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Ames Heritage Festival


Article & photos by Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

On October 8, 2016, the Heritage Village at Ames Plantation was once again transformed into a 19th century community, with approximately 175 artisans and crafts people demonstrating the necessary skills for life and survival on a rural farmstead. With sunny weather in the upper 70s, the beautiful fall day attracted the most visitors ever to the festival – 6,014! Over 75 volunteers helped run the festival; most were through the Ames Plantation Historical Society, which plays an important role in documenting preserving the history – and educating the public – at Ames Plantation.

The 19th annual Ames Heritage Festival featured folk artists, demonstrators, re-enactors, and musicians for a day of entertainment and education.  There was gospel, blues, and string band music, mainly in the front aisle of the Mule Barn, but also at other locations in the Heritage Village.  There were plenty of 19th century skills demonstrations as well as hands-on activities for visitors, such as picking cotton or greens and goat milking.  There was blacksmithing, brick making, dark fired tobacco in the smoke house, quilting, weaving, tatting, soap making, basket weaving, broom making, traditional pottery, making shakes (or wooden shingles made from split logs), storytelling in the one-room school house, and a demonstration by draft horses Big Star and Kroger on how logging with horses is done. 

The Civil War re-enactors brought history to life at their encampment on the Ames Manor House grounds, with a cannon firing demonstration every hour. Ear plugs were helpful!

There was a wide selection of art and crafts available for purchase from some of the best folk artists in the region. There was stone ground corn meal and a variety of cooked food, plus some homemade ice cream for dessert. Tractor enthusiasts could browse through a line-up of antique tractors. Children could have their faces painted, pet the champion bird dogs, watch a goat milking demonstration and pet the goats, and ride The Lit’l Train around the grounds. Visitors could learn about the National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs, held every February on the Ames Plantation, meet (and pet)some fine bird dogs, and see quail and pigeons up close. There were several breeds of chickens on display. And on their way out, folks could pick up a home grown pumpkin to take home for pies or a jack-o-lantern.
Find out more about the annual Heritage Festival at the Ames website:, and visit them on Facebook at The Ames Plantation. Photos from this festival and past festivals are available at

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