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Heritage Festival offers many hobby demonstrations

Hobbyist: Blacksmith Chuck Averett shows children how he uses antique tools to work with metal at the Piney Woods Heritage Festival at the Crosby Arboretum. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Hobbyist: Blacksmith Chuck Averett shows children how he uses antique tools to work with metal at the Piney Woods Heritage Festival at the Crosby Arboretum.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Many of the activities and hobbies that have been in practice for decades or even centuries are being showcased at the Piney Woods Heritage Festival at the Crosby Arboretum today.
The event started Friday by hosting area schools and providing those children with a look into how things were made so many years ago.
Some of the hobbies on display are blacksmithing, beekeeping and leatherwork.
Chuck Averett is a fourth generation blacksmith. He began his hobby by working in blacksmith shops with his grandfather and father.
Averett said his great grandfather was also a blacksmith, for the United States Army, and his grandfather and father enlisted his help in their shop when he was a child. Since it seemed like work he didn’t really enjoy it at first. But something called him back as an adult, and he is now a member of the Gulf Coast Association of Blacksmiths.
His first trip to the Heritage Festival was as a spectator, and before that visit he didn’t realize others shared his passion for metal work. He is now a demonstrator every year for the event, he said.
Instead of using modern tools, Everett chooses to use the old style of blacksmithing, including a hand operated coal powered fire pit and hand operated grinder.
His previous hobby was woodworking, but he finds working with metal allows his imagination more freedom.
A crane operator by trade, Averett comes to the Heritiage Festival every year in the hopes that he will inspire more people to take interest.
“I hope that us being here will draw more people to the craft,” Averett said.
Beekeeping is also a hobby attendees can learn about. Local hobby beekeeper Buddy Broadway said he likes to teach people about the importance of honeybees, which have a special place in Broadway’s heart.
“I feel like the honey bee is God’s most interesting insect,” Broadway said.
He said honey bees are responsible for pollinating up to 40 percent of the food humans eat, and if people eat locally harvested honey they could possibly find relief from their allergies.
He also said people should not be afraid of bees. The key to dealing with bees is to use smooth, slow movements. Broadway said bees will only sting if they feel threatened.
Also on display is the leatherwork by Sherry Bauer, who has been working with leather for the past six years after an old saddle was donated to her. She said the saddle was given to her by a neighbor, but needed some rejuvenation. She took it upon herself to clean and condition it, which to her surprise brought back the leather’s shine. A second saddle donated to her was in worse shape, and was missing parts. That brought to her to contact a local man who worked with leather. Bauer said the man taught her about leatherwork for the next year, until his passing. After his passing the widow was kind enough to sell her the tools her husband left behind, Bauer said.
The Piney Woods Festival also offers fresh kettle corn and demonstrations on quilting, basket weaving and yarn spinning. It will continue today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.