By Lauren Hooks
Mars Hill – Did you miss the story in last week’s paper about the annual Bascom Lamar Festival commenced on an Autumn, October Saturday (Oct 5). The festival celebrates the local community, businesses, and Appalachian history of Madison County.
People come from surrounding counties to enjoy the festivities. This year, the festival hosted many tables and tents for local artists. Basket weaver Jenatte Miller showcased a large variety of her baskets for sale. She took a basket weaving class at AB Tech and has now been basket weaving with friends for 16 years.
Caroline Rice was another artist in attendance, bringing with her a multitude of cloths embroidered with Swedish weave. For Kristine Nordmeyer, a local photographer of nature and “anything that does not speak,” the festival marked the first event where her artwork, photography and jewelry, was sold.
Local businesses, mainly from the surrounding area brought foods and goods to sell, such as ornaments made of beeswax, local honey, goat cheese, and gluten-free desserts. Also in attendance were Appalachian organizations. Mountain Piecemakers Quilt Guild is an institution of people who enjoy quilting and also desire to help veterans. They meet once a month and create quilts to give to veterans. Currently, there are 80 people in the guild! During the festival, they raffled off one of their beautiful quilts to fundraise money to help make more quilts! Another organization in attendance was the Appalachian Barn Alliance. This organization works to photograph, and thus preserve barns of Appalachia. They believe the constructions of these barns are historic and essential to preserving the story of Appalachia.
The Daughters of the American Revolution was also in attendance, an organization that is solely comprised of people who can draw their lineage to the men who fought in the Revolutionary War. They offer scholarships and conduct volunteer work with veterans. Madison County 4-H also appeared at the festival. The Mountain Laurel 4-H Club worked to make apple butter and taught people how to stir the pot (of apple butter that is).
The festival also included entertainment aspects, like the installation of fairy hair and painting for children.The Southern Heritage band played live music on the Mars Hill University upper quad. The festival also offered Fiddle, Banjo, Guitar, Dulcimer, and Shaped Note Workshops. Ballad Swaps and a community dance were also available to those in attendance.
The festival is named for Bascom Lamar Lunsford (March 21, 1882 – September 4, 1973) who was, according to Wikipedia, “a lawyer, folklorist, and performer of traditional (folk and country) music from the area. He was often known by the nickname ‘Minstrel of the Appalachians.’