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Great Smoky Mountains National Park to celebrate 37th annual Festival of Christmas Past

By Jeaneane Payne

Sugarlands Visitor Center is the place and Saturday, December 8th, is the date for Great Smoky Mountains National Park's 37th annual Festival of Christmas Past. From 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. this free event will feature old-time mountain music, harp singing, old-time crafts demonstrations, and a Christmas Memories Walk.

  lost mill string band
The Lost Mill String Band will perform at Festival of Christmas Past.

Festival of Christmas Past is an annual celebration of the culture of the Smoky Mountains, with an emphasis on the Christmas season. "Around Christmas time, people gathered in churches, homes, and schools and many of them celebrated the holiday through music, storytelling, and crafts. Festival of Christmas Past allows us to pause and remember some of these traditions," said Kent Cave, North District Resource Education Supervisor.

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.

A Christmas Memories Walk will be held at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm to teach visitors about the spirit of the season in these mountains in the time period from the 1880s to 1930s. "The Memories Walk always gets everyone in the Christmas spirit," said Cave. "Our wonderful volunteers portray some colorful characters that you might have found in a mountain community. We have a great time developing these skits each year."

The full schedule of events for the day includes:
• 9:30 am - Old-fashioned Harp Singing led by Bruce Wheeler, Paul Clabo and Martha Graham
• 11:00 am– Old Time Music with Lost Mill String Band
• 12:00 pm- Stories of the Past panel discussion, presented by the Smoky Mountain Historical Society
• 1:00 pm – Old Time Music with the South of the River Boys
• 2:00 pm – Old Time Music with Boogertown Gap Band
• 3:00 pm – Old Time Christmas with Tony Thomas and Judy Carson
• 11:00 am -12:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm - "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.

"Local craftspeople and musicians come together to share their ancestral skills with the public during this annual festival. We invite the public to participate in the day's activities and learn about winter life and work in the Great Smoky Mountains," said Cave.

Published November 28, 2012

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