have the technology that we do today and had to make things,” he explained.

A group of kids at the sack races agreed.

“It’s like being at a farm back in the old days,” Dalton Noffsinger said. “It makes you appreciate today’s world.”

However, it did have its benefits, he said. He was convinced that the old-fashioned corn brought out the flavor.

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