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Forge Day offers chance to learn about metalworking in its various forms

Forges were at full blast and the smell of molten metal drifted through the air as participants came to the Crosby Arboretum’s annual Forge Day, held Jan. 30.

The event looked a little different this year with interested parties required to register ahead of time to limit the number of attendees per session.

However, even with the pandemic ongoing and the restrictions in place, plenty of people still showed up to learn about metalworking and all of its different uses.

William Zarske has only been blacksmithing for about two years.

Inspired to take up the trade because of Youtube videos, the young blacksmith was happy to show attendees some old school methods.

“I just have that interest to try something. There are old techniques I want to learn, want to preserve. I want to show what people used to do and how the industrial centers of America were built. I just want to show how people used to live back then and why it can still be enjoyed and done today,” Zarske said.

Chris Bankovic and his son Daniel were at their first Forge Day learning about the different techniques and tools.

Daniel said watching the heated metal be morphed and contorted into useful tools is what made the experience so captivating.

“I thought it was interesting. It’s big chunks of metal being heated up and changing physical shape, and it’s just so cool. It takes a lot of heat to change it, and not only does it look interesting, but how hot it gets to make it that way (is crazy),” Daniel said.

Larry House from Dragon’s Watch Forge and Foundry in Picayune has been going to Forge Day at the Arboretum for over a decade.

An experienced blacksmith, House said the event serves as an opportunity for people to go back to their roots.

In a world where everything is industrialized and produced on a mass scale, House said Forge Day helps onlookers understand how things are created at the local level.

“Everybody is familiar with what they can buy at Home Depot or what they can buy at the Lowes store, but that’s the only place where people really think about where things come from. You drive your car every day and have no idea that (parts of it) have been forged. It’s all still made by heating metal and shaping it with tools. They’ve lost touch with where they come from. This gives them the opportunity to see hands on the simplest, most basic forms of forging metal that evolved to all those things,” House said.