On July 15, Tom and I worked at the Tri-State Outdoor Fest in Cumberland Gap. I mentioned before that Cumberland Gap is a little town that is trying to be a tourist draw to the area. They host special events several times during the summer, including the Small Farmers Market that I wrote about last week.
The Tri-State Outdoor Fest is technically a one-day event, although they also sponsor a “Clean Up the Creek” the next day. Tom and I participated in both events. Most of the 67 vendors and sponsors set up along the main street of Cumberland Gap. There were outdoor outfitters, environmental groups, and food vendors. A lot of the local people who are trying to live sustainably came out to display soaps, food, and household goods.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park had a big presence at the Tri-State Outdoor Fest by having free Gap Cave tours all day. In addition, there was a Living History program of sorts on the way up to the cave. The first station was a furs and bones spot to talk about the animals that inhabit the Gap. Then Tom talked about the Iron Furnace. I was stationed at an intersection on the trail up to the cave and did some spinning with my drop spindle. The final station was a ranger talking about the pioneers that came through the gap.
We had over 100 people take advantage of the free, 15-minute cave tours. It is the only day of the year that you can get in the cave for free. I was glad that I was stationed at the intersection because I could catch people who were out hiking and didn’t know about the cave tours. In addition, I could keep people who were heading for the cave tours from going the wrong way on the trail. I also got a lot of spinning done!
Tom and I had a chance to walk around the vendor area during our lunch break. We saw some local people that we knew, including Pam and Chuck Blank.
The next day, Sunday, was the Yellow Creek Clean Up. Instead of helping with the clean-up, Tom and I helped with the children’s activities. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has often been seen with suspicion by the local people, so we are trying to present a friendlier presence in the community. The Yellow Creek Clean Up takes place in a part of Middlesboro that is poor. The people don’t want to pay for garbage pick-up, so they just throw their trash in the creek. The clean-up crew took out over 2,000 pounds of trash out of the creek and the area around it.
We only had 12 people at the children’s activities, but that is better than last year when they didn’t have any. Fortunately it was a nice afternoon to sit outside.
Tom and I are glad to represent Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and help any way we can. It is always good when the park can connect with local partners to work together.