06/25/08 — O'Berry plans new festival to explore local heritage

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O'Berry plans new festival to explore local heritage

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 25, 2008 1:48 PM

O'Berry Center is looking for folks willing to take a step back in time this fall.

Planning is under way for the center's first Southern Heritage Festival and Craft Fair, a celebration of traditional arts and crafts, music, food and homesteading that once defined the rural South.

Charles Spiron, one of the organizers, said volunteers are actively recruiting exhibitors and crafters for the free festival, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the center.

The goal is to continue a living history and preserve the techniques and skills that are part of the Southern heritage.

The interactive "educational event" will center around the recreated old log cabin in the pecan grove on the O'Berry campus, Spiron said. The log cabin, expected to be completed and open later this summer, will house Berry Towne Crafts, a group of artisan studios that include pottery, woodworking, soapmaking and other traditional crafts.

O'Berry residents produce the products sold at Berry Towne. Enlisting the help of participants and demonstrators will tie together the historic theme, Spiron said.

"The log cabin will be open well before the festival, but will tie this in for the grand opening of the new Berry Towne Crafts," he said. "But we also have taken such great pains to get the lob cabin so authentic. We will even have a demonstration of log cabin hewning."

The festival's flavor is designed to replicate similar festivals that have been held across the state, such as the Hollerin' Contest at Spivey's Corner or the Fiddlers Convention.

"I think we're trying to be a combination of all these things, a sampling," he said.

"We're looking for people to play banjoes, storytellers -- amateur and professional-- collectors of old farm equipment, machinery and tools commonly used in rural North Carolina, folks to demonstrate traditional skills common in the South -- from butter churning to quilting, preserving foods to shearing sheep, entertainers with a southern flair -- bluegrass, fiddlers, cloggers."

With 10 acres to lay out the festival, Spiron said the hope is to create a landscape of yesteryear.

"We're trying to find a farmer and others to shell corn, shear sheep, do traditional crafts," he said. "We want to have a whole broad range of crafts, furniture-making. Anyone and everyone out there who has a knowledge or interest in that sort of thing, re-enactors, buggy rides, entertainment."

There is no admission charge for the crafters and exhibitors, Spiron noted, or for the public. The only cost, he noted, will be for crafts or food sold at the event.

For information, visit the Web site, www.berrytowne-crafts.com or call 581-4551.