Arboretum Paths: Piney Woods Festival this Saturday

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Blacksmith Chuck Averett will demonstrate his craft at the Piney Woods Heritage Festival on Saturday. Photo by Pat Drackett

Blacksmith Chuck Averett will demonstrate his craft at the Piney Woods Heritage Festival on Saturday.
Photo by Pat Drackett

One of the Crosby Arboretum’s most popular events, the Piney Woods Heritage Festival, will return this weekend. In its 14th year, the event brings together many fascinating demonstrations and exhibits showcasing traditional crafts and practices that reflect the history and culture of the Piney Woods Region.
The Arboretum’s first Heritage Festival was established with the goal of creating a community event where people could learn about the region’s traditions which are rapidly disappearing along with a shift from rural to urban lifestyles.
The festival will include storytelling by Miss Chocolate, a local history exhibit with Don Wicks, and a beekeeping exhibit by Jac Coleman. Old-time and bluegrass performances on Saturday will include the Jordan River Band, Hazel and the Delta Ramblers, and the Pearl Strings Dulcimer Group.
Chuck Averett, a member of the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association, will demonstrate forging iron on an authentic 1860’s forge. Chuck continues the tradition of a family of ferriers, having started as a child, holding the horses while his father forged their horseshoes. He is dedicated to keeping the tradition alive, and to inspire others to learn the time-honored craft.
In “pioneer days”, being resourceful was a necessity. Knowing how to preserve food, and to cultivate a successful vegetable garden were critically important to supporting a family. Cooking, spinning, weaving, and sewing were valuable skills for a woman in charge of a household to master.
People living in these times knew how to “recycle”. Rags were woven or crocheted into rugs, and quilts were fashioned from scraps of cloth. Such talents are reflected in the beautiful quilts displayed by the Picayune Piecemakers Quilt Guild. The members will be offering many smaller handmade items for sale. EvaJoan Henderson from the Dyed-in-the Wool Weavers and Spinners Guild will also be providing a spinning demonstration.
In “olden days”, resourceful pioneers used natural materials to create durable baskets, such as crafting splits of white oak into baskets of all sizes to carry items. Stone County Extension Agent Judy Breland will demonstrate basket-making with longleaf pine needles.
Pearl River County Extension Agent Dawn Vosbein will have an exhibit on home canning and food preservation. Myra Smith’s booth will feature her delicious homemade jams, jellies, and baked goods.
Pearl River County resident Bob Rouse will exhibit Pineywoods cattle. One of the oldest cattle breeds in the U.S., they are descended from Spanish cattle brought to the country in the 1500s. Bob will also have an exhibit on the history of timbering in southern Mississippi, with historical family photos and artifacts from the turpentine industry.
Woodcarving will be demonstrated by John Houston, accompanied by members of his wood carving group from the Senior Center of South Pearl River County. Will Sullivan will be a “pond ornament” in our Piney Woods Pond, giving a demonstration of fly fishing.
Exhibits on local wildlife will be included, with Jessica Eaves from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, and a Mississippi snake exhibit by Nathan Davis.
Members of the Greater Picayune Arts Council will include Harriet Greulich, Lucille Gaseki, Beverly Elston, Nancy Crowe, and Jamie MacDonald, who will provide demonstrations that include doll-making, puppetry, and the crowd-pleasing craft of butter churning, thanks to a kind donation of cream from the family-owned Country Girl’s Creamery, located in Pearl River County.
The public is invited to visit on Saturday, November 19 to enjoy these traditional demonstrations (adults $5, children $2). On Friday’s school field day, small homeschool groups do not need to pre-register. For more information, visit the website at or call 601-799-2311.
The Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road.

By Patricia R. Drackett
Pat is the director of the Crosby Arboreteum and
assistant extension professor of landscape architecture with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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