Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 20, 2012

Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival gives life to old-time Appalachian arts, crafts


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CROSSVILLE — For those who are looking for a piece of Appalachia to take home with them, the 20th annual Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day is a two-day event to mark on your calendar. 

On Sept. 28-29, in Townsend, TN, more than 35 artisans and craftsmen will gather at the visitors center to demonstrate their talent and sell their artwork. The event is free, and it includes activities for all ages.

“The annual heritage festival provides visitors and locals with the opportunity to see time-honored Appalachian and East Tennessee traditions first-hand,” said Carolyn Roach, chair of the 2012 Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day. “The talent and skills of the festival’s artisans and craftsmen provide insight into the history and heritage of mountain crafts from pottery, basketry and photography to candle making, ironworks and acrylic pen and ink artwork.”

Mike and Connie Clemmer, of Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, are just two of the many crafters who will be at the festival. Both craft and play dulcimers, a unique string instrument native to the Appalachian Mountains. They use special blended wood contrasting from black walnut to Tennessee cherry to create a beautifully handcrafted instrument that maintains a sweet song from which the instrument derives its name.

Rick Kratz of Kratz Photography will also be displaying and selling his nature photos at this year’s festival. He visited the Great Smoky Mountains as a child and developed an immediate love for the breathtaking scenery, promising himself that he would someday return. True to his word, he moved to the area in 1996 and hikes and backpacks the many trails, documenting his adventures in photographs. His pictures include anything from scenes of Cades Cove to the native wildlife of the Smokies. But his favorite subject to photograph is the black bear because capturing a picture of the majestic animal poses a fun challenge for him.

One of the many woodworking vendors at the festival highlights Chuck Ellis of Tellico Turnings, a local carpenter who handcrafts all of his original wood products in the Cherokee National Forest. Ellis will display and sell wood artwork including bowls, pepper grinders, wine glasses and goblets, as well as an array of other wood pieces.

Denisea Mann of Dunlap will be in attendance at the heritage festival displaying her trade of making homemade soaps. Mann’s line, Natural Affinity Soaps, is made from only pure and natural ingredients, and she incorporates pure essential oils and herbs into her recipes. Mann’s products also include bug sprays, pet products and body scrubs, all of which are allergenic free. 

Catching the glow of East Tennessee sunlight at this year’s heritage festival will be Melody Holloway’s glasswork creations. She calls her business Klassy Glass and was inspired by the craft after getting a kit and a gift certificate for a class one Christmas. Unfortunately, the classes were cancelled, but that didn’t stop the industrious artist who researched the skill and taught herself. Festival-goers can admire Holloway’s collection of glasswork and take a piece home to enjoy, including wind chimes and sun catchers as well as custom items such as large windowpanes.

The festival will also feature a variety of demonstrations from cooking and crafts to woodworking and masonry. Cooking demonstrations will consist of traditional Southern foods, such as apple butter and cornmeal, and Sam Houston cookbooks and beekeeping will also be on display. Craftsmen will feature examples of basket making and rug hooking, and blacksmiths and wood carvers will show interested visitors about their skill. 

The Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day, Sept. 28-29, takes place on the grounds of the Townsend Visitors Center, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, in Townsend. The event is free and family-oriented. Pets are no longer permitted on the festival grounds, and this will be strictly enforced for the health and safety of both people and pets.

For more information on the Townsend in the Smokies Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day, including updates on the schedule, please call the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority at (800) 525-6834 or (865) 448-6134 or visit smokymountains.org or smokymountainfestivals.org.