Harvest at Homestead interprets pioneer life
by Marie Nesmith
Sep 12, 2013 | 1862 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Red Top Naturalist Marcus Toft examines the nearly 700-pound sugar cane mill built in the early 1900s that will be making cane syrup at the Harvest at the Homestead event at Red Top Mountain State Park. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Red Top Naturalist Marcus Toft examines the nearly 700-pound sugar cane mill built in the early 1900s that will be making cane syrup at the Harvest at the Homestead event at Red Top Mountain State Park. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Once a spectator at Red Top Mountain State Park’s events, Keith Bailey now is helping others discover their roots as a blacksmith demonstrator. On Sept. 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Fairmount resident — and part-time naturalist for Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site — will craft pioneer items at Harvest at the Homestead.

“Basically, I’ll be making some nails just to show the guests the basics of blacksmithing, to give them an idea of how you judge the temperature of the metal, the type of fuel that you use, how the metal is bent and how it’s flexible when it’s hot, just some real basic stuff,” Bailey said. “And then sometimes I’ll make a horseshoe or something to go with it to just really give them an idea of the utilitarian [nature] and the importance that blacksmiths played in the pioneer era in this area. Of course, that goes along with the whole iron industry that was in Cartersville and Bartow County and Cherokee County.

“[At these events, I enjoy] talking with people, being able to relate to them. I learned blacksmithing because my ancestors had done it. ... I started demonstrating at Red Top about 10 years ago. Before that I was doing genealogy. I came up to Red Top to see some demonstrations that they were doing to get an idea of what some of my ancestors were doing. Then took that as an opportunity to demonstrate and kind of get a hands on look from my ancestors’ point of view.”

With demonstrations, music and games, Red Top’s Harvest at the Homestead will provide patrons a snapshot of pioneer life during the mid-1800s. For Red Top Interpretive Ranger Marcus Toft, the Vaughan log cabin behind the Park Office is the perfect setting for an event like this.

“We’ll have people cooking and doing blacksmithing and sewing, spinning, playing music with instruments from that time period,” said Toft, adding for the first time, the event also will showcase the making of sugar cane syrup from a refurbished mill. “So it’s all authentic to that period and it’s just a way to show what life was like in this area at that time. ... So we hope people take away an understanding and an appreciation of what it was like to live back then [and] also to see how it was simpler than the way we live now but also there’s still a lot of work that was done.

“You can do this kind of program anywhere, especially if the people are wearing the costumes. You still get that atmosphere and the ambience. But because it’s an authentic cabin from this time period, it’s a great resource for us to use and to be able to sort of house all of these different activities, like the cooking. We have lots of people that will set up on the porch to do different demonstrations of music and spinning and sewing and making chairs and that kind of thing. So it’s just a great gathering place. It kind of draws people in, because it’s such a great visual, but then it’s just a great place for us to be able to have all these activities.”

While admission to the event is free, attendees will need to display an annual or a $5 daily ParkPass inside their vehicles. For more information, call 770-975-0055 or visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org.