In a time-honored area tradition, Exchange Place Living History Farm will once again celebrate spring and the planting season with its annual Spring Garden Fair. Turning 34 this year, the oldest garden fair in our region will be held on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday, April 29, from noon until 5 p.m., at the 1850s farmstead located at 4812 Orebank Road in Kingsport.
Eagerly anticipated by area gardeners — from beginners to experts – the Fair will feature thousands of plants for sale, from old favorites to rare and hard-to-find varieties. Growers will offer perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs, with an emphasis on herbs, natives and heirloom plants, including a wide assortment of heirloom tomatoes. Gardening experts will be available throughout the weekend to share their knowledge about plant selection and care, and folk and yard artisans will also be found throughout the farmstead with unique plant and garden-related arts and crafts.
True to its mission, Exchange Place will offer slices of 19th century life in almost every corner. Over on the Roseland side, the Burow Museum will be eagerly welcoming visitors, while just a few feet away, in an area between the Museum and the barn, our sheep will be getting their hair cut! Historically known as shearing the sheep, this will take place on Saturday, April 28, between 11 am and 3 pm. The Overmountain Weavers Guild will then take that wool and continue their long “Sheep to Shawl” tradition of carding (cleaning, separating and straightening) the wool, spinning it into yarn and weaving that yarn into scarves and, perhaps, other beautiful and wearable items.
A new component this year will be a Fiber Fair, to be held on the back porch of Roseland. Textile artisans skilled in spinning, weaving and wool felting will on hand to demonstrate their skills and offer hands-on instruction to anyone interested in having a go at these venerable arts.
Across the road on the historic farm side of Exchange Place, the hearth kitchen will be filled with wonderful aromas supplied by the Eden’s Ridge Hearth Cookery Society, while our Junior Apprentices will be seen in a variety of places, including the kitchen and the garden, performing their chores and offering insights about how life was lived on an antebellum Northeast Tennessee farm. And the blacksmith’s shop will be active all weekend as our very own Catherine Shook will be demonstrating the importance of a blacksmith in the years before the Industrial Revolution.
A wide variety of hands-on children’s activities will be found all around the grounds, and young’uns will certainly want to say hello to our resident animals, including Delilah (our cow), Jenny (our donkey), and our three horses, plus our sheep and pigs.
Two other popular features of the Garden Fair will be back again. Retired World Champion Whimmy Diddler Will Hines of Greeneville will be on hand to direct the 9th Annual Edens Ridge Whimmy Diddle Competition at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Open to all ages, Mr. Hines and others will be under the main tent, just a few yards away from the Preston House, starting at 2 p.m., to offer valuable pointers and practice time prior to the contest. And there is a reward, as the winners will receive trophies made by local woodworker Gary Albertson! Meanwhile, the joyous Maypole decoration and dance will take place at 2 pm on Sunday. Brought to this country by our European ancestors, it is a traditional and colorful celebration of spring.
As always, music will fill the air during the Spring Garden Fair, as an overabundance of local talent is scheduled to perform throughout the weekend. A complete schedule will be posted on the music tent and the front gate each day. And don’t worry, if you get hungry or thirsty, baked goods, lunch, drinks and snacks (including the ever-popular funnel cakes and kettle corn!) will be available.
The Spring Garden Fair strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible with recycling, composting, and re-using. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own plant carriers and to bring used nursery pots for recycling/reusing.
Admission is $5 for adults and is free for children under the age of 12. Proceeds from the event helps keep our animals fed and with the restoration and upkeep of the site, which is proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Exchange Place is a non-profit, volunteer-run living history farm, educational facility and regional attraction that seeks to preserve, protect, interpret, and manage the history, heritage, and artifacts pertaining to mid-19th century farm life in Northeast Tennessee. For more information, please call
423-288-6071, or visit our website: www.exchangeplace.info.