Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 16: Celebrations, Special and Annual Events
By Topic: Celebrations
FARM Guide to Community Fair Days, 1917 – present
TAGS: Community Guide to Fair Day ; Community Fair ; community events ; fairs ; Pine Mountain Settlement School Community ; farming ; farms ; weavings ; weaving ; embroidery ; sewing ; canned goods ; garden products ; poultry ; flowers ; canning ; pickles ; Medical Clinic ; health check-ups ; medicine ; barbecue ; mutton ; beef ; pork ; ballads ; singing ; movies ; ball games ; calling contests ; chicken calling ; hog calling ; sheep calling ; cow calling ; prizes ; music ; educational exhibits ; home products ; cooking ; cakes ; honey ; breads ; corn shuck crafts ; crochet ; furniture ; brooms ; soaps ; rugs ; coverlets ; quilts ; jellies ; jams
The FARM Guide to Community Fair Days at Pine Mountain Settlement School (PMSS) provides access to information regarding the fair for selected years during which the event was held at the School. The celebration has been nearly continuous since 1917.
Community Fair Day is one of many annual events that has a long history at Pine Mountain Settlement School. It started in 1917 as an extension of the Harlan County Fair and the School’s “Farmer’s Day.” Of all the events of the School, Fair Day and the Nativity Play stand out as integral to the continuing sense of community that the School has treasured since its founding in 1913. Abner Boggs, a Pine Mountain community resident and musician, summed up the classic iconic day in the 1944 edition of the Pine Mountain Settlement School Notes:
“The sun is a-shining to welcomeAbner Boggs, 1944 Notes
the day, with a heigh-ho, come
to the Fair.”
Abner Boggs continues,
“Hit’s always right and good for menfolks and womenfolks to have conversation one with another. On this day they were things to eat and folks to eat ’em. They were interestin’ things to look at and folks looked. They were a fine educated man to speak , and I reckon most folk got some benefit out of hit. Them that done the best in any manner of means such as callin’ a hog or raising a turnip got notice took of hit. They were’n’t no discord nor wilful killin’ and shootin’ to interrupt. Hit were a good Fair.”Abner Boggs, 1944 Notes
Like many festive days at Pine Mountain, the Community Fair gathering is a song. It is filled with the lyrical beauty of the community language, children’s laughter, and musicians trained by their own sensitive ear. It is an event that harks back to its early European origins and that is tempered by its contemporary influences.
While the fundamental program of the Fair has remained remarkably consistent, the scale and scope of the Fair have varied from year to year as interest in fairs has waxed and waned in the School, the community, and the nation. The displays of fine turnips, large cushaw squash, and pots of brilliant zinnias and marigolds only seeking a ribbon of recognition have, today, given way to booths of vendors selling ideas and commercial wares. The exhibits of old fashioned household gear have moved to museum exhibits, such as those found in Boy’s House Library, and the stepped bleachers of weavings and quilts lovingly crafted are now permanently displayed among other craft in the large open rooms of Draper Industrial and Laurel House II. There, the crafts still receive their visual ribbons of recognition and a brief, “I remember when my grandmother made her wedding quilt,” or when willing buyers graze in the gift shop for wooden handmade bowls now turned on electronic lathes that mimic the gouged buckeye dough bowls of long ago. The murmurs of praise from neighbors are always there for those who continue crafting and skillful farming but the skills in many of the small communities are fewer each year.
Today, with the increased interest in farming and foodways, there is a renewed interest in fairs, and many communities throughout Appalachia are gathering in fall festivals and fairs to celebrate their home-grown produce, share their talents as basket weavers, potters, weavers of “kivers,” jelly-makers, chow-chow champions, furniture makers, whittlers and gee-haw whimmy diddle diddlers. Pine Mountain is among those communities where this interest is alive and growing with the new Industrial Kitchen in the old Girl’s Industrial building. Music and dance have also maintained a place in the Pine Mountain program.
The memory of the Pine Mountain Community Fair has been passed down through generations in the families of the valley and it is doubtful that the community will soon let go of this important Fall tradition.
This Guide to Community Fair Days at PMSS follows the chronology of Fair Day celebrations as they were interpreted across the years at the School. While not all years of the Fair are represented in this Guide it is a reflection of the many variations of this iconic community gathering. It is a record of the evolution of the Community Fair as it was celebrated at the School and in many small mountain communities in the Central and Southern Appalachians. The Guide samples the events and provides a window into the cultural changes through the years from 1917 until the late 1940s and beyond.
FARM GUIDE TO Community Fair Day
HINDMAN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL FAIR DAYS – (See 1914-1915 COMMUNITY FAIR DAYS)
1921 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1922 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1923 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1924 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1925 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1926 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1927 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1933 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1936 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1940 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1941 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1942 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1943 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1945 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY
1946 COMMUNITY FAIR DAY