By Joann B. Poindexter • Special to The Smoky Mountain News
The Franklin Folk Festival will celebrate the region’s cultural heritage with music, historical re-enactments and preservation information during an all-day celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 18 in downtown Franklin.
This year’s theme, “Exploring Our Natural Heritage,” highlights the importance of the mountains and associated rich natural resources in shaping Appalachian culture. Sponsored by the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC), the festival is held each year in downtown Franklin on the third weekend in July
This year’s celebration of mountain heritage actually kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 17, with Macon County’s own Patton String Band. They will be joined by the Rye Holler Boys at the Downtown Gazebo for 90 minutes of entertainment. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs, which will also come in handy for Saturday’s Picking on the Square. Friday’s music is sponsored by the Arts Council of Macon County.
Early Saturday morning the streets of Franklin and public areas around the Macon County Courthouse, the First Baptist Church, and the new Town Hall will be lined with exhibitors demonstrating the way early mountaineers lived and celebrated life. More than 100 volunteers will take part in more than 50 live demonstrations of quilting, wood carving, tatting, churning, spinning, weaving, and splitting shingles — creating by hand a wide variety of objects needed for everyday life.
Adults and children who come to the festival will have opportunities to participate in or observe a wide variety of activities such as playing games, splitting boards, stringing beans, entering contests, and taking part in musical jam sessions.
A large contingent of environmental and natural heritage participants will take part, including the Little Tennessee Watershed Association, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, the Nantahala Hiking Club and Friends of the Greenway. The groups will be on hand to share their knowledge and to showcase their missions.
A new festival addition is the Heritage Alive Mountain Youth Talent Contest, sponsored by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia. The contest will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Downtown Gazebo Stage. Participants must complete applications by July 8. Entry forms are available at the Macon County Chamber of Commerce and online at www.spiritofappalachia.org.
The 25th North Carolina Civil War Re-enactors will be camped all weekend within walking distance of downtown Franklin. This popular group will participate in the parade, hold mock battles, and conduct candlelight tours at their camp.
At an old-time “Front Porch” setting, Macon County’s senior citizens will share their memories as they are videotaped so that future generations can hear their stories. This is a favorite gathering place for those who want a glimpse into the past through the eyes of those sharing their own experiences and stories about life in Franklin and surrounding communities that were told to them by their parents and grandparents.
Another highlight of the festival is the Heritage Parade which takes place Saturday at 11 a.m. Working in partnership with the Early Farm Days Engine and Tractor Club, the festival features a Power Parade from the Macon County Fairgrounds to the Main Street of Franklin, where it becomes part of the popular Heritage Parade.
For more information call 800.932.5294 or visit www.mcncfha.org.