When the first cool night brushes the leaves with amber, gold, and magenta, your thoughts turn to making apple butter, baking family favorites, picking pumpkins with the little ones, and weekends filled with festivals and carnival rides. Speaking of festivals, it’s time to add Old Mill Heritage Day to your fall calendar!
Now in its 16th year, our annual celebration of the crafts, culture, and traditions of the Great Smoky Mountains will be held on Saturday, September 28th. Old Mill Heritage Day has grown from humble beginnings into an event not to be missed. Admission is free, and you’re invited.
An Appalachian Celebration
Honoring the lives and work of those who came before us, Old Mill Heritage Day offers something for everyone and fun for all. Our nearly 200-year-old mill will be open for free guided tours throughout the day. Visitors can watch stone millwheels grind corn into high-quality meal, and chat with our miller. Meanwhile, old-timers will be frying up cornbread on the front porch, offering tours, and telling tales of a day in the life of an old grist mill.
Our Pigeon River Pottery is more than a retail shop; it’s a studio where artisans hone their craft every day. Heritage Day offers an ideal opportunity to see these talented potters at work. They’ll be happy to explain their process, answer questions, and share pottery tips, tricks and techniques. As the walls lined with mugs, tables loaded with bowls, and shelves full of plates attest, no two pieces of handmade pottery are exactly alike. And all are available for your purchase.
Old Forge Distillery Carries on an Age-Old Tradition
Our Scotch-Irish ancestors brought their knowledge of converting grains to spirits with them when they settled these mountains. Growing corn proved easy, but transforming it into moonshine required ingenuity and hardheaded dedication. At the Old Forge Distillery, you can learn how our distillers carry on this age-old Appalachian tradition. And you can enjoy the results! Free tastings for the grownups are more than just sampling a spirit or two, they’re informative, creative, and just plain fun.
See Appalachian Crafters, Antique Cars and More
In addition to our own makers, we gather Appalachian artists and crafters from across the region to showcase their work in our Heritage Market. Folks, like Louise Bales, a local artist whose paintings and sculptures are inspired by the natural beauty of her life in the Smokies will return. You’ll find woodcrafters and weavers, soap and apple butter makers, and quilters gathering as they would have decades ago.
Antique engines will ping, pop, and sputter, powered by fuel and the determination of their owners. You’ll see these marvelous machines employed to churn ice cream, pump water, and play tunes. Antique tractors are sure to catch the eye of kids of all ages, while antique autos will draw the attention of anyone curious to know how cars were built a century ago. (Be prepared when the youngsters ask why such vehicles offer no ports to recharge your cell phone.)
Enjoy the Music, Clogging, Fun, and Games
A true celebration of Appalachian heritage demands that food and music share centerstage in style. Traditional favorites like pinto beans and cornbread, chicken and dumplings, BBQ sandwiches, and more can be enjoyed while the folk songs of Boogertown Gap float on the autumn air. Cloggers and twirlers will perform to rambunctious versions of Rocky Top as family and friends cheer them on. Time between musical acts will offer bingo players the opportunity to grab a card and cake walkers the chance to win a treat.
Fun and games abound in our kid’s area. A petting zoo will be surrounded by old-time games that stir the imagination and make creativity come alive. Face painting and pumpkin painting are colorful activities sure to bring out the artist in every child. Local police officers and firemen will offer children a close-up view of their motorcycles and tanker trucks, and talk to them one on one, strengthening the bonds of our community.
Heritage Day kicks off with the National Anthem at 10 a.m. and wraps up with our headliner, Jimbo Whaley & Friends, hitting the stage at 5 p.m. It’s a day that brings the past and the present together, with food, music, arts, crafts, history, and fun. A day that allows you to look back in time while you create memories you’ll treasure in the future. Did we mention that attendance is free? Well, it is, so join us on The Old Mill Square on Saturday, September 28th. We’re looking forward to seeing you!