The hills were alive with music... and heritage. “Heritage is the living part of us,” said Shirley Ridge, a former resident of Macon County. “More than just reading or learning, it is a part of who we are.
Main Street in Franklin was bursting with activity Saturday, July 16, for the 8th annual Franklin Folk Festival. The entertainment began at 9 a.m. and continued all day long. The thrum of an oldtime dulcimer, the twang of bluegrass and old fashioned harmony gospel resonated in the air of the warm summer day.
Displays and demonstrations of all kinds were set up for people to enjoy and learn about the early traditions of the Appalachian mountains. Handmade shake shingles, pottery demonstrations, quilting, woodworking, and corn shuck dollmaking were all part of the heritage celebration.
A parade began at 11 a.m. featuring classic cars, antique tractors and a covered wagon or two, followed by a corn shucking contest. Commissioner Bobby Kuppers’ team came out the winners.
Brett Pendergrass had never used a cross cut saw before. After getting a quick lesson from Bill Van- Horn of the Nantahala Hiking Club, Pendergrass put his hand to cutting wood the same way his ancestors did. “I have never used a crosscut before,” said Pendergrass. “But now I can say I have.”
VanHorn said that the crosscut saw is still used for work on places like public trails where machinery is not permitted.
Harold Corbin’s homemade still and moonshine were fascinating to visitors. Corbin answered questions about the legality of moonshine, the process of making ’shine, and the history behind making it as well as offering “taste tests.”
The theme for this year’s Folk Festival was “Tales, Trails and Settlements.” A “Front Porch” was set up symbolic of mountain homes where folks would “set a spell” and tell tall tales. Storytelling venues featured the talents of local favorites Gary Carden, Barbara Duncan and others.
The Civil War reenactment was also of particular interest. The reenactment was put on by the 25th NC Infantry. The Civil War camp was set up in the field at Frogtown.
Reed and Alice Henson were running the commissary for the reenactment. The couple have been involved with the reenactments since the very beginning of the Folk Festival.
“It’s a hobby,” Reed said. “The Civil War was a terrible time but when you look at the uniforms and weapons and things, it was a colorful thing.”
Judi Longworth, a member of the United Daughters of Confederacy, teaches living history to 4th and 5th graders in Florida. Longworth was marching in the parade with the UDC dressed in full period costume. “This is what it is all about,” Longworth remarked, “trying to preserve our true history.”
Last year the Folk Festival took 565 volunteers to put together and 7253 hours of work. This year it was even greater. Denise Barton was at the festival with her family. “It is our first time to the festival,” she commented. “But we are having a great time.”