In the upper elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains national park there is a touch of color and the heat has broken and even in the valleys the heat of summer has been broken so the annual Mountain Life Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum in Oconaluftee is right around the corner.
Come to the farm museum on Saturday September 19th from 10 am to 4 pm and learn why leather britches are not pants, what carding means when it has nothing to do with ID and what it's like to make your own soap while listening to great Appalachian style music - all for free!
While I am sad to see what for me signals for me the end of summer, this is one annual event in the Great Smoky Mountains national park I have not missed for years.
The location of the Farm Museum is perfect in beautiful green valley alongside the Oconaluftee River surrounded by low mountains that will only have a hint of color just a minute inside the park boundary at Cherokee.
Expect the hands of time turn back more than a hundred years and see interesting live demonstrations by park staff and volunteers such as lye soap making, hearth cooking, food preservation, broom making, quilting, blacksmithing, chair bottoming, along with apple butter and apple cider making. You will get to sample warm cider too!
A special edition this year to help celebrate the parks 75th anniversary is a showcase Appalachian folkways along with historic artifacts and photographs from the national park's collection will also be on display to help pay tribute to the former resident who lived where the park now stands.
Corn husk dolls, hominy making, old time toys and other interesting demonstrations about what home life was 100 years ago in the Great Smoky Mountains will be going on around the farm museum.
You can also learn about the more than 40 types of apple tress the Cherokee and the early settlers grew from Ron and Suzanne Joyner from Big Horse Creek Farm in Ashe County, NC. When I interviewed them in the past they were a wealth of knowledge and they presently have a nursery with more than 300 varieties of custom-grafted heirloom apple trees.
In the farm itself, you can watch an almost 40 year old tradition of the Great Smoky Mountains national park: the making of sorghum syrup. The Appalachian early settlers did not have table sugar and they grew their own sorghum and with a horse-powered cane mill and wood-fired cooker made this important food stable.
Students, staff, and volunteers from Swain County High School through a cooperative agreement with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains Association will be feeding the press which is pictured above and making the sorghum syrup.
Through all the celebrating at the Mountain Farm Museum in Oconaluftee, don't miss the musical entertainment by Marshall Crowe and the Bluegrass Singers.
Bedsides the event, take some time to stroll down the Oconaluftee River hiking trail which is one of the 2 trails in the park that allows well behaved leashed dogs and stroll around the farm with its historic buildings and picturesque landscape.