A Blast with the Past: East Tennessee History Fair 2014

Sharing costumes with kids - just for fun

Everyone loves wearing a costume at the East Tennessee History Fair

With the upcoming East Tennessee History Fair coming up August 15, 2015, we are reposting this blog that was originally published in 2014.  For a listing of all the activities (and there are many), be sure to check the East Tennessee History Fair website here for times and events.  Then head downtown for book signings, reenactors, Friends of the Knox County Library Book Sale, children’s activities, dog costume contest, activities at the Tennessee Theatre.  Or hop on a bus and tour historic homes.  At World’s Fair Park, watch Vintage Baseball as it once was played.  So much to do at the History Fair!!

If the term “jam-packed” ever defined a one-day festival, it would be most appropriate at the Eighth Annual East Tennessee History Fair sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society on August 16th! And you might wonder if anyone in our modern tech age would be interested.  But with record numbers in attendance (probably beating last year’s 13,000) and a grand slate of events, there was no way any one person could see it all . . .  but thousands tried. We hung out mainly in Krutch Park in the center of downtown Knoxville since there were reenactors, authors, and history groups galore.  And our position had a little to do with the proximity right next to the food trucks and Market Square Farmers Market, famous in its own right!  (See bottom of this post for a listing of other events that day.)

East Tennessee Historical Society, sponsor of the East Tennessee History Fair

East Tennessee Historical Society, sponsor of the East Tennessee History Fair

Krutch Park was a-buzz with all the history folks.  Like the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable offering special commemorative items.  Since the Civil War Sesquicentennial is just around the corner, they know folks are watching web sites for updates so they can “do it up right.” They were happy to fill us in on what’ll be happening in East Tennessee.

Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth at East Tennessee History Fair

Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth at East Tennessee History Fair

You could find commemorative mugs and license plats at the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth.

Commemorative mugs and license plates at the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth.

Authors like Gordon T. Belt sat under tents and autographed books. Some even posed for pictures and told why they did all that research and published a book.  (No small feat, of course.)

Gordon T. Belt

Author of John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero, Gordon T. Belt, takes a break from autographing copies.

In another booth, Laura Still described her Knoxville Walking Tours.  You can have your choice of packaged tours — Civil War, Ghosts, Early Years, Gunslingers, Literary Heritage — and more.  And if you take one of the 90-minute jaunts, you’ll learn a little Knoxville history and add steps to your FitBit, too!

Laura Still of Knoxville Walking Tours

Laura Still of Knoxville Walking Tours

But most impressive (especially in the summer heat) were the many reenactors in the Living History Timeline representing Colonial days to WWII.  Several, like Kelly Ford in an authentic WWI uniform, told how he made everything using remnants from original clothing.

We were especially honored to meet Abe and Mary Lincoln (Tom and Susan Wright) and their son Tad (grandson Kyle Wright) behind The Holston.

Tom & Sue Wright with grandson Kyle Wright pose as Mary, Tad, and Abe Lincoln

Tom & Sue Wright with grandson Kyle Wright pose as Mary, Tad, and Abe Lincoln

Near the side entrance to the East Tennessee Historical Society Museum, onlookers were fascinated that a blacksmith (Bill Rose) was plying his trade and sharing his techniques right on a city street . . .

Mike Rose demonstrates blacksmithing techniques in Krutch Park

Mike Rose demonstrates blacksmithing techniques in Krutch Park

while some young festival attendees fashioned dolls out of cloth scraps with the help of volunteer seamstresses — much as children would have done in days gone by.

A representative from The Society of Civil War Surgeons portrayed Col. Bill Walker as he shared how surgeries were performed using many of the instruments he had carefully displayed. (See those silver prongs?  They had something to do with “bustin’ up” kidney stones, but I wince even as I post this!)

Col. Bill Walker, Civil War Surgeon

Col. Bill Walker, Civil War Surgeon

David Dinwiddie shared the story and pictures of his great great uncle William Dinwiddie, a Knoxville policeman fatally shot by the infamous outlaw Kid Curry in 1902. The constable hat?  Yep, authentic.  Owned by William Dinwiddie and well preserved, don’t you think?

David Dinwiddie portrays a 1902 constable with original hat worn by great great uncle William Dinwiddie

David Dinwiddie portrays a 1902 constable with original hat worn by great great uncle William Dinwiddie

In another tent, long-time friend Bill Alexander charmed us as only he can do with his poetry and “gen-u-wine” mountain humor.  Dubbed the Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack’s, Bill makes mountain berry baskets and writes poetry, much of which he recites when he performs for crowds who appreciate a true Appalachian humorist and lover of “the good life.”

Bill Alexander, Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack's

Bill Alexander, Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack’s

Talented folks inside the East Tennessee History Center shared their knowledge and crafts  — like Dale Liles and Carolyn Rogers  – the art of spinning; Anne Freels  – how to make cornhusk dolls; and Edward Bardill and others who moved handmade miniature soldiers to replicate the Battle of Campbell’s Station.

By all accounts, the East Tennessee History Fair was one for . . . well, the history books:  record crowd, long list of events, and kids (and grownups) listening while those in the know shared what they came to share.  Better check this one out next year.  It really is a Blast from the Past.

Jeremy Hall, Union soldier, shows Zoe his Civil War firearm.

Jeremy Hall, Union soldier, shows Zoe his Civil War firearm.

Other events in the East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair:

  • Free admission to the Museum of East Tennessee History
  • Davy Crockett’s Birthday celebration
  • “History Hound” Dog Costume Contest
  • WDVX Radio & Clayton Country Music Stage
  • Friends of the Library Book Sale
  • Meet the Authors & Book Signing (Gordon T. Belt, Natalie Sweet, Martha Wiley, Jack Neely, Bill Landry)
  • Raku Pottery activity
  • Living History Timeline
  • Demonstrating Artists
  • Historic Home Tours
  • Civil War Bus Tour
  • Tennessee Theatre Tours
  • Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia and Office Tours
  • Vintage Base Ball Doubleheader
  • East Tennesseans on Film (Bijou Theatre)
  • Civil War Commemoration Event
  • Live Music

For more information:

East Tennessee Historical Society:

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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26 Responses to A Blast with the Past: East Tennessee History Fair 2014

  1. Great photos! Looks like such a fun and educational event. Bill looks like quite a colourful character. I bet his poetry was a great success. I think the surgical instrument display would have made me shudder. 😯

    • You are so right! The surgical instruments still disturb me. I can’t imagine how anyone endured the pain of “medication”!!! Thanks for the comment. It was indeed a wonderful event for those who attended and for the city.

  2. Amy says:

    Great way to know the place and connect it with the history!

  3. That’s a great trip back in time and you actually kind of feel as if you’re reliving the events as they happened!

    I love history and culture. Loved the costumes!

    It’s also very important to pass it on to the new generations, they have to know how fortunate they are to live in these modern times but yet respect the past 🙂

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    I’m with James what a collection of characters! The walking tours look right up my alley. I always think these are so great as one gets some exercise while learning about a place. Gives on a real sense of a place.

  5. Rusha, what a group of wonderful characters! Talk about the perfect way to get kids (and adults) interested in history. It’s great that the reenactors portrayed such a diverse group of people. And I’m with you, those silver prongs for “bustin’ up” kidney stones make me wince, too. 🙂 ~Terri

    • You’re so right, Terri. It’s a great way to introduce young people to history. Colorful characters and hands-on activities bring history to life. The Civil War surgical tools should be submitted to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Creepy!!! Hmm. Now that’s an idea!

  6. It’s been a long time since my last fancy dress party and the pics seem out of a Disney movie. Love the way you have captured the essence of these people and the place. Wonderful!

  7. Pingback: Eighth Annual East Tennessee History Fair | SRW & Associates

  8. That sounds like so much fun! 😀

    • Rusha Sams says:

      It was, Linda. We weren’t sure what to expect, but seeing so many people interested in history or dressed up like someone from a certain time period just made us want to see more and more and more. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  9. freebutfun says:

    That would have been fun! The timeline sounds and looks amazing

    • Rusha Sams says:

      The whole festival was well-planned and quite enjoyable. I can picture a committee working well in advance to ensure its success. Thanks for reading and leaving me a note. Much appreciated!

  10. I would have enjoyed being there. Two of the things I love are history and fairs. Fun blog, thanks. –Curt

    • Rusha Sams says:

      Thanks for the nice comment. I, too, wish I could travel the U.S. and visiting all the festivals. Usually good food as well as fun. Since we can’t, reading others’ accounts will have to do!

  11. suej says:

    A blast from the past, alright!

  12. susanissima says:

    How fun! Learning so much via your upbeat posts!

  13. Rusha Sams says:

    I’ll bet you have really good ones there. This one was quality, but I’ve never been to another one, so I can’t compare. But we are fortunate that so many people are interested in historical events in our area. The sesquicentennial should be fabulous. By the way, thank you so much for following my blog. Great to meet you!

  14. sunsetdragon says:

    Oh this had to be so much fun and we love going to the Civil War fair, or re enactments over in Eastern Washington.

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