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The Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Festival will span three days, two main venues in two states and four local communities, as the National Park Service celebrates its most-visited park.
The main events will be staged in and around Cumberland Knob Recreation Area in North Carolina (milepost 217) — where parkway construction began on Sept. 11, 1935 — and the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia (milepost 213).
The Sept. 10-12 festival will include a formal ceremony featuring local, state, and federal officials; regional music and crafts; antique exhibits; interpretive and environmental programs and much more.
The surrounding communities of Fancy Gap, Galax, Hillsville and Independence are planning plenty of other family fun activities.
All activities are free.
The festivities begin Friday at 11 a.m. with a formal ceremony at Cumberland Knob, followed by a 4 p.m. concert by bluegrass virtuoso Sierra Hull & Highway 111 at the music center.
Saturday at 10 a.m., Cumberland Knob will host a 9/11 Remembrance with Rev. Dan Matthews. Other activities there on Saturday include the one-woman play “They Call Me Aunt Orlean” at 2 p.m.
The major celebration, a 7 p.m. concert by bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys, will be held at the music center.
The activities continue Sunday, with an 11 a.m. workshop with shape note singer Laura Boosinger and a noon performance by The Churchmen, both at the music center.; and a 1 p.m. performance by the Jack Tale Players of Ferrum College at Cumberland Knob.
Ongoing activities at Cumberland Knob and the Blue Ridge Music Center on all three days include luthier (instrument maker) demonstrations, history discussions, community showcase, storytelling, films, nature walks, historic construction equipment exhibit, Junior Appalachian Musicians program,
Appalachian craft demonstrations, “Tastes of the Blue Ridge” and Tailgate Market, kids' activities, music jamming tents, 75th anniversary commemorative artwork by T. Pennington and P. Buckley Moss, hundreds of birthday cards by elementary students on exhibit, flat foot dance workshop, commemorative and community quilts on display and an exhibit of antique cars and campers.
Activities for kids and families at Cumberland Knob and the Blue Ridge Music Center will be led by National Park Service rangers, with assistance from partners and other volunteers.
Families will be able to participate in interpretive, hands-on programs:
• Building A Road — Parkway designers built a picturesque, pastoral and sublime road when they created the Blue Ridge Parkway. Look at how the road has changed over the years and then create your own vision of a scenic parkway.
• What’s Your Name? — In the 1820s, the Cherokee Indian Sequoyah developed a written alphabet for the Cherokee language. Learn how to write your name using his syllabary.
• Warm and Pretty — Try your hand at quilting, a long-time Appalachian tradition, and learn about naturally dyed yarns.
• Time Out for Toys — In the old days, children made toys from materials they had on hand. Try some old-time toys and games and make your own to take home.
• Memories of Blue Ridge Parkway at 75 — Become a Junior Ranger and keep a journal of everything you do and learn during the anniversary festival.
Blue Ridge Music Center
Family activities include:
• Who Lives Here? — Learn about the diverse environments along the parkway and the many different animal habitats protected by this scenic byway.
• Geology Rocks — The Blue Ridge Mountains are some of the oldest in the world. Learn about how they were created, as well as the types of rocks and minerals you can find in the region.
• What Grows Here? — With more species of plants growing along the Blue Ridge Parkway than in any other national park, learn about some of them and take home seeds to plant in your own backyard.
• Keeping It Clean — Many streams originate along the crest of the parkway. Learn where water pollution comes from and what you can do to help keep our water clean.
• Memories of Blue Ridge Parkway at 75 –- Become a Junior Ranger and keep a journal of everything you do and learn during the anniversary festival.
In addition to these programs, there will be a variety of storytelling sessions, as well as performances of traditional Jack Tales by Ferrum College students. These folk tales originated with English and Scottish immigrants who brought them to the Blue Ridge when they settled in the region.
• For more information about all these events, visit www.blueridgeparkway75.org.