“A couple of times a year we have these homestead events and it allows visitors to get an idea of what life was like around the middle of the 19th century, so the 1850s or so,” said Marcus Toft, naturalist at Red Top. “And it’s not really a re-enactment even though we’re going to have some Civil War re-enactors there. It’s more of a living history event and for visitors to get an idea of some of the ways things were done, like cooking and laundry and even just living.
“We have the cabin so [people can] see what the living conditions were like with the beds. And then we have blacksmithing and woodworking [so it is] just a way to step back in time. This year, we’re not going to [offer] dancing but we’re going to have various competitions and since I’ve been here that’s new. We’re going to have a sack race and a hoop race, basically pioneer-type games and people can sign up and compete and win some little prizes.”
For Damon Kirkpatrick, president of the Friends of Red Top Mountain State Park, it is important for people to be better informed about Bartow’s roots.
“As we look back and see how this area evolved with the iron industry and the pioneers that lived here, understanding the way that they lived and where they lived, those types of things, really help history come to life,” Kirkpatrick said. “And that’s what we try to do at the cabin is help people step back in time to another time when things were a little bit simpler in some ways and a little bit harder in other ways. We try to demonstrate the simplicity of life along with the work that had to be done just to give people a taste of what history in this area was like.
“Bartow County and really all of northwest Georgia had such a rich, rich history. So many people who we don’t really think of anymore, [such as] the farmers and the shopkeepers, were really the heroes of the day making Bartow County and northwest Georgia what it is today. ... One of the things that we try to do at Harvest at the Homestead is show what regular life was like.”
An annual event, Harvest at the Homestead is drawing area residents as well as people across the state to Red Top.
“It has been one of our more popular offerings and we’ve noticed over the past two years it’s growing by leaps and bounds with out-of-town guests,” Kirkpatrick said. “We have people that drive up from Marietta, from Duluth, from much farther south to come up because it’s one of the few opportunities to see that type of history in action. There are lots of places to see Civil War re-enactments and things like [that] but this is one of the few spots you can really go and have a hands-on experience with pioneer life.
“We try to keep everything so that kids can get involved and touch and feel and make things. It gives them the opportunity to really get involved and be hands on in the history that was here. So we’ve noticed a lot of new out-of-town guests, which we love. A lot of Girl Scouts are finding out that a lot of our activities satisfy badge requirements and we’re really excited and proud of it.”
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.