During October 2010 we attended the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival held at Ferrum College, Virginia. The college is at ferrum.edu where a complete list of the activities can be found. We were especially attracted to the car show and the beautifully preserved and restored vehicles.

There were many festival activities we were interested in so we timed our fall-color trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway to coincide with with this festival.

Coon Dog Treeing Contest

A national coon hound competition was held during our visit. This is how it works: A person on the end of the line pulled a coon skin across the grass and up the side of this pole. The hound was released and it promptly picked up the scent and followed it up the tree as far as the dog could climb. The dog then began barking furiously to summon its owner. In real life, the dogs owner would be attracted by the dog's bark and dispatch the coon and the hound would be rewarded. In this contest, the hound that barked the most times in a given time period was declared the winner.

Mule Jumping Contest

In the mule jumping contest, the mule is supposed to leap over the fence from a standing start. This feat began when the mounted coon hunter came to a fence where the pursued animal had passed through. The chase could resume as soon as the mule cleared the obstruction. Some mules were quick to respond to the challenge while others required some gentle persuasion. One must wonder how they kept their mules contained within their enclosure once they were back in their home pasture.

Music at the Folklife Festival

There was a lot of really great music at the Folklife Festival. We were pleased to see two musicians who we knew. The first was Norman Kennedy, a weaver and balladeer from Scotland with whom Elizabeth had taken several classes at John C. Campbell Folk School. Norman was on two sets and we enjoyed his tales and history behind the songs he sang. Secondly, we were happy to see Jimmy Costa again. He is a West Virginia guy who is an excellent fiddle player. We visited him several years ago at his home and admired his outstanding collection of blacksmith items. Elizabeth has been trying to talk him out of a weaving loom once owned by Leah Lewis of Lewisburg, West Virginia, and probably related to the Lewis families in Mason County where we live and have Lewis relatives.

Page created December 6, 2010