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'Tis the Season In Great Smoky Mountains National Park


It's time for Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Christmas festival.

It's not Walton's Mountain, and John Boy and the Soggy Bottom Boys probably will not be there, but if you enjoy an old-fashioned Appalachian Mountains Christmas festival, mark December 13 on your calendar.

For the 33rd consecutive year Great Smoky Mountains National Park will stage its "Festival of Christmas Past" that day at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinsburg, Tennessee. The festival is an annual celebration of the culture of the Great Smoky Mountains, with an emphasis on that special time of year, Christmas.

“Mountain people worked hard all year, and looked forward to the religious significance of Christmas and the chance for social interaction in the various communities,” said Park Ranger Kent Cave. “These folk gathered in churches, homes, and schools during the holidays, while also meeting others along roads and trails in the mountains. The holidays allowed people to combine religion, work, and social interaction in the mountain communities."

The festival, which is free to all, will feature a blend of mountain music, storytelling, crafts, and skills demonstrations ongoing throughout the day. The event schedule includes the following activities:

Sugarlands Visitor Center Theater

* 9:30 am - 11:00 am - Old Fashioned Harp Singing

* 11:15 am - 12:00 pm - Lost Mill String Band

* 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - Storytelling with Cuz and Jan Headrick

* 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Stories of the Past (panel discussion with area residents)

* 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm - Bill Proffitt and South of the River Boys

* 3:00 - 4:00 pm - Boogertown Gap Band

Other activities in and around the visitor center

* “When the Park Was New” (portrayal of first park superintendent J. Ross Eakin by park staff - 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm

* Recitation of "The Night Before Christmas" by Morgan Briggs - 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

* Blacksmithing with master blacksmith Clayton Sharp

* Domestic Arts and Fabric Spinning with Dale Liles and Jenny Bennett

* Quilting and Weaving with Effie Suttles and Ellen Ogle

* Mountain Basket weaving with Connie and Mack Clabo

* Broom Making with David Higgins

* Mountain Berry Baskets with Bill Alexander

* Lye Soap Making with Sallie Swor

* Fabric Dyeing with Park Ranger Lisa Free

* Christmas Craft Table with Vicki and Liza Law

* Traditional Pine Cone Bird Feeders with Sherry Jennette and Sydney Frey

For more information, please phone the Sugarlands Visitor Center at 865-436-1291.

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