So last week someone commented on my idea of a Catholic Trade School or Technical College and mentioned the John C. Campbell Folk school in Brasstown, NC. Mrs. Curley and I visited their website and noticed they were having a Fall Festival this past weekend with over 200 craftsman vendors and 3 stages of live folk music. Brasstown is 5 hours away, and gas is expensive, but I worked the children very hard this summer, and they have been working very hard in school this year also-so on a pretty much "spur of the moment" decision, we decided to go.
The plan was to leave early Friday morning after Mass and come home Saturday evening, leaving double rations for the animals. We would camp out nearby in Murphy, NC.
We packed the car Thursday evening, but Friday morning as we were feeding the animals, we found didn't have enough chicken feed and goat feed for double rations. We couldn't go! So we unpacked the car and went off to First Friday Mass.
We regrouped and after Mass; deciding we'd try again Saturday morning. The Festival started at 10:00 AM and was over 5 hours away, so we really had to get an early start and feed the animals in the dark. This also meant finding a Catholic Church for Sunday Mass-no mean task that. (You take your spirtual life into your hands if you don't do your research when finding Mass when traveling. You can gleam a bit about a parish from http://www.masstimes.org/ -look to see if they have daily Mass, adoration, holy hours, Latin Masses, Novus Ordo or Tridentine, etc.).
So repacked the car Friday night and fed the animals at 5:00 AM. Some animals get their fill and come back when hungry again-even some pigs. But "Little Big Guy" just stood there eating and eating. I'll bet he didn't stop til the trough was empty.
Boy what a beautiful drive! We love the mountains. So much so, that every time we spend time in the mountains we talk about moving there .... but as with everything, only God satisfies. If we moved to the mountains, before too long we would long for the beach. But I digress.
We arrived at the John C. Campbell Fall Festival at around 11:30 AM. While waiting to get in, we were treated to the music of two folk different folk bands. (As a matter of fact, the folk bands and the private jam sessions of musicians were the best part of the festival.)
With over 200 craft vendors, I thought we see more variety. No doubt there was some good stuff there, but I really would have liked to see wooden boxes and furniture (none at all except one talented young man who made major pieces with halved logs.) The only woodworking apparent was turning and some carving demonstrations, but no carving vendors, and some walking and talking sticks.
The demonstrations were good. One lady was spinning wool. One man was turning a piece on a foot-powered lathe. And there were several wood carvers making figures and spoons.
The highlight for my younger ones were the pony rides. I have a daughter who absolutely loves everything horse, but had never ridden anything more alive than a merry-go-round. Well, she had her chance on Saturday and loved it. She was very timid but determined climbing aboard, but after the 2nd time around I knew horse fever had just reached a higher pitch and had not receded in the least.
We camped at Peace Valley Campground on Happy Road in Murphy, NC. We were the only tent campers, as the girl in the office told me, "At this time of year we don't see too many tents here-you know it was in the 30's last night?" (I didn't, but also didn't tell Mrs. Curley it would be in the 40's which is what the weather site told me.).
Our site was right next to a river. The two oldest boys set up the site while I tried to teach the younger ones how to skip rocks-breaking my own record with a 14 skipper! The rocks and the river were just right. (You want the water moving towards you, but gently so it is almost like a glass lake-this gives you the best bounce and movement.)
Later, my youngest son wandered a bit too far and hit a small sink hole-but number two son was there to 'rescue' him.
My sons were all upset with me for "going modern" on this camping trip. First, we went to the bath-house to do our "business", and secondly I brought the brand new Coleman Stove I won in a raffle when I was teaching at Cardinal Newman High School two years ago. For dinner we had okra (picked by my sons) and home grown pork chops.
After dinner we sang some songs around the campfire and then I told some stories-must not have been too good because there were no nightmares. (Although Mrs. Curley kept me up a bit with some questions in the middle of the night: "What was that?" periodically.)
In the morning I fired up the the stove again and cooked up some homegrown eggs and sausage. (We also had some oatmeal.)
Then we broke camp, got cleaned up and dressed for Mass. I won't name the Church we went to. It was a small parish built in the early 60's. It was obvious that there was some recent updating (for the better). The TLM is heard there regularly, but not on the weekend we were there. In fact, we had a visiting priest as the pastor was gone two weeks.
The visiting priest was 30 minutes late. As we waited, the chit-chat began to rise. But then (thankfully), the organ started, and we sang three or four songs, and then said the rosary, and then the Divine Mercy chaplet, until Father finally arrived.
At Holy Communion a kneeler was placed before the altar. Communicants could come on either side of the kneeler and receive standing, or could kneel to receive Holy Communion.
I could comment on several things during Mass, but won't because the priest was visiting and that colors some things-but I will pray for that parish this week because I think it is a divided parish. (Father asked the altar boys whether the Precious Blood was usually distributed. They answered in the affirmative. Yet at Communion time, no Eucharistic minister came forward, so Father asked the congregation. Some members indicated that the Precious Blood was not distributed, others said yes it was-by intinction. Clearly there were some undercurrents here, coming out with the pastor away.)
After Mass we were invited to free food in the parish hall. This was difficult to decline (we rarely decline free food) but it was almost 12:30, and we wanted to get home before dark, and due to several factors, we were unclear of the lay of the land. It was a blessing we didn't stay, because if we stayed to eat, we wouldn't have met Miss Mary who also didn't stay for food, but approached us in the parking lot. What a wonderful lady. She was so full of enthusiasm for our family and about life (she also kept goats way back). She promised to pray for us this whole week (We've already seen the fruits of her prayers twice.) What a wonderful lady!
The first leg home was beautiful. We drove up NC 19/74 for many miles along the river (stopping once to get our feet wet) up to Asheville, before turning South towards home.
We also stopped once for coffee and shakes for the kids (It was middle daughter's 10th birthday. We celebrated it on Monday, but acknowledged it with song and shakes during the drive home.)
We had some unexpected delays on the ride home I won't detail, finally arriving just after 7:00 PM as the sun was disappearing. The first order of business was the animals-yes, all were safe (always the fear when gone so long.) When number one son (always the prankster) called out we had two baby kids (just a few days ago I blogged about how our "pregnant goat" was just fat!) we didn't believe him. But lo and behold (the prayers from Miss Mary) "Ruth" had her kids-most likely born that day (one boy, one girl). What a homecoming!
So now you know what we did this past weekend.
For those still with me, a couple notes. Today of course is the feast of Our Lady of Victory/Our Lady of the Rosary. If you want to introduce our Lady of the Rosary to your pre-reader, or early reader RequiemPress has the book for you!
The SC State Fair starts tomorrow. We haven't gone to the State Fair in a few years. I definitely would like to see the pig showing. Looks like it may happen. I am being interviewed (I don't think it is live, I think it will be broadcast during the week) by Catholic Radio (yes SC has Catholic Radio http://www.catholicradiosc.com/ in Greenville and Charleston-maybe the midlands soon!) at the SC Fair this week. They will be doing a series of interviews near the Catholic booth at the fair on opening day. Stop by.
Thanks for listening...Oremus pro invicem!