Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timers Day celebrates mountain culture

It was definitely a Sweet 16 for the Townsend Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timers Day on Sept. 26-27 at the Townsend Visitors Center. Visitors of all ages could step back in time, tap their toes to good ole bluegrass pickin’ and enjoy the arts, crafts, food and storytelling from days gone by.

The weather cooperated with a nice day on Friday and a beautiful day on Saturday with the rain kept at bay until after 5 p.m. Appalachian traditions filled the tents and stages, with storytelling and tall tales on one side of the Visitors Center, bluegrass bands on the other side and a porch filled with pickers and strummers in-between.

With the majestic Smoky Mountains as the backdrop, the crowds wandered happily through the fields filled with craft booths that offered everything from hand carved walking sticks to seasonal crafts to fine woodworking. At times the hottest booth -- both for the cooker and the long line -- was for Kettle Corn, although treats such as grilled burgers being sold as a fund raiser for the Mary Tippette Library and bloomin’ onions were also attracting attention.

Inside the Visitors Center, Appalachian artisans demonstrated rug hooking, quilting, weaving and woodworking. Tall tales and traditional mountain stories entertained the children in the Storytelling tent as potters let the children get their hands dirty making small clay pots. New this year was the “Meet the Llamas” program, where llamas from the Liles Acres Organic Farm, were on hand for petting while weavers showed how to spin their wool into yarn.

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