Red Top throws holiday celebration with Christmas at the Cabin
by Marie Nesmith
Nov 29, 2011 | 2604 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Santa Claus visits with children at a previous Christmas at the Cabin event at Red Top Mountain State Park.
SPECIAL/Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Santa Claus visits with children at a previous Christmas at the Cabin event at Red Top Mountain State Park. SPECIAL/Georgia Department of Natural Resources
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For Damon Kirkpatrick, Red Top Mountain State Park's Christmas at the Cabin will offer an immersing experience for the entire family. Set for Saturday, the event will be centered around the venue's 19th century Vaughan log cabin from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We do our Christmas at the Cabin annually, and basically, like many of our cabin programs, we try to re-enact what it would have been like in the early 1830s, 1840s in rural Georgia," said Kirkpatrick, president of the Friends of Red Top. "So we will have Christmas tree decorating. We will be using crafts, period to the time, to decorate our Christmas tree. We'll have cooking demonstrations. We'll have toys and games, just some of the normal things that would have been going on at Christmastime that many years ago.

"[The event's appeal is] of course everybody loves Santa and he will be there," he said, referring to Santa's visit in which families need to bring cameras if they want to capture their children with St. Nicholas. "But one of the things that people seem to appreciate most is the sights and sounds and smells. As we cook Christmas dinner over the open hearth flame, it's a little different than what people experience in their kitchen right now. And it lets people step back to a time when things were a little simpler and see how holidays were celebrated then. So it's a very immersive experience."

Among the event's demonstrators will be Deb Goldgehn, who has been depicting pioneer life for the past 10 years at Red Top programs.

"I do open hearth cooking demonstrations," said Goldgehn, secretary for the Friends of Red Top. "It entails cooking directly on the hearth in front of the fireplace, usually with a Dutch oven. [In the past] we've [made] soups, stews, hams, about anything that can be cooked, [even] pies.

"[I really enjoy] meeting the people. We get a lot of, 'Oh, my grandparents used to do this.' It's always fun to talk to the people that come through. The interesting thing that we've run into is -- well we haven't done them lately -- but we had school groups that have come through and the fun thing is listening to kids educate their parents. It's great. Parents will ask a simple question like -- because we usually churn butter too, that seems to be one of the big ones -- 'How do you make butter, where does it come from?' And the kids answer and it is great."

In addition to the pioneer demonstrations, Kirkpatrick feels the event's centerpiece -- the Vaughan cabin -- is one of the event's highlights.

"[The cabin is] absolutely a great feature," he said. "It's a natural, historic cabin and we suspect it was built sometime around 1835 -- so we use 1830s, 1840s, just so that we get it all in there. But around 1835, it was very typical construction. It was a little large for this area but it was very typical.

"We've done a lot of research on it and learned that the first family that lived in the cabin and probably built it was a family of 15 children and that's a lot of people to fit in that little cabin. So we really enjoy trying to interpret that history and bring that to life."

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.