This weekend, including today, Murray’s Mill is celebrating their 30th anniversary of The Harvest Folk Festival. Clearly all that practice has paid off.
The stellar weather was a plus , and there were plenty of Boyscouts directing traffic and parking, which hurried things along. Volunteers were everywhere, and it was those volunteers who made the day so enjoyable.
Instead of us watching reenactments of how life was ‘back then,” we got to participate in the activities. We panned for gold, and while I didn’t find any gold, I did find a pea-sized emerald (so says the volunteer) which I promptly gave to the kid next to me who went crazy happy. We made our own candles dipping strings into big cauldrons of melted wax. We watched others start fires with just two sticks, pack their molds in sand at the makeshift foundry, and make baskets.
Almost every child, and several adults, made a birdhouse, bat house or step stool. Civil War reenactments with very loud guns and cannons, hay rides, pony rides, food, local craft vendors, live music, a variety of other interactive craft stations, a petting zoo, antique cars and farm equipment, and the obligatory quilters with their silly hats (which I learned were worn not for shade but to keep their hair clean) provided a full day of learning and enjoyment. I actually feel confident enough now to pan for and recognize gold – which is still a prominent pastime in these here hills. I also have a “hankerin” to extend my candle-making skills since I’m pretty happy with the one I made today.
There was even a tent where handmade Civil War clothing, flags, and some beautiful leather goods were being sold.
We left the festival with a sense of a day well spent, but also a renewed appreciation for the time in which we were born. My generation (I was a baby boomer) filled a space between some rough times in American history. I feel very lucky. But I also have a yearning for a simpler time, and it was a nice reminder to me that those simpler times weren’t exactly so simple, but rather lean and difficult for many, and you had to work very hard just to put a meal on the table, or have enough light to read by if you were lucky enough to have a book.
The best part! This is just the beginning of these festivals in Western North Carolina. The Wooly Worm Festival is around the corner. And I’m looking forward to Octoberfest and several wine festivals this fall.