The Cumberland Plateau during the late 1800s and early 1900s was quite isolated from the rest of the world, and travel into and out of the area was very limited. With only a few rugged roads and wild un-bridged rivers to cross, the rare trip to town was only done out of necessity. This place is now a part of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
Spring was an important time for the farmers and the families who lived in the hollows and hills. It was a time to enjoy the sunshine with longer daylight hours – the grass was greener and the air sweeter, and the dull winter days were past. It was time for birth, growth and warmth. The onset of warm, sunny weather and abundant rain meant it was a time when seeds germinated and new animal life was born. Windows and doors were opened wide to allow homes to air out from the winter. Floors were scrubbed clean, windows were washed and pillows, quilts and comforters were put out to air. Clothing was hung out to dry in the sweet sunshine.
Just about everything a person needed for survival was grown, raised or taken from the land or made by hand. People anticipated the time when the threat of cold weather and frost was past. They could get outside once again to plant their seeds and do their daily chores. Flower and vegetable seeds collected and carefully stored away were brought out of their hiding places. The earth was ready to give the seeds a new place to hide and allow them to grow.
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area continues this tradition of spring through a very special one-day festival. Spring Planting Day was held on Saturday, April 30th, around the 1900s era Lora Blevins farm.
The event featured several horse and mule teams using traditional farming equipment to plow and plant the historic farm field. There were also craft demonstrators and sales. Visitors watched a blacksmith as he shaped metal in his forge and the woodworker as he rived fence palings from oak logs. Baskets were woven and fibers of wool were spun into thread.
There were also opportunities to talk with some of the people who made this area their home before it was a National Park Service area, and to learn the names of garden and medicinal herbs and the many uses for these plants. For kids, there was an “old timey” toys display. And for all there were the delightful sounds of the mountain dulcimer as presented by the Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club.
For more information on this event, click on the link below.