For those looking for a weekend escape just a short drive from home, this weekend is a bonanza. Townsend Days, Sept. 25-27, is a three-day celebration of Appalachian culture including four events that showcase mountain music, crafts, food and the heritage of the Smoky Mountains.
The four weekend events include:
The Nawger Nob Crafts Fair, which will feature more than 80 crafters in a two-day festival. For those that enjoy working with their hands or love arts and crafts, the Nawger Nob crafts fair will feature more than 80 crafters in a two-day festival. Everything from handmade jewelry and carvings to pottery and ironworks will be featured. The event will take place Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $1.50; Children under 12 are free. For more information contact Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers at 865-448-2259 or visit their website, www.woodcarvers.com.
The Little River Railroad Museum’s Railroad Days, which includes museum tours, handcar rides, and walking tours of old Townsend and Tremont. Railroad Days at the Little River Railroad Museum will take visitors to another era with museum tours, handcar rides, and walking tours of old Townsend and Tremont. The event will take place Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The walk of Old Townsend will begin at 9 a.m. and will allow guests to see Townsend the way it was in the days of the railroad. Then, the walk around Tremont at 10:30 a.m. will show guests the last area logged by the Little River Lumber Company. The event will also feature rides on a traditional handcar outside the museum. All events are free and meet at the museum. Call 865-448-2211 or visit www.littleriverrailroad.org for more information.
The Blue Country Ribbon Fair, a traditional country fair, with competitions in everything from poultry to produce, a petting zoo, livestock shows, and craft demonstrations. The fair will be held at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center museum in Townsend on Sept. 26 and will feature a livestock show, produce competition, canned goods, pie contest, honey show, and several craft demonstrations. This year’s fair includes a floral design competition, student poster contest, a skillet throw, a greased pig contest, a log skidding demonstration, and interactive exhibits for children. Additionally, Jason Lee Wilson, a traditional country, rockabilly and gospel performer, will do a free concert Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. The fair will be open on Sept. 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on each day, with the concert on the 25th at 7 p.m. Admission to the fair is $3 for the public and free for members. Those that wish to compete for a blue ribbon must turn in entry forms by Sept. 21. For more information contact the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center at 865-448-0044.
The Townsend Fall Heritage Festival, which includes a little bit of everything Appalachia-an antique tractor show, bluegrass music, arts and craft demonstrations, and storytellers who will entertain listeners with the lore and legend of the mountains.
The 17th Townsend Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timers Day includes a wide array of Appalachian experiences for guests-everything from bluegrass music and clogging, to an antique tractor and engine show, storytelling, children’s activities, crafts by local artisans, great food and demonstrations of a variety of traditional skills including basketry, spinning, weaving, sorghum molasses, apple butter making, lye soap, beekeeping, llamas and blacksmithing.
The two-day festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (exhibit room: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for crafts) on Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26, and admission is free. The heart and soul of the festival is music, and more than 20 bluegrass bands perform each year. Cloggers dance to the lively tunes throughout the day. In addition, the Knoxville Pipes and Drums band will perform in honor of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 75th Anniversary. This special performance will take place Friday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m. with a parade from the Storytelling Tent to Highland Manor for the concert.
Activities during the festival include Appalachian displays such as herbal harvest, antique tractors and engines, Cades Cove Preservation Association exhibits and Appalachian Bear Center exhibits, as well as beekeeping, blacksmithing and an Appalachian Quilt Trail activity booth. Also included are demonstrations of mountain berry baskets, lye soap, sorghum molasses, apple cider, and apple butter.
Additionally, visitors can view arts and crafts displays in the Exhibit Room of the Visitors Center. Skilled artisans will be doing rug hooking, quilting, weaving, charcoal and pencil work, basketry, woodcarving and bobbin lace making. Other planned activities include a walk up Chestnut Top Trail with retired park ranger Dwight McCarter on Friday, Sept. 25 from 9.a.m to 11 a.m. Then, at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jim and D. Brown of Honey Rock Herb Farm will do a program about harvesting and using herbs from a fall garden.
The festival also has fun, cultural and educational entertainment planned for children and families, including visits and activities with musicians, storytellers, artists, and animals. Visitors can meet the llamas from Liles Acres Farm on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can even watch how to spin the llamas’ wool into yarn and make apple cider. For children that want to try their hand at arts and crafts, the Townsend Artisan Guild will lead a Young Folks Art Fair in the storytelling tent from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday.
For those who want to take an oral journey through the mountains and its past, Smoky Mountain Tales and Old Time Tunes is the program to see. Balladeers Carl and Betty Ross and the Rocky Branch pickers will perform along with storytellers such as Dwight McCarter, Lendel Abbott, Robin Goddard and special guest musician retired railroad brakeman Roy Harper. These folks will share tales and tunes of Appalachian culture to entertain visitors from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The festival takes place on the grounds of the Townsend Visitors Center, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, in Townsend, Tenn. The festival showcases mountain culture and has been named one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s top 20 fall events. Admission to the festival is free. For more information on the Townsend Fall Heritage Festival, including updates on the schedule, please call the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at 1-800-525-6834 or 865-448-6134 or visit www.smokymountains.org.