Plenty Of Pioneer
The State's Parks
Marking 75 Years
BY VELMA SOUTHERLAND
It's party time, and you are invited to two -- both at the same venue.
One is a birthday party that is marked every year in the far eastern reaches of Greene County; the other is an anniversary party marking 75 years.
Perhaps Aug. 17 and your annual invitation has escaped your memory.
Each year, the Pioneer Friends of Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park sponsors "Crockett Days Celebration" to mark the birth of David Crockett, a 19th century frontier soldier and politician who is what Mark Halback calls a "true American hero."
Halback is the manager of Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park, which is hosting the three-day event that celebrates this region's "rich cultural history and the life of one of our nation's most famous historical figures," according to a press release about the free event.
Ah, a birthday party, you may be thinking, but what is the other party? Actually, both parties are rolled into one three-day wingding.
STATE PARKS' ANNIVERSARY
This year, Tennessee's state parks are marking their 75th anniversary, and a touring exhibit is making the rounds of all the parks.
The mobile museum was announced by Bob Martineau, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner, and Brock Hill, Deputy Commissioner, on the day the exhibit hit the road last month.
The traveling 75th anniversary exhibit is housed in a golden-yellowish trailer covered with scenes and logos from across the state.
The trailer will arrive at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park on Thursday, Aug. 16, in order to be set up and ready for visitors at the beginning of Crockett Days on Friday, Aug. 17.
That evening, the Crockett Days Celebration kicks into high gear with an evening of storytelling, and the activity continues through Saturday and Sunday.
Over the three-day weekend, the traveling exhibit will be parked in Limestone for everyone to have the opportunity to check out the colorful trailer and the exhibit geared toward educating visitors about "the importance of protecting Tennessee's natural and historical resources, while touching on the state and federal programs that helped bring about our great park system," the government website news.tn.gov states.
Highlighted in the exhibition is information about the long-ago CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and elements of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior.
The exhibit details how many of Tennessee's own state parks were shaped by the efforts of national programs.
Since 1937 and the beginning of the state park system, 54 diverse areas have been designated as state parks.
Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park focuses largely on history and life on the frontier during the pioneer days when this country was still being formed, with Crockett Days being its main event each year.
Halback, who was around for the 50th anniversary of the state parks, states that much of the focus at his park is "what ordinary life was like for the frontiersman."
This year, the opening day of Friday, Aug. 17, falls on the actual birthday of David Crockett.
Halback will be one of the storytellers/historical presenters who will give visitors insight into Crockett's life and what life was like for him and his contemporaries.
Storytelling begins at 6 p.m. on the green behind the Crockett cabin. Halback recommends that people bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for seating.
A few benches will be available in the area, he said.
On Friday evening, Halback will tell the story of David Crockett, the real man, not the man of legend, TV and the Disney movies of the 1950s.
Throughout the twilight, others will also discuss David Crockett, the man; will present information on the Battle of Kings Mountain, the important Revolutionary War conflict in which many men from this area fought; and will present the pure entertainment of storytelling from the pioneer era.
Davy Crockett Days continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Visitors on Saturday and Sunday will be treated to living history reenactors in period dress as they demonstrate skills and crafts of the pioneers: butter-making, spinning, weaving, woodworking, and hide tanning.
Children will have the opportunity to help churn butter, an activity Halback says the youngsters particularly enjoy -- along with tomahawk-throwing. Both will be available on Saturday and Sunday.
An afternoon tea will be held in the cabin both days as reenactors discuss what life was like for women on the frontier, along with women's issues from that era.
POWDER AND FLINTLOCKS
"Keep your powder dry" was a watchword not of frontier ladies who enjoyed the use of female frippery but of the pioneer men to whom dry black powder and their flintlock rifles were the difference between life and death in the wilderness.
Among the demonstrations will be one on black powder and how a flintlock works. A powder charge will be fired, but, for safety's sake, without the ball.
These black powder demonstrations are entertainment for children of all ages who enjoy things that go "boom."
Also planned for the younger generation will be tomahawk-throwing, archery, running with a hoop and other 18th century children's games.
What's a party without music?
Crockett Days will offer a variety of music as the Drum and Fife Corps of the Washington County Militia from Sycamore Shoals State Park will perform.
In addition, throughout Saturday and Sunday, old-time Appalachian-roots music will be performed on the porch of the cabin. Folks are encouraged to drop by and listen a spell.
Halback says that the park is expecting "a crowd in the 1,000 to 1,500 range over the course of the event."
The 75th anniversary of the state's parks is a landmark occasion for the park, Halback states, and he invites everyone to stop by for the celebration -- not just of the Tennessee park system, but the birth date of a man Halback considers "one of the greatest figures from our state and nation's history."
Halback states, "One of the key things we are trying to do is separate the man from the myth. The story of the real David Crockett is far more interesting than the Hollywood or the mythical character in a coonskin cap.
"He was the embodiment of the pioneer spirit -- the values, honesty, courage, self-reliance, loving father and statesman."
Hours for Crockett Days are 6 p.m. to dusk Friday, Aug. 17; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19.
Admission is free.
Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park is located at 1245 Davy Crockett Park Road, Limestone.