You can, quite literally, sample the ways of the past at the annual Mountain Life Festival that will be celebrated at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 21.
Staged at the Mountain Farm Museum near Cherokee, North Carolina, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this celebration of Appalachian folk life is a tribute to the many families who lived on lands that later became the national park.
You'll be able to sample apple butter and learn how to make apple cider, watch blacksmiths pounding gleaming-hot irons, and there more than likely will be some fiddlin' going on.
The Mountain Life Festival shares with park visitors some of the traditional fall activities that were an important part of rural life in the southern mountains, and reflects the spirit of cooperation that existed among families and neighbors.
All activities are free and open to the public and will include demonstrations of hearth cooking, apple butter and apple cider making, blacksmithing, lye soap making, food preservation, broom making, quilting, and chair bottoming. Artifacts and historic photographs from the national park's collection will also be on display.
The sorghum syrup demonstration has been the centerpiece of the event for more than 30 years. The syrup is made much the same way it was produced 100 or more years ago, using a horse-powered cane mill and wood-fired cooker. The syrup making demonstration is provided by students, staff, and volunteers from Swain County High School Future Farmers of America through a cooperative agreement with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains Association.
In addition to the Mountain Life Festival events, visitors will also be treated to music jam sessions held on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center every first and third Saturday of the month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The Mountain Farm Museum is located adjacent to the park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center on US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, two miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For more information call the visitor center at (828) 497-1904.