The promise of freshly-made apple butter drew my wife and me to the Townsend Fall Heritage Festival on Saturday. As we drove along Lamar Alexander Parkway, I told her about the last time I drove to the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. I had misread the entrance sign and turned into the wrong driveway. The next thing I knew, I was driving along a bike path for about a hundred yards to get to the paved parking lot.
Sure enough, I made the same mistake, turning into the wrong driveway again. However this time, I drove over the grass to a field where they were parking cars. At the entrance to the Heritage Center, they were charging $5 admission. I was sure that I had read in The Daily Times that admission would be free but we paid and went in.
When I asked about the apple butter demonstration, they had no idea what I was talking about. I pulled out my smart phone and searched for The Daily Times article. That’s when I realized my mistake. My wife and I were at the Blue Ribbon Country Fair at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. We wanted to be at the Townsend Fall Heritage Festival, which was down the street at the Townsend Visitors Center. The staff graciously returned our $10 and pointed us in the right direction.
When we got to the other festival, we noticed that the majority of people were carrying, holding or playing musical instruments. Jam sessions were taking place all over, including in the parking lot and under pop-up tents. There was also a stage with musicians and cloggers.
Amidst the musicians, we found the apple butter tent. They had finished cooking for the day but happily sold us a jar of still-warm apple butter. Around back, there were booths selling typical fair food and country-themed arts and crafts. My wife and I bypassed the funnel cakes and pork barbeque in favor of bison burgers being sold from a trailer that still had its Boomsday permit in the window.
The Appalachian Bear Rescue booth had lots of great information, including an unusual display of scat. I don’t recall ever seeing bear droppings before. Then again, I’ve never followed the proverbial bear into the woods.