Red Top presents Springtime at the Homestead this weekend
by Marie Nesmith
Mar 29, 2011 | 2762 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During last year’s Springtime at the Homestead, Deb Goldgehn pours a bowl of potato and leek soup that she made in the 1870s Vaughan log cabin.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
During last year’s Springtime at the Homestead, Deb Goldgehn pours a bowl of potato and leek soup that she made in the 1870s Vaughan log cabin. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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While there will be many fascinating pioneer demonstrations at Red Top Mountain State Park's Springtime at the Homestead, Damon Kirkpatrick feels the event's centerpiece -- the 1870s Vaughan log cabin -- is one of the highlights.

"I think everything having to do with the cabin itself, the actual structure [is the most appealing]," said Kirkpatrick, president of the Friends of Red Top and manager of chapter services for Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. "That particular piece of [the event] tends to have the most surprises ... if we're cooking a chicken, for example, we might use a string spit, which is a string that hangs from the ceiling and the chicken dangles on the bottom and spins around in front of the fire to help make it cook evenly.

"Those little types of things that were just normal practice for the pioneers, tend to surprise the guests the most because they realize, 'Wait, we do this now, but we use a grill with batteries and a spit that turns and things like that.' So just seeing that some of the things that we do now, they did then but very differently [is interesting].'"

On Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Vaughan cabin -- which is behind the Park Office -- will be buzzing with activity as patrons will be treated to a glimpse of 19th-century pioneer life. Demonstrations will range from tools and weapons to quilting and spinning. At 4 p.m., music and dancing will be offered near the Summey Casting Shed.

"I think, like many of our events, this one has a lot to do with the history of the area. One of the things that we try to do is demonstrate what civilian life was like in the 1840s through 1860s," Kirkpatrick said. "You can go a lot of places and learn a lot about Civil War life and the military re-enactments and things like that but we try to do a lot [on] the civilian aspect. We even do have some Civil War re-enactors who join us but they re-enact what it was like camping around civilian homes, which was pretty common in the area. So it makes us a little unique because those types of demonstrations where you can see the military side of the war are pretty much ubiquitous. But we try to show the civilian side as well.

"We turn our cabin into what a homestead would have been like around springtime. Springtime is a busy time in the pioneer days with planting and getting things ready and working on tools and things like that. So we try and demonstrate a lot of those crafts and activities. We'll have pioneer tool demonstrations that will show some of the various tools that were used, for example, to build the cabin, how they were used and then just a number of other things going on. We'll have butter churning and cooking, some of the things we usually do. That's how we try to re-enact what homestead life was like back then."

As a cooking demonstrator, Deb Goldgehn, secretary of Friends of Red Top, will don period attire -- long skirt and apron -- as she depicts pioneer life this weekend.

"Basically we cook the way they would have cooked in the 1800s," she said. "We use Dutch ovens, a fireplace. Sometimes if it's nice out, we cook outside. We try to use age-appropriate foods -- food that they would have had available then.

"Introducing the children to the way life was is always fun and interesting. And I've got to tell you, the older people are great, too. We hear consistently, 'My grandmother used to be just like this' .... It's great. All the people coming in are just amazing."

For more information, call 770-975-0055 or visit www.gastateparks.org. To attend the free event, individuals will need to have an annual pass or purchase a $5 daily ParkPass at the Park Office or Visitor Center.