Visitors this Saturday to the Great Smoky Mountains national park should make sure to stop by the Mountain Farm Museum next to the Oconaluftee visitor center where from 10 am to 4 pm the annual Mountain Life Festival will be taking place.
Here at the Farm Museum visitors will be able to see first hand a tradition that has been taking place for almost 40 years here in the Great Smoky Mountains national park - the sorghum syrup demonstration.
Sorghum syrup was a stable food in the diet of those that inhabited the land that became the Great Smoky Mountains national park. Park staff, students and volunteers from Swain County High School will be making sorghum syrup by using a horse-powered cane mill and wood-fired cooker - the same way it was made more than 100 years ago.
Besides the live Appalachian music performed by Marshall Crowe and the Bluegrass Singers, you will get to see live demonstrations traditional toy making, hearth cooking, hominy making, apple butter, apple cider, soap making. There will also be a display of farm implements, historic photographs from the national park's archives and an artifact collection.
The hominy making demonstration will be made by the Woodard family from Bryson City, NC. Also on hand will be well-known naturalist, author and native plants instructor Ila Hatter from Stecoah, NC and Ron and Suzanne Joyner from Big Horse Creek Farm in Ashe County, NC who maintains more than 300 varieties of custom-grafted heirloom apple trees on their family-owned orchard and nursery.
While you are here at the farm museum stroll around and be immersed in the Appalachian history of the park. Go take a walk along the Oconaluftee River Hiking Trail which is easy and level and one of the best handicapped accessible trails in the park.
All of these events are free to the public. To get to the farm museum take Newfound Gap Road (US 441) just 2 miles north of the Cherokee North Carolina entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains national park.