“Today’s Friday, I always figure if we can get one good day, I’m thankful. Today’s not it, but they say tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday’s going to be pretty good, so we’re going to be making sorghum, and we’ll probably have good crowds.”
Rachel Collingsworth, who lives up the road, said she comes to the festival every year.
“I like the home-style stuff and I’ve been coming ever since we did this as neighbors 20 years ago,” she said. Collingsworth had purchased some applebutter and was headed to another tent to buy honey and sorghum.
Pam Brophy of Crossville, Tenn., said she was visiting her brother and sister-in-law.
“This just takes me back to my roots, when I was a little girl. We used to go up to Sciotoville and they made sorghum there when I was a child. This just feels like home.”
Larry Thieken has been coming to the festival for about 15 years. He sells swings, gliders, chairs and rocking chairs.
“It’s not the best time of year to sell outdoor furniture, but I make a lot of contacts and come spring, people will contact me and place an order,” he said.
Tom Koch of McDermott rebuilds old violins.
“I go to pawn shops, antique stores and flea markets and buy old violins that are not playable, and then do whatever it takes to repair them, to where they can be played again,” he said.
Years ago, Koch came to the festival as a woodcarver, but arthritis forced him to give that up.
“I’ve always liked to work with wood. I met a guy that showed me how to rebuild fiddles and started doing that,” said Koch, who added this is his first year to be at the festival with his fiddles.
Earl Kirk of Portsmouth joined Koch at his tent.
“We play a little bit of music together,” said Koch, who has been coming to the festival for about 18 years and said he had just finished doing a little dancing.
Alyse Carter of Athens was selling necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
“I just make jewelry with different types of beads … whatever strikes my eye at the time,” she said.
Mary Dettwiler, Simon’s cousin, was handling the sell of pies, which includes apple, cherry, pumpkin, butterscotch … just about any kind of pie you’re looking for, she said.
Among Simon’s special guests for the day were Evelyn Braese, one the last people to see country music star Cowboy Copas alive, and her daughter, Catherine Kmiec.
Braese and her husband, William, were the last to talk with Copas before he died in a 1963 plane crash that took his life and that of Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes. Braese’s story is included in the new book “Cowboy Copas and The Golden Age of Country Music,” written by Simon.
Recalling that event all these years later, Braese said, “I remember them coming in and looking very tied. Randy went in and called Kathy, his wife, and she told him that it was clear in Nashville. We (she and her husband) had all of them come outside and look, and my husband told them that they would run into the thunderstorms.”
Braese said William told them there were three lines of thunderstorms that had moved through.
“We had a little airplane that one of the thunderstorms broke the tie-down and flipped it over and it was lying on its back. We told them there were vicious winds — 50-, 60-, 70-mile gusts — and Randy’s last words were that he would go take a look, and if it looked bad he’d turn around and come back.”
Braese said they were certain the group would come back.
“We even made motel reservations for them, and it came to be about 10 o’clock and they hadn’t come back. We went on home, and I think it was the highway patrol woke us up about 2 o’clock and wanted to tell us the plane had crashed and all were dead.”
Braese said they were devastated by the news, and even now, as she recalls the accident, she said she’s still devastated.
Following the crash, Braese said for several days afterwards she and her husband were constantly interviewed.
“I hadn’t thought about it in several years, until John contacted me about the book,” she said.
Braese’s husband died in August 2008. Now living in Huntsville, Ala., she and her daughter will be at the festival through today.
Other events continuing today and Sunday will be sorghum making, those attending the event can also enjoy homemade pies, sorghum suckers, whittling, grapevine wreath making, farm scenes, homemade soap making, hand quilting and wall hangings, mountain dulcimers and instructions, acoustic string music, blacksmithing, homemade apple cider, pickled corn, basket weaving, chair caning and much more.
DEBORAH DANIELS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234.