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Unicoi’s Heritage Day takes visitors back in time

Lesia Willis demonstrates how to grind corn with an old-timey machine. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

The Town of Unicoi took a trip back in time last week.

Town officials joined the Unicoi History Group to host their annual Heritage Day and on Friday, Oct. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Bogart-Bowman Cabin. Local school children attended the event on Friday; the event was open to the general public on Saturday.

According to Town of Unicoi Communications and Programs Director Ashely Shelton, the event was a huge success.

“We had 258 students come through on Friday and more than 100 on Saturday,” Shelton said. “Although our numbers did not set our record, which is 300 in one day, 258 is one of the highest one day of attendance that we have seen since we started doing Heritage Day close to a decade ago.”

Shelton acknowledged that there were 13 vendors on Friday, and 12 vendors on Saturday. “Guests were able to tour exhibits that demonstrated blacksmith forging, beehive oven biscuit making, fireside apple butter cooking, quilting, corn shucking and so much more,” Shelton said. 

Heritage Day is designed to celebrate Southern Appalachian heritage and give visitors a glimpse into the daily life of settlers during the 1700-1800s. The students who attended Friday’s Heritage Day presentation were treated to a very special reading of the story of the Overmountain Men by the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.

Shelton said that the event was a hit among the youth of Unicoi County.

“The children loved it,” Shelton said. “I had one little boy come up and hug me and thank me, he was so excited; that child had a blast.”

According to Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch, events like Heritage Day make the town unique.

“We are very proud of our town, and of events like this, that are both fun and educational,” Lynch said.

This was Shelton’s first Heritage Day experience.

“It was so neat. I’ve never been apart of anything like that; it was so much fun,” Shelton said. “There was such a sense of community among the vendors and demonstrators.”

Shelton acknowledged that Heritage Day could not happen if it wasn’t for the vendors and volunteers.

“We are so appreciative of all the volunteers. We had local high school students who volunteered on Friday, and we had community members volunteering on Saturday,” Shelton said. “We really appreciate the demonstrators as well. What makes this all possible is all of our great volunteers.”

The Town of Unicoi and the Town of Unicoi History Group will be focusing on the upcoming annual Veteran’s Day Lunch, which will be held on Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

For more information on upcoming events, please follow the Town of Unicoi on Facebook and on Youtube.