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Big South Fork to host annual Spring Planting and Music Festival on Saturday

For many mountain families, spring was a time to start planting crops and for livestock production which sustained them through the rest of the year.

Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — Saturday marks an annual festival meant to honor Appalachian culture and celebrate the history of families in the area.

At Big South Fork, people will gather for the annual Spring Planting and Music Festival. The festival is meant to celebrate the communities that built the Appalachian area, and for them, spring was a time to start planting crops and start the livestock production tasks that would sustain families for the rest of the year.

The early families who settled in the Big South Fork area depended on their ability to raise animals, gardens and crops so they could feed themselves. They mostly practiced subsistence farming, and families usually ate all of what their gardens grew. They also continued using wild plants and animal foods.

Families also had several spring "chores" such as spring cleaning and airing out of the house, cleaning bed linens, repairing fences, animal husbandry tasks and mending clothes.

During Saturday's festival, crafters will show people how most of these tasks were done. They are skilled in blacksmithing, basket making, hand spinning, weaving, woodcarving, chair caning, soap making, paling fence making and are knowledgeable in growing garden herbs.

There will also be children's activities, fun runs, bird watching and guided walks through wildflowers. Vendors will also set up booths during the festival, demonstrating and selling their wares. Food will also be available during the event.

Traditional mountain music will also sound through the trees, played by many groups such as the Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club.

Mules and horses will also plow and plant crops at the Lora Blevins field, with other demonstrations taking place at the Oscar Blevins Farm Site.

The event is free and organizers encourage people to bring a lawn chair or blanket, as well as bug spray. Anyone who wants to learn more about the event can call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-569-9778.

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