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Arts & Entertainment Folk Festival a celebration of local heritage and traditions

Fred Bulgin makes hominy.It’s Franklin Folk Festival time again, and a host of volunteers, both new and old, are going to be present on July 16 from 9 to 4 helping make this year’s “Tales, Trails and Settlements” theme come to life.

The festival will take place along the streets in historic downtown Franklin, the Fellowship Hall of the First Baptist Church and at the Macon County Community Facilities Buildingon 441S.

As usual there will be a lot going on around the Town Hall, including old-fashioned hominy making by Fred Bulgin.

Bulgin says he got interested in making hominy when he and his father, in the later years of his life, started reminiscing about his grandmother, Blanche Bulgin, making hominy, and his dad remarked about how good it would be to have some of her hominy again. The younger Bulgin decided to learn how to make hominy and grant his father’s wish. Bruce Conley making Walking SticksBecause hominy-making is a long process involving a lot of water, cooking and rinsing, he starts the process at home the day before the festival, completing the lye process and cooking and changing the water several times. If you come to the festival, you will get to see the last long cooking and hear all about the process from the grandson who has carried on the family tradition and is more than happy to share his knowledge with anyone who is interested. You will find Bulgin tending the fire and cooking hominy in the big black pot between Town Hall and Macon Furniture.

Also around Town Hall you will find potters, Annie Burrell, Katy Calloway and Doug Hubbs demonstrating their craft and a host of others who will be showing how soap, walking sticks, jewelry, wooden shakes, and even moonshine, are made. You can also learn about beekeeping, how to cane chairs from expert craftspeople as well as visit with demonstrators as they share stories and talk about their displays. Be sure to check out the old tools on display, blacksmith Robbie Shuler at work, and much more.

Rest and sit a spell while enjoying stories from the area’s oldest residents on the Front Porch.Behind Town Hall there will be an expanded variety of games and activities for children and a couple of brand new festival participants. Bob Plott and his dog Nanny will be on hand to greet visitors. Since the Plott hound is the North Carolina state dog, Plott and Nanny are sure to be star attractions. According to the American Kennel Club, the Plott came from Germany and descended from Hanoverian hounds brought to America in 1750 by 16-year-old Johannes George Plott, who settled in North Carolina, where he married, raised his family and bred his dogs. The Plott family has continued breeding the dogs for more than 200 years. To learn more about the family and this remarkable hunting dog, look for Nanny and her owner, Bob Plott, in the shade behind Town Hall.

Wayne Yonce and Ivan Boggs with display of old tools.Walking west from Town Hall, visitors will find exhibitors and demonstrations on Main Street, all around Courthouse Square, Rankin Square, the Gazebo and on Phillips Street and Iotla Street.

The Old School exhibit will be located on the corner of Iotla and Church Street. The “Front Porch” will be positioned in the parking lot at the corner across the street. New this year will be a tent where you can sit and listen as our oldest citizens share stories while being videotaped. When you pass the First Baptist Church, turn right to enter the First Baptist Church’s Fellowship Hall, where you will find more interesting exhibits and demonstrations, including the Smoky Mountain Quilters’ Make It and Take It activity, a new Decoration Day exhibit borrowed from Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, local church history exhibits and memorials to some of Franklin Folk Festival’s treasured participants.

In front of the Courthouse, festival visitors can board buses for free transportation to and from the Civil War Re-enactors’ campsite located on Frogtown and the Community Facilities Building, where even more demonstrations are taking place. Folks will find tatting, crocheting, quilting, weaving, spinning, rug hooking and braiding, embroidery, painting, photography, woodturning and other crafts featured. Barbara McRae, recognized by the Macon County Commissioners as Macon County’s Historian of the Year, will also be at the Community Building to share her display and talk about the history of Macon County.

Doug Hubbs demonstrates his pottery skills.The Festival has grown from what started as a Main Street Activity to a greatly expanded educational and entertaining free event that celebrates the history and heritage of Macon County and all the Appalachian Mountains. Since this is a free festival, corporate sponsorships and monetary donations to help with expenses are greatly appreciated.

Anyone desiring to help with the festival or volunteer in any way can contact Theresa Ramsey, Festival Coordinator, at (828)369-7411. Key groups that partner with The Folk Heritage Association that offer hands-on fun activities include The Arts Council of Macon County, Macon County 4-H, Macon County Schools, and downtown museums/businesses.

Sponsoring this year’s festival are Macon County TDC, Franklin Main Street Program, Franklin TDA, Macon County Parks and Recreation and Macon County Community Foundation.


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