Crosby Arboretum this weekend: Piney Woods Heritage Festival and a Mushroom Walk!

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By Pat Drackett

One of the Crosby Arboretum’s most popular annual events, the Piney Woods Heritage Festival, will be held this Saturday from 10:00 2:00 p.m.  Celebrating its 21st year, this event will bring together an assemblage of demonstrations and exhibits that showcase traditional crafts and practices reflecting 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 the public could learn about cultural and historical traditions that are rapidly disappearing along with a shift over the past few decades from rural to urban lifestyles.

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By observing hands-on demonstrations of “old-timey” traditions at the Arboretum’s Heritage Festival, such as the blacksmithing demonstration that will be conducted by Jared Kattengell, president of the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association, or pine needle basket-making with Denine Jones, festival attendees will be able to get an idea of the skills behind these once critically important trades.

In “pioneer days”, being resourceful was a necessity. Imagine a time when children’s toys were not able to be “store bought”, and instead were fashioned from materials available to early settlers. In his spare time, a father might sit by the fire carving toys for his children from local woods, perhaps a wagon, a wheeled sheep, or a horse for a toddler to pull.

Dolls were crafted from corn husks or rags.  Rugs were woven or crocheted from rags, quilts were fashioned from scraps of cloth, and durable baskets were crafted from white oak splits. Candle making, soap making, weaving, and quilting were some of the talents a pioneer woman might possess, in addition to the skills of vegetable gardening, cooking, and sewing.

Children will enjoy the exhibits and demonstrations of traditional skills such as wood crafts by Scott Duplantis, blacksmithing with Jared Kattengell of Katt Forge, and demonstrations by weavers, spinners, exhibits on native Mississippi plant dyes, artifacts and history, an exhibit by the Carver Cultural Center and Museum, and more. Vendors’ wares will include jams, jellies, baked goods, woodworks, and charcuterie boxes and lemonade from Praize and Graze.

Myra Smith will have a booth again this year with her delicious homemade jams, jellies, and baked goods.  Many of you will be familiar with Bob Rouse from our past festivals, as he has exhibited his Pineywoods cattle at the festival many times.  These are one of the oldest cattle breeds in the United States and were descended from Spanish cattle that were brought to the country in the 1500s.  Bob will also have an exhibit about the history of timbering in southern Mississippi, with historical family photos, artifacts from the turpentine industry, and a model of a Lindsey eight-wheeled log wagon, patented in 1889 and manufactured by the Lindsey Wagon Company of Laurel, Mississippi.

Make plans to attend the Piney Woods Heritage Festival this Saturday.  Scout and homeschool groups are welcome!  Admission is free for Arboretum members. Non-members adults $6, children 12 & younger $3. Scout and homeschool groups welcome!  Live music and dance performances will take place on the Pinecote Pavilion throughout the event, including music by Hazel and the Delta Ramblers who will be kicking things off at 10:00 a.m.  The Ramblers have played at many past heritage festivals. A Native American dance performance begins at Noon, and the Piney Woods Cloggers will perform at 1:00 p.m.

The Extension Service is a great resource for research-based publications that cover “old timey” topics such as home canning or making jellies and preserves. Search by keyword on the Extension website at to view or download publications such as “The Complete Guide to Home Canning” (Publication No. 1152), or “Pickles, Relishes, Jellies, Jams, and Preserves” (Publication No. 220).  For information about growing home fruits and vegetables, just search by keyword to access these publications as well.

On Sunday, November 5, join Dr. Logan Wiedenfeld, president of the Gulf South Mycological Society and Assistant Professor of English, Alcorn State University, for a guided Mushroom Field Walk of the Arboretum grounds on Sunday, November 5, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Learn about fungi’s fascinating ecology, taxonomy, and relationship to mankind. Come dressed for the outdoors. A knife, gloves, basket or bag are helpful to have, but not necessary. Members $4; non-members $8. Registration required.

The Crosby Arboretum is located off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road. The office is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (last admission at 4:00 p.m.). Leashed pets are always welcome on our three miles of walking trails.