Published On: Thu, Sep 6th, 2012

Park to host Mountain Life Festival

The annual Mountain Life Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will take place on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10am – 4pm. The event preserves the legacy of Appalachian folkways, and serves as a tribute to the many families who lived on lands that would later become the Park.

Lisa Free demonstrates the spinning of wool at a past Mountain Life Festival. (NPS Photo)

The purpose of the Mountain Life Festival is to share with park visitors some of the traditional fall activities that were an important part of rural life in the southern mountains as well as the spirit of cooperation that existed among families and neighbors. Activities during the day will include hearth cooking, apple butter and apple cider making, blacksmithing, lye soap making, food preservation, broom making, quilting, and chair bottoming. Artifacts and historic photographs from the Park’s collection will be on display, and music will be provided by local musicians.

The centerpiece of the event will be the sorghum syrup demonstration, which the national park has provided each fall for over 30 years. The syrup is made much the same way it was produced a hundred or more years ago, using a horse-powered cane mill and wood-fired cooker. The demonstration is provided by students, staff, and volunteers from Swain County High School Future Farmer’s of America through a cooperative agreement with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains Association. All activities are free and open to the public.

This year’s event is dedicated to long term volunteer David Higgins, who passed away in March of this year. Over the past 20 years, David donated over 15,000 hours helping to maintain the open air Mountain Farm Museum at Oconaluftee. His knowledge of heirloom farming and other Southern Appalachian lifeways such as wood working, basketry, and broom making made him a friend to many visitors.

Info: Oconaluftee Visitor Center 497-1904.

– NPS