Momentum is building as the Charles Hall Museum of History & Heritage gears up for its fourth annual Cherohala Skyway Festival, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Charles Hall Museum and its grounds. Admission is free. There will be a $5 per vehicle preferred parking charge.
“Planning and hosting the festival is one of our major events at the museum,” Pam Hall Mathews said, president of the Board of the Charles Hall Museum and event coordinator. “It feels like a big community reunion with invited guests as locals and tourists come together to enjoy the festival and the many collections at the museum.”
This year’s event commemorates Monroe County’s Bicentennial and attendees are encouraged to dress in period clothing.
“If you come dressed for the time period, you will receive a free bag of popcorn at the Charles Hall Museum’s booth,” Mathews said.
A special area at the festival will feature the Monroe County Bicentennial History Zone. History buffs and collectors will display their prized historical items and collections. Individuals, groups, businesses, schools and churches are invited to “show and tell” about their long-standing history in the county. All areas and towns in Monroe County are encouraged to participate. To register for this specialized area, contact Laura Raby Harris at lauraharris@cho tahealth.org. There is no entry fee if no items are sold.
The Josh Graves Memorial Dobro Pickoff
The Cherohala Skyway Festival will also feature some popular bluegrass musicians and groups. Faith Willin (Diane and Perry Brake) will kick off the music at 10 a.m.
The Farm Hands, the No. 1 bluegrass band in the United States and veterans of The Grand Ole Opry, will follow at 11 a.m. This talented foursome has more than 60 national awards and nominations. They are Grammy Award winners, Bluegrass Music’s Entertainers of the Year, hit songwriters and celebrated instrumentalists.
The Farm Hands features Tellico’s own Tim Graves. The Graves Brothers, Tim and his talented brothers Tedd and Mike, will play between sets of The Farms Hands between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Josh Graves Memorial Dobro Pickoff Competition, sponsored by the Monroe County Bicentennial Committee, will be held at 3 p.m. The contest is limited to 10 entries. There is no fee to enter the competition. Tim Graves, dobro player for The Farm Hands, 14-time winner of the Dobro Player of the Year, and the late Josh Graves’ nephew, will moderate the pick-off competition interlaced with human interest stories about “Uncle Josh.”
First, second, third and fourth place prizes, ranging from $100 to $250, will be awarded. To enter, call County Archives Director Jo Stakely at 423-519-0334.
“Love to clog? Bring your clogging shoes and enjoy this heritage dance on the temporary dance floor beside the stage,” Mathews said.
The popular bluegrass band Just Us will also play sets at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on either side of the Josh Graves Memorial Dobro Pickoff.
Sawdust dig and more
In addition to mountain music, there will be a variety of activities to entertain children, including inflatables, face painting, free barrel train rides, a petting zoo and crafts. All ages can also enjoy free horse-drawn wagon rides throughout the day.
New to this year’s festival is the Sawdust Dig, sponsored by Volunteer Federal Bank. Children up to age 11 will be able to dig for treasures — and cash! Participants will be divided into age groups and the pile of sawdust (and prizes) will be re-loaded several times for this event. Digs will be at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
The Cherokee National Forest will host a Smokey the Bear Birthday Bash at 1:30 p.m. at their booth. Stop by for a photo opportunity with Smokey, birthday cake and a special drawing. The Charles Hall Museum of History & Heritage’s area will also have birthday cards for children to color for Smokey, which include a pledge to “help prevent wildfires!”
Reminiscent of the days when Tellico Plains was a logging boom town as the Charles Hall Museum displays some of the area’s earliest logging photographs. The Benton MacKaye Trail Association will be on site to teach the art of using a cross cut saw. Learn how to “pull” a rope and grind corn with Kristy Blankenship, or watch Zack Blankenship grind corn meal with his gas-powered grinder. Nearby, Randall Bear will demonstrate the art of blacksmithing, as well as sell his implements. Other pioneer skills showcased will be weaving and looming, quilting, wood carving, felting and sewing on a treadle sewing machine.
Bring your antique tractor, lawn mower, or small engine to the Charles Hall Field, located behind the museum, by 8:30 a.m. to show off your pride and joy. James Blankenship will oversee this display. There is no entry fee to participate. For more information, call James at 423-519-6009 or 423-261-2924.
Additional living history exhibits will include the Tellico Plains Public Library’s 19th century classroom. Children will be able to sit in a 19th century desk, read from a primer and write on a slate. There will be story times throughout the day. The library will also have a huge book sale, along with a bake sale with lots of homemade goods.
Chota Community Health Services will be inside the living history area with displays of medical care in the 18th century in Monroe County, along with pictorial displays of the first doctors in the county.
Food, crafters galore
Guests will be able to satisfy their appetite with southern specialties, such as the Pork Palace’s pulled pork plates and fried ‘tater bowls. Raby’s Diner, housed in the Volunteer Federal Weiner Wagon, will have many food and drink choices, including Fritos pies with homemade chili. Cristal’s Country Kitchen will be cooking pinto beans over an open fire and serving up a bowl of beans with cornbread, onions and relish. There will also be funnel cakes, caramel apples, cotton candy, popcorn, kettle corn and other fall favorites.
Before the festival kicks off, head over to eat a free breakfast with First Baptist Church of Tellico Plains from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
The festival will also feature crafters and artists who will be displaying many products, from photography, painting, jewelry, leather, ceramics, quilting, needlework, woodwork and more.
Guests will also be able to shop at Tellico Plains Junior High School’s Beta Club’s 19th century General Store, based on the book “Little House in the Big Woods.” The school’s Beta Club recently placed second in the nation in the Living Literature competition at the National Beta Club Convention, which was held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The group was also awarded first place for the National People’s Choice Award for Living Literature.The Charles Hall Museum, a non-profit museum with free admission, will also be open for self-guided tours of both buildings, which showcases thousands of historical artifacts, pictures and documents.
The Tellico Plains Kiwanis Club’s Cherohala Skyway Festival Art Show will be displayed on tables and booths in Building 2. The art show features artwork from Tellico Plains Junior High School and Tellico Plains High School’s art classes. Select pieces from “Family Stories of the Olden Days,” a Monroe County Bicentennial English class project from Tellico Plains High School, will also be read from the stage and the writings will be displayed at the festival.
“Before or after the festival, experience the excellent mountain and river valley views surrounding Tellico Plains by driving the Cherohala Skyway, a national scenic byway and the gateway to the Cherokee National Forest, or by visiting the 90-feet Bald River Falls, during peak fall color season,” Mathews said.
Vendor and sponsorship forms are available online at www.sky way-festival.com. For more information about the festival, visit the website, call 423-253-2111, or email charleshallmuseum@hot mail.com. Updates are available on the 4th Annual Cherohala Skyway Festival event page on Facebook.
The Charles Hall Museum and Cherohala Visitor Center are located at 229 Cherohala Skyway in Tellico Plains.