Spring Planting 2021

Spring, a time for new beginnings and growth. For many mountain families it was also a time to begin their planting of crops, vegetable gardens and livestock production. It was this production that sustained the family through the rest of the year.

The early families who settled the Big South Fork area depended on their ability to successfully raise animals, crops, and gardens to feed themselves. Most of the farming that occurred here was truly subsistence farming. The family often consumed the entire production of the garden. There was continued use of wild plant and animal foods, but the “kitchen garden” was vital to a sustainable food supply. This tradition continues with many families even today. It is not uncommon for local residents to have large gardens that provide a substantial amount of food.

Along with planning for their gardens and crops, families had a number of annual spring “chores” that were performed — spring cleaning and airing out of the house and bed linens, repairing paling fences, livestock care and animal husbandry, and mending and making clothing for the spring and summer seasons. Various crafts and forgotten arts of today were skills of yesterday — skills needed for survival in the area we now call the Big South Fork, Cumberland Mountains, or Appalachia.

During the festival, crafter’s demonstrate forgotten arts, such as blacksmithing, basket making, hand spinning, weaving, woodcarving, chair caning, soap making, garden herb lore and use, and paling fence making.

In addition, there will be children’s activities, interpretative talks, fun runs, bird watching and wildflower guided walks, vendors demonstrating and selling their wares, and food sales.

There are displays of women’s life, antique farm tools, farm animals and old-time toys which will delight young and old alike.

Toe-tapping tunes of mountain music are performed throughout the area by various groups such as the Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club.

Of special interest is the plowing and planting with mules and horses which takes place at the Lora Blevins field. Other demonstrations will take place at the Oscar Blevins Farm Site as well.


This year we will be staffing a booth to promote the use of amateur radio as a hobby and for emergency communications. We will also be operating a VHF and HF station making both local and DX contacts. If all goes as planned we will activate W4BSF as a Parks On The Air (POTA) station. 


Setup Bill, Nancy and Kelly Lloyd will be complete by 08:30 Eastern

Lee/Dinah and Diane/Glen will be staffing the booth when they arrive. Kelly will try to stop back by later after work.

We have requested a spot to the right of the visitors center which backs up to a set of restrooms. We should have 110-volt power available and I will bring extension cords to get us where we need to setup at. The plan is to start the setup process around 7:00am so we can be ready by 8:00am. We will have a 10×10 pop up canopy with a table for the radios and a couple of chairs for the station operators. The club banner will be displayed and we will have post cards that we can give out to anybody interested in learning more. A sign up sheet will be available if they want to subscribe to ‘The Modulator’ newsletter. We will NOT be selling anything or taking any money during the festival. Prospective members should be encouraged to attend the May 8th meeting and check out the BSFARC.com web site or Facebook page for more information. I am attempting to flatten the learning curve for POTA (Parks On The Air) which would give us some HF traffic throughout the day. The plan is also to have the 145.350 repeater available for both a talk in and demonstrating local communications. We should emphasize emergency preparedness especially within the park by using HTs and local repeaters. The Dark Sky 50 race will be the following weekend where we provide all of their communications between aid-stations.

I will bring all the necessary radio gear including antennas for both HF and VHF operation. We will be operating under the call sign of W4BSF for this event. We will designate a control operator and will switch out as required. Ideally the control operator will be a general class or higher which allows for 3rd party traffic to be conducted (or unlicensed people to talk on the radio in the presence of the control operator). Please adhere to all FCC rules and best operating practices.


  • What should I bring?

Maybe a water bottle and either a lunch or funds for buying food. A chair is highly suggested and if you need don’t have one let Bill know and he will bring extras. This along with a smiling face is all you need to bring.

  • What is the festival hours?

While we setup starting at 7:00am and need to be complete by 8:00am the first guests should not arrive before 10:00am. The festival closes about 5:00pm.

  • What time should I be there?

Between Bill, Nancy and Kelly we should be pretty much ready to go by 8:00am. For everyone else there is no firm time commitment but we could use some help in taking the booth down after 5:00pm.

  • Where should I park?

Drop off what you can as close to the booth as possible and park in the large field across the street.

  • What should I wear?

A club T-shirt if you have one, an ARES vest if you have one or simply comfortable clothing. A hat is highly suggested along with comfortable shoes.

  • Will there be time for me to see other things?

Yes, we appreciate all the help and know standing in a booth for a couple of hours is not fun so get out and see the festival.

  • How much does it cost to enter the Big South Fork Park, park for the festival and enter the festival grounds?

Free, free and free! There is no cost other than for food and any vendor purchases you wish to make.

  • How close are the restrooms?

Flush toilets are close by either behind the booth or at the visitor’s center.

So what really happened?

It turned out to be a cold and rainy day with very few attendees. Besides the food vendors there was one booth selling items and we were one of three demonstration booths. We were able to set up across the courtyard from the visitors center underneath the porch of the events building. This allowed us to stay dry and we had our canopy setup next to the porch on the cement for even more dry space.

Kelly along with Bill/Nancy was able to accomplish the setup including the temporary installation of a 2-meter and an HF antenna. Due to a medical procedure a couple of days before Lee and Dinah were not able to attend but between Glen/Diane and Bill/Nancy and later in the day Stephen we were able to interact with the attendees and received some great feedback.

As a team we passed out post cards and talked about the various ways amateur radio is relevant still today especially within the park boundaries. A couple of contacts were made on the repeater for demonstration purposes and we checked in witha couple of people on the Florida QSO party weekend.

The booth featured a go-box that was on the local repeater and an HF radio to illustrate the different modes/bands. It would have been nice to have a couple of guest chairs but due to the limited space and rain it was not possible.

We had the best location of all right under the porch
The hanging caution tape is supported by our HF antenna wire. Not the highest elevation but still worked good enough for what we needed.
Pictured is Bill and Kelly listening to the radios.