On Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., a special event will take place in the Alleghany Highlands. Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day, a celebration of the cultures that settled the Alleghany Highlands will feature music, food, demonstrations and games that represent the Irish, Scottish, German, Native American, Black American, Alleghany Highlands Mountain and Hispanic cultures and heritage of the region. Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day will begin with a lively kick-off by Uncle Hamish and the Hooligans, the Scottish rock band that performed at last year’s Heritage Day. People who saw the performance said this band had to come back to the area so they will be performing on Friday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. on stage of the award-winning Masonic Amphitheater.
The celebration continues Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with over 30 artisan demonstrations, displays and presentations, six musical acts throughout the day, games and competitions and a wide variety of food vendors representing Irish, Scottish, Native American, Soul Food, German food complete with a German Beer Garden and baked goods from the House of Douglas Scottish Bakery and the Masonic Marketplace.
The day’s events have expanded so that the Historic Masonic Theater, the Masonic Amphitheater, parts of Church Street and Clifton Forge School of the Arts will “house” the demonstrations, displays, presentations, games, live animals and musical presentations. A display of Alleghany Highlands Mountain Crafts will be sponsored by Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center.
The Masonic Theatre Preservation Foundation received a matching grant in 2013 from the town of Clifton Forge and the Virginia Commission for the Arts that specified funding for a Heritage Event. Grants have also been provided by Alleghany County and Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. In addition, Heritage Day is sponsored by Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center, Clifton Forge Main Street and Clifton Forge School of the Arts. The event-planning committee has planned this event to not only honor the heritage of the settlers, but to include more cultures that have representation in the history and in the current, diverse population of the area.
Entertainment showcased during Heritage Day includes: Native American Dancers, Irish and English Ballads and Songs by Mary Smith & Gregg Kimball, J. B. Williams Gospel Choir from Main Street Baptist Church, Keenan Holt Bagpiper, Cranruach and The Local Bluegrass Boys.
The Genealogical Society will give short presentations on how to research one’s heritage, the Historical Society will have displays and answer questions about the area’s history and the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism will present a program on stage at the Masonic Theatre. Chamber Director, Teresa Hammond commented, “The Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism is pleased to serve as one of the sponsors for Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day again this year. This event is a great opportunity for the community, especially our children, to celebrate our history and to learn more about our heritage. The Chamber will be sharing the PBS Documentary ‘Road Trip Through History Featuring the Alleghany Highlands’ as one of the many activities offered during the festival”.
Mary Smith and Gregg Kimball will present “Clann Mhór – The Builders of the Blue Ridge Tunnel.” Claudius Crozet, was the French engineer who masterminded the Blue Ridge Tunnel. At its completion, in 1858, the tunnel was considered to be one of the engineering wonders of the world. But what of the workers whose hard labor made it possible to dig through a mountain of solid granite with hand drills and black powder? Clann Mhór means “Big Family” and it is the name chosen by a group of archaeological researchers in Charlottesville to describe the Irish and African American workers who accomplished this feat. Over the past several years, much information has been uncovered about the lives of these forgotten heroes. Mary and Gregg will talk about the Clann Mhór project, using pictures and music to illustrate the lives of the workers who dug through the mountain so the railroad could traverse the Blue Ridge.
In addition, The Civil War Trails Initiative, storytelling, “Legends of Alleghany County,” demonstrations and displays of hand crafts that were, and still are popular will be shown at specific times from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The schedule of events can be found on the Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day page on www.historicmasonictheatre.com. Featured demonstrations include blacksmithing, fly tying and casting, felting, pottery, spinning and weaving, beading, stained glass and fused glass, knitting, quilting, decorative painting, doll making and basket making. Workshops for all ages will be presented by Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center and Clifton Forge School of the Arts.
Clifton Forge Mayor Carl Brinkley issued the following invitation, “On behalf of the Clifton Forge Town Council I would like to invite everyone to participate in the 2013 Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day. There’s something of interest to everyone and our children and grandchildren will learn much about the history of their community. We look forward to seeing you on Oct. 4 to celebrate our heritage.”
Admission is free and there will be three entrance points to Heritage Day – the Masonic Theatre, the Church Street Entrance to the Masonic Amphitheater and the Clifton Forge School of the Arts.
For more information on the Historic Masonic Theatre and Masonic Amphitheater, and to see the Heritage Day Schedule of Events, visit www.historicmasonictheatre.com.