Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces the 32nd annual “Festival of Christmas Past” celebration scheduled for Saturday, December 8, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public.

“Festival of Christmas Past” is an annual celebration of the culture of the Smoky Mountains, with an emphasis on the Christmas season. “We’ve been putting on this festival since 1976 and it continues to be one of our most popular activities," said Kent Cave, North District Resource Education Supervisor. "It is a celebration of Christmas and winter in the Smokies. Around Christmas time, people gathered in churches, homes, and schools, and many of them celebrated the holiday through music, storytelling, and crafts. 'Festival of Christmas Past' lets us pause and remember some of these traditions.”
The festival at Sugarlands Visitor Center will include old-time and bluegrass music from the "Lost Mill String Band," "Boogertown Gap" band, and "South of the River Boys." Demonstrations of traditional domestic skills such as the making of baskets, lye soap, quilts, fabrics, and apple butter will be ongoing throughout the day.  Other special programs include:
"Old-fashioned Harp Singing" at 9:30 am in the Sugarlands Visitor Center, led by Bruce Wheeler, Paul Clabo and Martha Graham.
Storytelling by Charles Maynard, reciting stories of the holiday season in the Sugarlands theater at 12:00 p.m.
A visit from Santa Claus at 12:30 p.m. for youngsters and the “young at heart.”
The popular “Stories of the Past” session, presented by the Smoky Mountain Historical Society, at 1:00 p.m. in the visitor center theater.
“Memories Along the Trail,” from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk and provide glimpses of life in the mountains during the holidays of the 1880s-1930s.
Traditional basket weaving workshops presented by Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.  Staff from Arrowmont will provide a morning and afternoon workshop on this traditional craft. Pre-registration required by phoning 865-436-5860.  A nominal charge for the workshop is $25.00 per person, paid in advance.  This is the only activity that requires a fee.
“Local craftspeople and musicians come together to share their ancestral skills with the public during this annual festival. We hope area residents and visitors will come to the Park and enjoy the day, and at the same time learn about the lives and culture of pre-park residents,” said Cave.     For more information about the festival, contact Sugarlands Visitor Center at 865-436-1291.

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