Crowds flock to cornshucking frolic
by Tom Joyce Staff Reporter
PINNACLE — Maybe it was an excuse to get outside or perhaps the opportunity to explore old-time farming ways, but whatever the reason people showed up in droves Saturday at Horne Creek Living Historical Farm.
The occasion was the 22nd annual Cornshucking Frolic at the state historic site, which folks from near and far managed to find despite the farm being tucked away in a remote corner of Pinnacle.
“Everybody thinks a cornshucking festival isn’t fun, but it is,” said Taylor Shannon, 17, a senior patrol leader of a Boy Scout troop from Apex which attended Saturday’s event. He specifically mentioned the “good food and the bluegrass” to be found there.
Others with the troop said they had come to the farm at Shannon’s urging, as he was a regular visitor to the frolic several years ago and knew what it had to offer. “It’s taken me a couple of years to convince them,” he said of his fellow scouters.
Although there was a threat of rain for the duration of the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. event, vehicles had filled up the main parking lot at Horne Creek by early afternoon, and were strewn along the gravel road leading in to the former Hauser family farm site.
The more intrepid of those who ditched their cars in outlying lots were then left to hike the rest of the way in, while others relied on a shuttle service provided by the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. (YVEDDI) transportation service.
“I’ve heard that they’re still backed up all the way to Hauser Road waiting to get in,” Ricky Jessup, a longtime interpreter at the site specializing in agricultural demonstrations of yesteryear, said shortly after noon.
“So we’re real pleased,” added Jessup, wearing overalls and a wide-brimmed hat that gave him the appearance of a 1900-era farmer.
Attendance was expected to level out at between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
Once they made it through the front gate and down to the old farmhouse, attendees filled the surrounding hillside, some seated at tables to eat chicken stew cooked in huge black pots nearby or eat ice cream made the old-fashioned way.
Others took up positions near a stage, perched in lawn chairs or on bales of hay laid out for the occasion, to listen to top bluegrass groups such as Lou Reid & Carolina, along with traditional performers including the Mountain Park Old-Time Band.
A crash course on vintage farming methods was available as well.
This included tobacco curing, an old-time apple dryhouse, cornmeal grinding, molasses making, chair caning and many others.
Meanwhile, woman in period clothing, including a bonnet, sat at the back porch of the farmhouse churning butter, while others inside were busy making fried apple pies or sewing on an antique machine.
Visitors also could view farm animals and demonstrations of long-ago trades such as blacksmithing, and experience storytelling.
At least 60 adult and children volunteers helped stage the cornshucking frolic, along with staff members of Horne Creek Living Historical Farm.
Aside from the educational aspects, Saturday’s gathering was rooted in a longtime tradition of members of rural communities coming together for some task — such as cornshucking — then socializing and entertaining themselves after the work was done.
One of the centers of attention Saturday was the corncrib at the farm, where children immersed themselves in the activity for which the cornshucking frolic is named, with shelling and grinding also conducted there.
Colten Williams, 2, of Winston-Salem, was one of those reveling in a sea of unshucked ears.
“He likes the cornshucking, ‘cause he can sort of go wild,” said Ryan Williams, Colten’s father, who watched nearby.
Although the Williams family lives in Winston-Salem, Ryan pointed out that both he and his wife grew up in the country.
The event at the farm, which they were attending for the second year, represents a chance for them to experience “the way it used to be” in a safe, quiet and fun setting, Williams said.
“We enjoy coming out here.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.
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