Record number of area blacksmiths and metalworkers to demonstrate at Crosby Arboretum’s 16th annual Forge Day

Published 10:13 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

Please join us this Saturday, January 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Forge Day at the Arboretum, a unique festival experience that has taken place at The Crosby Arboretum since 2009.  The event was inspired by blacksmith Terrell Pickett from Lumberton, whose demonstration at Piney Woods Heritage Festival the previous year had stolen the show.  Although fall and spring events abound in our region, very few take place in January, when there is usually nice weather for forging activities. This Saturday, close to twenty craftsmen will be demonstrating their skills, displaying their work, and teaching about their craft.

The festival continues to draw skilled blacksmiths, metalworkers, and artisans, such as world-renowned knife maker, Seth Borries from Gautier, Mississippi, the Season Six Champion of The History Channel’s “Forged in Fire”.  This will be Seth’s first Forge Day.  He has been crafting custom knives since 2015, studying under world-renowned knife maker Paul LeBatard from Vancleave.  Seth’s custom creations include everything from tomahawks to full-sized swords, and from bowie, camp, caping, and skinning knives.  He is a member of the Gulf States Knife Makers Association.

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Paul LeBatard, the grandson of a blacksmith, crafted his first knife when he was 12 years old and is now a master knife maker.  Retired from the Chevron Refinery, he creates quality blades in his custom-built home workshop and has created close to 3,000 knives, with each given its own serial number.  Paul crafts all types of knives and is a founding member of the Gulf States Knife Makers Association and an award-winning member of the Knife Makers Guild.

Retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, Sid Gale makes whimsical art figures from scrap tools and other discarded materials such as spoons, handles, rakes, and shovels. He sees art where others may see junk. “Your imagination is the only limitation”, he says. Currently, Sid is focusing on quality decorative ironwork and is a member of the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association.

Chuck Averett has family roots stretching back generations in the craft of blacksmithing, so it was only natural that at age thirty he bought his first forge and anvil and set out and learn this time-honored art. Meeting a local accomplished artist-blacksmith led to him joining the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association and meeting many talented smiths in the area.  Forge work, tools and household items from the colonial era are one of Chuck’s passions.

Local Picayune blacksmith Larry House from Dragon’s Watch Forge & Foundry specializes in art metal, including forging, casting, and repousse, and has demonstrated at the Louisiana Renaissance Fair in Hammond, Louisiana for many years, and many other fairs and art shows across the country.  Retired Air Force with 24 years of service, Larry trained before active duty to be a metal worker, a passion held since childhood.  He has continued to study and learn different techniques of manipulating metal and has attended numerous classes and seminars nationwide.

Ed Lott has always been fascinated with edged weapons.  He says, “When I saw the blacksmiths at Forge Day, I knew I had to join the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association”.  Now the President of the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association (GCBA), Ed has demonstrated at various Forge Days throughout the years and is also a member of the Louisiana Metalsmiths Association and the Mississippi Forge Counsel.  He enjoys working with others in the forge and sharing what he knows.  Ed says while he will never be a Master Blacksmith, he will always be learning.

Jared Kattengell has been blacksmithing for about eight years, and mainly does small ornamental work.  He has always been fascinated by metalworking and the beautiful creations born from fire.  Jared’s first forge was a soup can, using charcoal made from pallet wood for fuel.  Now he has a dedicated shop for his craft, and believes anyone can start, no matter how modest their first flame and hammer.  A past vice president and president of GCBA, Jared is also a member of the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA).  He has learned much of his craft through these organizations and enjoys passing on his skills to others.

One of the attractions of Forge Day is that many demonstrators will allow the public to try their hand at the forge, including youth.  A signed waiver is required before doing forge work, and safety equipment will be provided.

The Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission taken at 4:00 p.m.) and located in Picayune at I-59 Exit 4, 370 Ridge Road.  Call 601-799-2311 for more information or visit