Park to host 38th Annual “Festival of Christmas Past”

by Nov 27, 2013Happenings0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces the 38th annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 14, 9:30 a.m. – 4p.m., at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.  The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public.

Park volunteer Jen Smith shows a young park visitor how to make a rag doll during the 2012 Festival of Christmas Past. (NPS photo)

Park volunteer Jen Smith shows a young park visitor how to make a rag doll during the 2012 Festival of Christmas Past. (NPS photo)

“This is our 38th year of celebrating the holiday season through traditional mountain music, storytelling, and crafts,” said Kent Cave, North District Resource Education Supervisor. “It is the Park’s obligation and privilege to preserve these traditions and keep them alive for future generations. Young and old alike will again have the opportunity to relive Christmas in a simpler time along the Forks of the River community.”

The festival will include old-time mountain music and traditional harp singing. Demonstrations of traditional domestic skills such as the making of rag rugs, apple-head dolls, quilts, and apple butter will be ongoing throughout the day.  There will also be several chances to experience these traditions hands-on, with crafts to make and take home.

New this year, are local storytellers, Kathy and Mike Gwinn. Together they will share stories of the Christmas season in Appalachia and play songs of the season to get visitors into the Christmas spirit. “We are happy to be sharing the traditions of Christmas in a new way this year, and are looking forward to their performance,” said Cave.

As in years past, the Christmas Memories Walk will be held at 11 am and 2 pm, to teach visitors about the spirit of the season in these mountains in the time period from the 1880s to 1930s.

The full schedule of events for the day includes:

·        9:30 a.m. – “Old-fashioned Harp Singing” led by Bruce Wheeler, Paul Clabo and Martha Graham

·        11a.m.– “Stories of the Past” panel discussion, presented by the Smoky Mountain Historical Society

·        12p.m. –  An Appalachian Christmas- Storytelling by Kathy and Mike Gwinn

·        1p.m. – Old Time Music with the South of the River Boys

·        2p.m. – Old Time Music with Boogertown Gap Band

·        3p.m. – Old Time Music with Lost Mill String Band

·        11am -12:30 pm and 2-3:30 p.m. – “Christmas Memories Walk” – Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk from the visitor center and talk about life in the mountains during the holidays in the early days of the 1880s to the 1930s

“We invite everyone to come and experience the joys of an old fashioned mountain Christmas,” said Cave.