Exchange Place Living History Farm will once again usher in the autumn season with its popular Fall Folk Arts, albeit with some COVID safety protocols in place.
The harvest season celebration, which was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 26, from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5, with anyone under the age of 12 admitted free.
Thanks to the support of Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes, all proceeds from the event will go towards the care of the farm’s animals and the continued restoration and preservation of the site
All CDC protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be followed. The historic buildings will remain closed, and organizers strongly encourage visitors to wear masks and maintain safe distance from others.
Artists from around the region will gather at the Exchange Place to demonstrate 19th century crafts and sell a wide array of traditional folk arts and hand-crafted items. Plants for fall planting will also be available, as well as dried flowers, seasonal crafts, local honey, goat milk cheeses, salsas and hot sauces, stone-ground cornmeal, grits and more.
In addition, several acclaimed heritage artists will be on the grounds during the weekend. George McCollum, a long-time member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, will be making his widely-celebrated miniature white oak baskets on Saturday. Master crafter Heather Ashworth of the Arrowmont School of the Arts in Gatlinburg will be offering traditional broom-making workshops on Sunday at noon and 2:30 pm. Students will bind two whisk hand brooms, using broom corn and colorful cord. The cost of the workshop is $65 and includes all materials. Advance registration for the workshop is required by Sept. 19. Email [email protected]. A minimum of five people is required for each class.
A highlight of the festival will be an extensive display of historic clocks and watches, curated by master clock mechanic Rod Groenewold and members of the Watauga Chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Rod has been fascinated by clocks and watches for more than 40 years, and now he and the other members of the group will display and sell part of their collections of historic timepieces. The group is also inviting festival visitors to bring in clocks and watches for free appraisals. A silent auction will offer three antique clocks from Rod’s collection to the highest bidders: an 8-day, key-wind clock that dates to 1919; a cast-iron mantle clock made in 1890; and an Ansonia Clock Company “Antler” clock made around 1905. The clocks will be on display during the festival; bids can be made at the booth, with proceeds benefiting Exchange Place.
As always, history will be on display throughout the farm.
The Eden’s Ridge Hearth Cookery Society and Exchange Place Junior Apprentices will prepare some of the foods the Preston family would have eaten in the mid-nineteenth century, using the bread oven and an outdoor fire (weather permitting). They will also be demonstrating gourd crafting in the yard of the restored Cook’s Cabin.
The blacksmith’s shop will be open, demonstrating the various tasks that made the “smithy” such a valuable person in antebellum America. Behind the blacksmith’s shop, sorghum will be milled and cooked on Saturday with mules doing the milling in the morning and the cooking process done throughout the afternoon.
The Overmountain Weavers’ Guild, the site’s resident fiber artists, will demonstrate the intricacies of spinning and weaving on the Roseland porch and in the Burow Museum. Boy Scout Troop 387 will be on hand to demonstrate rope-making. The ropes they create will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going to Exchange Place.
Visitors will have an opportunity to play the kinds of games the Preston family would have played, and to try their hands at some of the “chores” expected of young people on an antebellum farm, such as creating toys and grinding corn. Visitors can also meet and greet all of the heritage breed of animals that live on the farmstead all year long. There’ll also be live music from regional musicians both days.
One casualty of the pandemic this year is the traditional Fall Scarecrow Challenge, which will not be held. However, there will be an area set aside where visitors can add to the creation of the Exchange Place scarecrows and learn their long and interesting history. Traditionally, the festival also serves as the kickoff for ticket sales to Witches Wynd, the Exchange Place’s popular Halloween-based storytelling adventure. However, officials have yet to determine how (or if) they’ll hold the event this year.
Exchange Place, located at 4812 Orebank Road in Kingsport, is a living history farm listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its mission is to preserve and interpret the heritage of mid-nineteenth century farm life in Northeast Tennessee. Exchange Place is a nonprofit organization maintained and operated by volunteers, and supported by donations, fundraisers, memberships and grants.