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Forge Day set for Saturday at Crosby Arboretum

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

This Saturday, January 26, the Crosby Arboretum will be celebrating Forge Day, an event that brings together a variety of metalworkers demonstrating their skills. The family event takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and this year will include blacksmith Lyle Wynn of Brandon, Mississippi, a recent competitor on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” series. Lyle is a member and vice-president of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi.

In its eleventh year, Forge Day is a “spin-off” of the blacksmith demonstration that is one of the pioneer skills demonstrated during the Arboretum’s November Piney Woods Heritage Festival. It was noticed the blacksmithing exhibit was always a crowd favorite, and an event featuring metalworkers and their forges was planned for January. This first Forge Day event was well received, and the participating metalworkers agreed to return the following year. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Metalworkers exhibiting at Forge Day are often members of more than one metalworking organization, such as the Mississippi Forge Council, the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association, the Gulf Coast Knifemakers’ Club, or the Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America. Visitors to Saturday’s event who are interested in getting started in metalworking will have the opportunity to talk with the demonstrators about these organizations, where they can learn of meetings and upcoming workshops. .

Many local metalworkers will be at Saturday’s event, such as Larry House from Dragon’s Watch Forge & Foundry, located north of Picayune.  Larry specializes in art metal, including forging, casting, and repousse.  Carriere blacksmith Chuck Averett has been a long-time demonstrator at Forge Day, and stresses the importance of encouraging youth to become involved in metalworking, in order to carry on the tradition.  Chuck has family roots in blacksmithing, stretching back through several generations, and his two sons are also becoming quite accomplished in the craft.  Other demonstrators will include Tom Lowe, president of the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association, and Ed Lott, the organization’s program coordinator.

Make plans to spend the day with us at Forge Day this Saturday!  Lunch will be available from Sho-Nuff barbeque. Warm up by a forge, and watch the demonstrations.

Fire is also used at the Arboretum as a tool for managing our Savanna Exhibit. Certified burn manager Terry Johnson is ready for our fire season. Are you interested in learning more about fire management techniques? There will be occasional opportunities to observe a prescribed fire demonstration on Thursdays and Fridays from around 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in January and February, weather conditions permitting. Call ahead to the Arboretum around 9:00 a.m. on the day you are interested in attending, as burns will only take place when the environmental conditions are favorable. Terry will assess conditions such as wind speed and direction, and humidity, to determine if a burn will be conducted, before applying to the Mississippi Forestry Commission for a burn permit.

Learn the secrets for identifying trees and shrubs in the winter months by their twigs, buds, and bark. Sign up now for the Winter Botany Field Walk this Friday, January 25, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., with MSU Extension Forestry specialist Dr. Glenn Hughes. Dr. Hughes has become a legend in the MSU Extension Service, and will be retiring at the end of this month, so come take advantage of a great opportunity to learn from a true master!  The cost is $3 for members and $5 for non-members.

A children’s program on the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place Saturday, February 9, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Children will build bird feeders to attract birds to their backyards.  Members’ children $2, non-members’ children $4. On Saturday, February 2, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., children will enjoy listening to a story read by Mary Beth Magee from the Poplarville Storytellers Guild. Members’ children free, non-members’ children $2.

A children’s Sunflower Planting Workshop will be held Saturday, February 2, 11:00 a.m. to Noon, with Master Gardener Amy Nichols. “Ms. Flora” will read a story and teach about the parts of a flower, and guide them in making their very own mini-greenhouse to take home. Members’ children $2; non-member children $4.

Call 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs. Reservations are requested. Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian (no charge for adults).

See www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu or visit the Crosby Arboretum Facebook page for more information on programs and activities. We are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 to 4. Leashed pets are welcome. The Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4.