I’ve been hearing about Mountain Craft Days for years. My BeFF‘s family has a long-standing joke about how the event doesn’t actually exist, thanks to her mom driving the kids around for hours trying to find it a few years in a row. With that background going through my head, I was sure I’d have trouble finding it, but the signage was excellent and I made it in good time.
I’m gonna interrupt myself here to say how much I missed driving these mountain roads when I was living in Wisconsin! It’s so cool to have your ears popping when driving up and down steep hills—a sensation I’ve until recently only been able to experience in an airplane. What a great aspect of the state!
Back to Craft Days. The main goal of this event is to keep the old crafts alive, to demonstrate how they work, and to (ideally) get the Young Folk involved and keep them going through the generations. And man, are these arts alive! Everything was enjoyable—from the corn and chicken soup to the kettle corn served hot from a 50-gallon copper kettle to the ice cream and maple syrup (yeah … all the food …)—but my favorite parts were the Five Lakes Bobbin Lace Guild, the Broom Maker, and the music group D’Verse.
Five Rivers Bobbin Lace Guild
I didn’t get a picture of the Five Rivers Bobbin Lace-makers because I was too busy talking to them all. Last year, my mom stopped by their tent and tried her hand at making some lace. This year, she knew them all and was introducing me to them since she’s been taking classes in the intervening months. You might think lace making is called “tatting,” which for some lace, it is. But that involves knots, while bobbin lace involves twists. It’s hard to describe, but I loved meeting all the lace-makers, and you can bet I’ll be getting my mom to teach me how to bobbin lace this winter!
When I was little, we would go to Old Bedford Village and learn about old timey crafts, and I always loved the broom shop. I have no idea why, but maybe it had something to do with the broom part itself looking like hair or weaving and thinking it seemed like such an art for something so utilitarian. Nowadays, seeing little kids enjoying the broom shop is less shocking. Of course they’re thinking of Nimbus 2000s and Firebolts! Two little kids even asked the maker to sign their brooms with a Sharpie. I wonder if that’s the first this craftsman has ever been asked to autograph his work.
Much as I enjoyed the rest of Mountain Craft Days, I have to say my favorite part was the music, especially the folk group D’Verse. They had energy and style, and the fact that I am moderately obsessed with folk music certainly helped my enjoyment. From such favorites as “The Irish Rover” to “Whiskey in the Jar,” they sang Irish tunes that were “only the truth, with absolutely no exaggeration whatsoever.”
But my favorite part was when I (sitting in the back and trying to go unseen while wearing the stupid grin on my face I always have when listening to a live fiddle) was clapping along with “Finnegan’s Wake.” The way they perform the song (which is also the way I know it) is with ballady verses that contrast with a jig-like chorus that ends—suddenly and decisively—on the word “wake.” So if you’re clapping along, you stop on the word “wake” and don’t keep clapping. For me, this is common knowledge, but for D’Verse, it was apparently a new thing that someone stopped clapping at the right time. From then on, they made me sit up front and lead the audience in clapping and singing certain bits. I love to blend into the background, so it was very strange for me to be up front like that, but it was enjoyable too and made D’Verse the best part of the day.
I am so glad I finally made it to Mountain Craft Days and will definitely return if I’m in the area next year. It’s shockingly easy to find! (ha)
If You Go
- Admissions fee is $7 for adults, $4 for ages 6–17, and free for under 5.
- Parking is free at the Historical Center and there’s plenty of it. Don’t make the same mistake I did and park in the Buick lot across the street for $5.
- Terrain is dirt paths with tree roots and stones. The website says to contact the Historical Center if you’re not sure about getting around, and they’ll help you out. You might want to take a cane or trekking poles if you’re uncertain on your feet.
- Website is here.
In other news, I took The Cat to the vet this morning and she lost 2 1/2 pounds since last year’s visit. The vet is wholly unconcerned about her weight now. Take THAT, everyone who always comments on how fat my cat is!!