Monday, May 13, 2019

The Appalachian Festival: A Look Back

The Cincinnati Appalachian Festival is over for another year. This year marked the festival's 50th anniversary, and I was glad to be part of the celebration.

The festival offers something for everyone: woodcarvers, weavers, farm animals, coal and forestry exhibits, games for children, artisans of every kind, lots of good music, dancing, Appalachian region Native American and Civil War encampments, food of every kind and of course, Storytelling.

The weather was not what it could have been: it was cold, and often drizzly and overcast. But that did not deter the crowds who came to celebrate both the festival's anniversary and Mother's Day. For many families the festival is an annual Mother's day tradition and many took advantage of the dinner and brunch offered for the holiday.

 I was there to tell stories, and I had a great time. I told tall tales and family stories, ghost stories and historical tales and sang ballads to an ever-changing audience.

In between my sets I wandered around to see everything I could see. I ran into George Brosi, a seller of Appalachian books, and it was so good to see him again. Fred Powers was there to tell stories of a coal miner,

and Steven Hollen was presenting a variety of characters, from an advice-giving charlatan to a fast-talking politician and more. Steven teamed up with his friend, storyteller Paul Ingham to do a hilarious rendition of Goldilocks using the oddest facemask I've ever seen.

It was a great time, and we hated to say goodbye to Sue Cox, the organizer of the storytelling tent.We took the slightly longer way home so we could travel along the Ohio River, a quieter road than the recommended route, with a lot less traffic.

The route took us through the small town of Ripley, Ohio, where we stopped for a bite at Snappers, the local pub.

This door is no longer used, but it's a sharp reminder of the town's heyday as a tobacco market and auction town. It's nostalgic for me, as we used to grow tobacco and my guys had Pride in Tobacco hats.

We had the best time there--the locals made us as welcome as could be, and between stories and laughter an hour os so passed very quickly. I said something about when I was a girl (meaning when I was young) and the pub owner said, "So when did you have your gender re-assignment?" I was speechless for a moment before I figured out what he meant! So funny.

The owner told us he used to be a professional turtle hunter, hunting the big snappers that lived in the creeks that emptied into the river. I told him about a huge mud turtle I once saw on our road. I had stopped to look at the turtle,who seemed kind of annoyed at having to walk across the road. I pulled right up beside him and rolled down the window, and talked to him. Something like "What are you doing out here, big boy?" I can't remember exactly what I said but evidently the turtle didn't like it because he reared up and literally rammed my car so hard he made a dent in the door! You can believe I rolled up the window in a hurry, telling the turtle, "Well if you're going to be that way!"

So that's the story I told the pub owner, and when I finished, he looked at my husband and asked, "Where did you find her?!" I guess he didn't believe my story!

We heard about local history, an old h,ouse where odd things happen, about a ferry across the river we didn't know about and much more. One of the funniest moments happened when the plumber, who was working on one of the restrooms, brought in a new toilet and left it near the bar. Of course there were comments about that--how convenient, etc. Lots more laughter ensued.

We left regretfully, still laughing, but we still had a long drive ahead of us and it would soon be dark. But we will surely go back to visit this friendly little town. This was our second visit there (click here to see photos of our first visit) and I think a third one just might happen this summer. The stop was a strong reminder that stories--and storytelling--can happen anywhere.

We came home to a chilly house, as we'd left the windows open, so we hustled to get them closed and a stove or two turned on. Bedtime came early, and wake-up time this morning was late. But what a good weekend it was, full of stories and friends, both old and new.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Brig said...

It sounds like an interesting and wonderful time. Thanks for sharing. I love little towns and their characters.

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