Every year the park features various aspects of pioneer skills during its fall living-history event, which showcases quilting, butter churning, log splitting and a visitor favorite, candle making. Along with blacksmithing, basket weaving and chair caning, the family-oriented festival carried on even in the rain. The pioneer games helped children see just how different playing was two centuries ago; they also had the opportunity to make their own cornhusk dolls and toys.
This year visitors saw live demonstrations of syrup making, the newest addition to the festival.
Park Manager Daniel Hill said, “The cane mill was donated years ago and no one knew what it was. It was stored outside when Herman Moore, a campground host, noticed it and told us it was a very old cane mill. Growing up on his parents’ farm, Herman made syrup from cane every year so he was very familiar with it.” Moore’s son-in-law, Dennis Odom, volunteered to restore the aging mill and Hill gladly accepted.
Carme Stone, of Tate, has participated in historical demonstrations of pottery, yarn spinning, knitting and butter churning for the past 20 years.
As she spun yarn from sheep’s wool on the front porch of the cabin she said, “I especially enjoy doing demonstrations for kids. It is important for them, or anyone really, to know that our modern-day conveniences are just that, conveniences; they aren’t necessities.”
Stone’s grandchildren, Miranda, 9, and George Travis, 7, came up to show her their newest creations, a handmade cornhusk doll and a mini chair with the seat that George Travis weaved himself. “It’s a family affair and I want them to grow up with a sense of understanding of how life could be,” said Stone.
Harvest at the Homestead was held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and continues today at the same time near the lodge at Red Top Mountain State Park. Information on all park events can be found at the Red Top Mountain State Park website or the Friends of Red Top Facebook page. The park is always looking for volunteers and anyone interested can come the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. to the Friends of Red Top meeting located at the lodge.
Hill said, “I love these events because it engages the guest and shares our true mission, which is education.”