“Time travel lite” could serve as a theme for an upcoming festival that seeks to offer visitors glimpses into various periods in American history.
Rachel Bennett, who manages visitor services at Rocky Mount State Historic Site, said that guests can learn about various historic eras during the upcoming Timeline and Heritage Festival on Saturday and Sunday, June 15-16, at Rocky Mount State Historic Site in Piney Flats, Tennessee. Events will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Bennett noted that this marks the second year the Timeline and Heritage Festival has been held at the area historic site.
“The timeline will extend from the Revolutionary War era to the present,” Bennett said. From Civil War and Revolutionary War reenactors to World War II doughboys and a local blacksmithing group, various individuals will come together to educate visitors about their respective time periods.
“We will even have a group exhibiting bicycles from the early 1900s,” Bennett said. “If you’re a history lover, this festival just gives more of the history you love, including all the different time periods.”
The event will also feature demonstrations of the art and trade of blacksmithing by members of the Bristol Forge Group.
The group’s president, Bobby Isley, said that members of his group will demonstrate forging and blacksmithing techniques dating from medieval times up to the American Civil War.
Although members of Bristol Forge Group also participated at last year’s Timeline and Heritage Festival, Isley was unable to attend and is looking forward to taking part this year.
“We’re a good group,” Isley explained. The Bristol Forge Group also holds monthly meetings at Rocky Mount at 1 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month.
Isley has been blacksmithing for the past eight years since he was introduced to the process at a demonstration at Rocky Mount.
“This festival at Rocky Mount will cover a lot of avenues of history,” Isley said, adding that members of his group will be setting up several forges.
Group members will also offer their expertise to encourage beginning smiths. “We’re going to have professional smiths will teach and work with beginners,” he said.
He will also be exhibiting an 1862 Civil War blacksmith wagon. “It’s my personal wagon,” Isley said.
During the Civil War, a smith would have accompanied troops to make repairs to rifles and cannons, as well as keep the horses shod.
The role of a smith in a community would have been a crucial one in many bygone eras. “People could not just go to a store and buy certain things,” Isley said. “A smith would have had to make it.”
“A seamstress could not have sewed without a needle or scissors made by a smith,” Isley said. “A smith would have made everything from nails to guns and knifes. Anything made from metal that we might take for granted today would have been made by a smith.”
Smiths also repaired metal tools and implements. “There’s an old saying that a city would not have been built without a smith,” Isley said.
Although the work can be hot and labor-intensive, “it’s not bad if you love it,” according to Isley.
Isley and members of the Bristol Forge Group travel to other events throughout the southeastern United States to demonstrate blacksmithing. “We’ve traveled to North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia,” he said. “We travel all over.”
The Bristol Forge Group is also affiliated with the Appalachian Area Chapter of Blacksmiths.
The Bristol Forge Group’s membership numbers about 50 individuals, many of whom will be present both days of the festival.
“I hope everyone will come out and participate,” Isley said.
Ben DeWitt, education director for Rocky Mount, also hopes to build on attendance. “We had a good turnout of reenactors and speakers last year,” DeWitt said.
This year’s festival offers even more, according to DeWitt, including a group known as the Rogue Privateers, who will educate the public about nautical lore from the late 1600s and early 1700s. “They are bringing some cannons that would have been used in the late 17th and early 18th centuries,” he added.
“It’s shaping up to be a really good event,” DeWitt said.
Other highlights scheduled for this year’s Timeline and Heritage Festival include a presentation by Ted Olson, who will discuss “From the Isles to Appalachia — Tracing the Settlement of the Appalachian Region by Old World Cultures through Ballads, Songs and Tunes,” as well as demonstrations by members of Rogue Universe, which specializes in Recreations of Renaissance and Medieval Costumes. Olson’s talk will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Vicki Alamaroad and Gerrianne Loveland will demonstrate working with flax and felting, respectively.
The Master Gardeners of Sullivan County will present programs on Historic Gardenings.
Representatives with Sabine Hill State Historic Site will demonstrate early 19th century dancing Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Conner Steven Vlietotra will perform Appalachian music Saturday at 2 p.m.
Other local historic attractions sending representatives to participate in the festival include Old Deery Inn, David Crockett State Historic Park, Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site, Bristol’s Birthplace of Country Music Museum and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.
The Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps will perform on Saturday.
Children of the American Revolution, Watauga Chapter, will present period accurate games for children.
Historic reenactment groups and the historical eras they represent that are scheduled to appear include the 82nd Airborne (World War II), Doughboy (World War I), Overmountain Victory Trail Association (Revolutionary War), Rogue Privateers (The Golden Age of Sail: 1660-1720), Washington County Militia (Revolutionary War), First East Tennessee Militia (War of 1812) and the 6th Fallschrimjager Regiment (WWI German).
A sunrise service will be held (Sunday only) at 11 a.m.
For more information on the Bristol Forge Group, call Isley at 423-470-9805 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the festival, including a detailed schedule of events, call Rocky Mount at 1-888-538-1791 or 423-538-7396.
Historic Rocky Mount was established by William Cobb. Actively farmed from 1775 to 1958, it was one of the oldest farms in Tennessee. Rocky Mount State Historic Site’s central focus is on the years following the Revolutionary War when George Washington was president of the United States and had appointed William Blount as Governor of the Southwest Territory. Gov. Blount had taken up residence at Cobb’s log home of Rocky Mount to conduct the business affairs of the new territory.
Rocky Mount is located at 200 Hyder Hill Road, Piney Flats. Tours of the grounds are given Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For admission information and other details, visit www.rockymountmuseum.com.