Click on the photos to enlarge them!
My husband and I and two of our friends usually attend this festival every year. The exhibits are much the same, but we enjoy seeing them, eating, and listening to the music – it’s never boring! And the people we encounter are down-to-earth nice, mostly from the surrounding mountains.
The festival is held on the campus of Ferrum College (I’ve heard it pronounced Furrum) in the Virginia mountains towards the end of October, when the tree color is at a knock-your-eyes out level, usually peak. The campus has lots of open areas with winding paths, so there’s plenty of space for all sorts of things.
This year when we entered (the price is only $5.00 each for senior folk), we were lured to the Gospel tent, where some mighty sounds were being generated by the Lanell Starkey and the Spiritual Seven full band African American gospel group. While the men folk listened, the women folk wandered off to find a Port-a-Potty (something we tend to do after three cups of coffee). While waiting in line, I started to chat with an elderly lady clutching a Styrofoam box. She showed me its contents: a most mouth-watering barbecue sandwich I’d ever seen! So after passing some dessert-laden tables and doing my best to ignore them, we grabbed the men and headed to the barbecue tent. It was almost noon and the smells emanating from the tent just pulled you in.
After the smoky, delicious barbecue, we walked over to observe a coon dog contest. A raccoon pelt is run up a pole, the dog is released and the number of times the dog barks while trying to get to it is recorded. The record was 62 that day.
Then on to an area with old farm implements: steam engines, tractors, plows etc. One large steam engine let out a wail every few minutes. It was powering a belt that was running a thrasher – thresher for most of us. We talked to the owner of the engine and admired a 1909 Ford model T truck he had put together from bits and pieces. Another, smaller steam engine was being used to grind corn. After admiring a few more pieces of antique equipment, we crossed the main road to the crafts section.
This was more my style: sorghum molasses making: a place to buy homemade apple, peach, or pear butter; a wool-dying demonstration; a working forge with an older than the mountains fellow making various items with commentary by his son; a walnut cracking station; leather works; a weaving demonstration on small looms; and finally, the antique car show.
At that point, I sat down at the entrance where all the Ford Model Ts, As and Bs were parked and just admired the cars. By now most of my readers know I love the old Fords. The men went further down in the lot to admire the old muscle cars from the 40s, 50s and 60s and chat with the owners. They do it every year, never changes!
Next came ice cream. We wandered back across the campus and around the lake, stopping to watch a coon dog contest where the contestants swam across the lake following a raccoon pelt on a line. The shortest time won $500: three minutes and we got to see the winner. The ice cream is homemade, right there on the spot, using a steam engine to turn the cranks. My better half had peach, our friends, butter pecan.
After sitting and talking to people while eating the ice cream, mostly politics, we headed to our last stop and my favorite by far: the bluegrass music tent. There we sat and listened to the Highlander String Band (dulcimer, fiddle, banjo and guitar) and then the Rohrer Brothers and Son (banjo, base, guitar). Foot tapping for sure and some little girls – and an adult or two – dancing.
We arrived home mid-afternoon, full of good food and carrying peach and apple butter to remind us of a great time!