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Making Music and Molasses

Sunday, October 08, 2006 | 07:00pm

Relaxing Activities Offered at Ag Museum Festival Oct. 21, 22

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Because things like making sorghum, shelling corn by hand, and churning butter just can’t be rushed, the pace will be relaxed for many activities at the 2006 Music and Molasses Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21 and 22, at Nashville’s Ellington Agricultural Center.

And, if the success of past festivals is any indication, that suits visitors just fine.

Oh, sure, there’ll be plenty of lively bluegrass music — and even some clogging — on several stages throughout the center grounds.  But even for those offerings, festival-goers can just relax, listen, and enjoy.

The festival opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday and closes at 4 p.m. each day.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 5-12, and free for those 4 and under.

Regardless of age, visitors will find more to see and do at this year’s festival, themed “Country Comes to Town.”  Expansion of space and attractions, organizers say, will help make it the biggest and best yet.

“We’ll have three acres of fall activities,” promises Anne Dale, director of the Tennessee Agricultural Museum, which is operated by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and stages the annual fundraising event.  “Besides traditional crafts, old-time activities, music, and molasses-making, the weekend fun also includes one-of-a-kind items for sale — from handmade jewelry and sun dazzlers to cashmere shawls.”

Co-chairs Laura Upton of Murfreesboro and Susan Pewitt of White Bluff point to more activities for children and a large number of first-time arts and crafts exhibitors as examples of how this year’s festival has grown.

“Our popular ‘Farmer for a Day’ program for children will have several new attractions,”  Upton says, listing things like painting child-size models of a farmhouse and barn, gathering “eggs,” and competing in hog-calling contests.

Grown-up visitors, meanwhile, will want to spend ample time at the Museum Market, which debuts this year, offering a variety of items for sale — from heirloom garden seeds to Music and Molasses T-shirts.

“With the addition of a grassy area in front of the show barn, we have more room for displays and activities,” says Pewitt.  This is where some 15 tents will be pitched for the festival’s 1860s living history encampment, and border collies will showcase their herding skills.

Of all the activities at the festival, none draws more attention than the molasses-making demonstration given throughout both days by the Mark Guenther family of Overton County.  The Guenthers will also sell their molasses, along with home-baked cookies and cakes.

From stained glass stepping stones and garden benches made by David Brown and Tony Eden to hand-engraved earrings and belt buckles by Darrel Thornbery, works of art will be displayed and sold by dozens of talented craftspeople. 

Gifted musicians will be everywhere during the festival, too, appearing on stages in the Country Hollow and Log Cabin areas and at the gazebo.  The Tennessee Scotsmen, a group of Nashville-area musicians playing bagpipes, will perform throughout the crowd.

Plenty of good food will be available, including barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, beans and cornbread, homemade ice cream, country ham and biscuits, grilled chicken, fried pies, red beans and rice, and even emu/ostrich burgers.

Ellington Agricultural Center is at the end of Hogan Road, which runs off Franklin Road (Highway 31) in south Nashville.  For more information, call the ag museum at (615) 837-5197.

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