Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blue Ridge Folklife Festival.

On Saturday, me and my parents (and a family friend) went to the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, which is held every year at Ferrum College. I love stuff like this anyway, and my dad had got me even more excited about it because he's wanted to go for years but this was the first time he had been.

It was so much fun! They have scheduled events all during the day: demonstrations of old crafts, mule jumps, horse pulls, coon dog races and treeing contests, etc. And there was constantly music playing, because there are four stage areas with bluegrass music, gospel bluegrass, and storytelling.

We spent most of the day in the "farm museum" area, where there are all these beautiful historically accurate buildings, though we did wander across the road to the campus side for a little while.

I was in yarn heaven, you guys. :) It's been really convenient that just around the time I started getting interested in spinning and dyeing, I've had a couple of chances to go places where these things are being done.

There was a booth set up where a couple of women were naturally dyeing yarn in pots over wood fires. They also had some yarn examples hanging up with labels showing what they were dyed with. Aren't the colors gorgeous? I especially love the two on the left: the first one was dyed with sumac (which we have an abundance of on our farm) and the next one with pokeberry (which is also very common around here).

That's more pokeberry dyeing in the pot on the right.

There was also someone at that booth spinning on a wheel and a drop spindle. {You see those baskets of pretty yarn on the table? One skein of a pretty grey came home with me, hopefully to be made into a Miss Marple scarf.}

Later on in the day, we went to the college's fitness center where they had crafts set up. This lady, who teaches spinning, was using her spinning wheel. I talked to her for quite a while and asked some questions, and she showed me how to use a drop spindle. Of course, Youtube videos are helpful, but there's something even better about seeing someone spin in person. It helped things click, I think. {Yesterday I practiced with my spindle more and figured out that part of my problem was that I wasn't drafting out the fiber enough, which is why my "yarn" was so thick and wasn't holding twist. Anyway, I finally got some thinner yarn after practicing a bit more!} She also gave me some websites to buy fiber and recommendations on what sort of fiber are best for beginners.

Though we heard snatches of music all day, we stopped once to listen to a band that is based in my hometown. They recently won a competition for being the best bluegrass group in the state (and the banjo player is a history professor at the community college I attended). They were really good!

Walking through, we saw some sheep herding. We also saw a bit of the show featuring Gracie, a mischievous mule who can do all sorts of tricks. This is her playing basketball. :)

It was cool and cloudy all day, but thankfully it didn't rain on us at all while we were there. A lot of the leaves have fell lately with the rain and wind, but there were still some really pretty trees in the area.

We saw most of the horse pull. If you're like me and didn't really know what this was, it's an event where teams of huge draft horses compete to see who can pull the most weight.

They start off with the metal sled below, which weighs a ton, with a bit of added weight (those concrete blocks inside). I think they started off with about 2500 pounds? When we left, they had worked their way up to 5500 pounds, and I heard someone say later that some of the lighter teams had stopped at 6500 but others were going to keep going.

It's amazing how these strong horses are.

We caught the very end of the coon dog race across the pond. A zip line drags something raccoon-scented (no real raccoon required) across and the dog that reaches it at the other side first wins. The one in the orange collar below barked and howled excitedly all the way across. :)

We missed the antique car show. We were going to walk through on our way out, but nearly all of the cars had already left. We did get to see a couple of gorgeous 1940 vehicles up close in another area.

It was a lovely day. There was a lot of walking and standing, so I came home fairly exhausted, smelling like wood smoke and funnel cakes (me and Dad split one). A strange but comforting combination. :) Days like this make me feel so thankful to be born in such a neat place.

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. So glad you all had a great time! I hope we can all go one year. Thanks for sharing.



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