16th Annual Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site

The 16th annual Sorghum Festival was held at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site on Saturday, September 17.

The 16th annual Sorghum Festival was held at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site in Johnson City, Tennessee on Saturday, September 17.

Hey, y’all! Welcome to Sweet Sorghum Living–a place to sit a spell with a good cup of coffee and enjoy good conversation about everything from gluten-free goodies to home renovation projects. Today on the blog, we are chatting about the 16th annual Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site in Johnson City + meeting Mr. C.B. Reese and finding out his connection to the Sorghum Festival.

Mr. C.B. Reese was the honored guest at this year's Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes.

Mr. C.B. Reese was the honored guest and celebrity at this year’s Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes.

Now, without further ado (because it has been crazy busy in the art studio the past few weeks, and there’s been no time to sit a spell), let’s take a look at some highlight photos from the festival.

Tools of the blacksmith

Tools of the blacksmith

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Mike Rose, master blacksmith, has been metalsmithing for over 40 years.

Mike Rose, Master Blacksmith, has been metalsmithing for over 40 years.

During the festival, Mike Rose created a dinner bell in the shape of an apple. In this photo, he is working on the leaf of the apple.

During the festival, Mike Rose created a dinner bell in the shape of an apple. In this photo, he is working on the leaf of the apple.

The finished leaf crafted by Mike Rose.

The finished leaf crafted by Mike Rose.

Apple dinner bell by Mike Rose

Apple dinner bell by Mike Rose. To learn more about the success and talent of Mike Rose, click here.

The hubby and I had a wonderful time watching Mike Rose, Master Blacksmith at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge for 25 years, create a dinner bell in the shape of an apple.

The hubby and I had a wonderful time watching Mike Rose, Master Blacksmith at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge for 25 years, create a dinner bell in the shape of an apple.

Cooking corn cakes in the kitchen at Tipton-Haynes.

Cooking corn cakes also known as sweet cakes in the kitchen at Tipton-Haynes.

These corn cakes are sweetened using sorghum molasses. The mission of the kitchen demonstration was to show how much work preparing a meal was back in the day + to help people appreciate their food by understanding the history behind it.

These corn cakes are sweetened using sorghum molasses. The mission of the kitchen demonstration was to show how much work preparing a meal was back in the day + to help people appreciate their food by understanding the history behind it.

Visitors to the festival sat a spell and enjoyed the music.

Visitors to the festival sat a spell and enjoyed the music.

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One of the stars of the Sorghum Festival

One of the stars of the Sorghum Festival

Working the mill

Working the mill and keeping the past alive

Generations ago, producing sorghum molasses was not an easy job. In fact, it was very labor intensive! After harvesting the sorghum cane (which means cutting the cane down by hand), each plant was topped (seed heads cut off by hand and saved for next year's crop). Once the seeds were saved, the leaves were stripped and the canes were fed through the mill--which is what the next few photos show.

Generations ago, producing sorghum molasses was not an easy job. In fact, it was very labor intensive! After harvesting the sorghum cane (which means cutting the cane down by hand), each plant was topped (seed heads cut off by hand), and the seeds saved for next year’s crop. Once the seeds were saved, the leaves were stripped, and the canes were fed through the mill–which is what the next few photos show.

Feeding the cane into the mill while the mules turn the mill.

Feeding the cane into the mill while the mule turns the mill.

In the photo, history is being preserved by teaching the traditional ways of making sorghum molasses.

In this photo, history is being preserved by teaching the traditional ways of making sorghum molasses.

The sorghum mill being used at Tipton-Haynes was donated by C.B. Reese from Vilas, North Carolina.

The sorghum mill being used at Tipton-Haynes was donated by C.B. Reese from Vilas, North Carolina.

This mill belonged to C.B. Reese's grandfather, and it is over 125 years old. The Reese's Mill has been the star of the Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes since 1999.

This mill belonged to C.B. Reese’s grandfather, and it is over 125 years old. The Reese’s Mill has been the star of the Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes since 1999.

Chatting with Mr. C.B. Reese (to my left) and Mike McKinney, the mule man from Carter County, about the mill that belonged to Mr. C.B.'s granddaddy.

Chatting with Mr. C.B. Reese (to my left) and Mike McKinney, the mule man from Carter County, about the mill that belonged to Mr. C.B.’s granddaddy.

It was an honor meeting and talking with Mr. C.B. at the 16th Annual Sorghum Festival. In this photo, I am chatting with him and Mike McKinney about the history of the mill. (Jeff Greene, the mule whisperer, is in the background.)

It was an honor meeting and talking with Mr. C.B. at the 16th annual Sorghum Festival. In this photo, I am chatting with him and Mike McKinney about the history of the mill. (Jeff Greene, the mule whisperer, is in the background.)

C.B. Reese, born in 1922, pictured with a jar of sorghum molasses. It is amazing--almost unbelievable--how the world has changed since he was born. The hubby and I had the opportunity to hear about those changes first hand from Mr. C.B. Honestly, I could sit a spell with Mr. C.B. all day for a week!!

C.B. Reese, born in 1922, pictured with a jar of sorghum molasses. It is amazing–almost unbelievable–how the world has changed since he was born. The hubby and I had the opportunity to hear about some of those changes first hand from Mr. C.B. **Honestly, I could sit a spell with Mr. C.B. all day for a week!!**

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Oscar Wagner (left) with C.B. Reese waiting to chat with WCYB about the importance of the Sorghum Festival.

Oscar Wagner stated that not only does the Sorghum Festival demonstrate the traditional ways, it also shows how much hard work goes into producing food in hopes that people will appreciate their food more.

Oscar Wagner stated that not only does the Sorghum Festival demonstrate the traditional ways, it also shows how much hard work goes into producing food in hopes that people will appreciate their food more. Mr. Wagner also joked that it was a heck of an excuse for a party! **I am totally in for a sorghum party!**

After the canes have been squeezed, the juice is taken to be boiled down into syrup.

After the canes have been squeezed, the juice is taken to be boiled down into syrup.

The juice must be monitored closely and skimmed constantly in order to produce the sweetest and best syrup.

The juice must be monitored closely and skimmed constantly in order to produce the sweetest and best syrup.

Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we chatted about the 16th annual Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site with special guest C.B. Reese. Now, before y’all dash off, take a look at a few more photos from the festival.

C.B. Reese standing in front of his grandaddy's mill. Mr. Reese was tickled to be at the festival seeing his family's beloved mill in action.

C.B. Reese, 94 years old, standing in front of his grandaddy’s mill. Mr. Reese was tickled to be at the festival seeing his family’s beloved mill in action.

Waiting for the WCYB interview

Waiting for the WCYB interview

**photo bomb**

**photo bomb**

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Because every party needs cute bunting!

Because every party needs cute bunting!

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Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site

One of the stars of the Sorghum Festival

One of the stars of the Sorghum Festival

Hey, y’all! Welcome to Sweet Sorghum Living–a place to sit a spell with a good cup of coffee and enjoy good conversation about everything from gluten-free goodies to handmade goodness. Today on the blog, I am sharing my photos from the Sorghum Festival at the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site in Johnson City, Tennessee. Y’all know I couldn’t resist a Sorghum Festival *wink* Oh, my! It was an absolutely gorgeous day filled with the sweet smell of sugary syrup, and it was a day that brought back many sweet childhood memories *big smile*

As I walked around the grounds with the hubby, my mind was filled with memories from days gone by. I remembered Grandmother Fulcher in her kitchen frying the chicken that a couple of hours ago was running around in her yard. I remembered Grandaddy Fulcher sitting on the porch swing smoking his pipe. I remembered “hog-killing” day–which was always the coldest day of winter. I remembered riding in the horse-drawn wagon while my dad pulled corn from the stalks and how I always managed to get cockleburs in my hair.

I grew up on a small farm in Mississippi–in a community called Ellison Ridge, which had a small general store (which had everything from Coca Cola in a glass bottle to sewing supplies) and a Southern Baptist church (which used to be the community school). My house was separated from my grandparents’ house by a rolling pasture and a dirt road. I made the trip from my house to their house multiple times daily. I knew my grandmother would have biscuits for me to snack on (my favorite snack was a biscuit with sugar on the inside). I knew my granddaddy would take me on an adventure and tell me stories. Times were simple, and life was good.

Because I grew up in a small community in the middle-of-nowhere Mississippi, I had no friends. All I had were my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, and a few scattered neighbors (which were only accessible by an extremely difficult bike ride on a dirt road with patches of treacherous gravel). Well, to a youngster, who had fallen off her bike more times than she could count, it was a treacherous trek.

So, I used my imagination to create a world filled with adventure. I spent countless hours listening to my uncle’s tall tales and my granddaddy’s stories about uncle so-and-so and cousin so-and-so–and those uncles and cousins always had nicknames like Rat and Boots. Hmmm, I am not sure, if I ever heard their real names spoken. From all of this, I learned how to listen, how to tell stories, and how to communicate through various art forms.

Wider shot of the extraction process

I didn’t realize it at the time; however, all of the stories, adventures, and hard work I witnessed would create the person I am today–the person who values hard work, who loves the land, who respects all creatures and persons…the list could go on. As a child, I thought life on the farm was good–it wasn’t until I started school I learned not everyone felt the same about living on a farm. Because of my less-than-desriable school years, I suppressed my young days on the farm–not wanting to remember the taunts of classmates and teachers. Now, as I have gotten older, I realize those days were good days, and I shouldn’t have to hide my roots because of a few shallow folks from town.

Work it *wink*

Work it *wink*

It was nice to walk the grounds of Tipton-Haynes and remember times I spent with my grandparents. As I stood there watching the mule go around and around, I could feel the warmth of their hugs, and I could almost taste my grandmother’s biscuits.

I just had to snap a photo of Sweet Sorghum for Sweet Sorghum!

I just had to snap a photo of Sweet Sorghum for Sweet Sorghum!

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Live music at the Sorghum Festival

Live music at the Sorghum Festival

Historical characters were at the festival chatting about days gone by.

Historical characters were at the festival chatting about days gone by.

It was an absolutely sweet and delightful day at the Sorghum Festival at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site. It was a great reminder of my childhood days on the farm and of the fruits of hard work.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on some of my favorites from my visit to Tipton-Haynes. If y’all are ever in the area, it is a must-visit place *big smile*

Old grist mill stones greet visitors as soon as they arrive to Tipton-Haynes.

Old grist mill stones greet visitors as soon as they arrive to Tipton-Haynes.

This blog os dedicated to my dad--a man who taught me the value of working hard and respecting the land.

This blog is dedicated to my dad–a man who taught me the value of working hard and respecting the land.