Sunday, September 22, 2013

Appalachia: Unearthed

Saturday September 21st seemed to be a dreary day, with grey clouds looming above spritzing us lightly with rain and around noon, as I looked around there seemed to be less people there than the previous year(likely due to the weather), however this did not hinder the excitement of the vendors, performers, and presenters. 2 large tents were erected and filled with sellers of cakes, pottery, knitted hats, pot holders, and multiple stands full of jewelry with shimmering glints of colorful gems imbedded within them as if to provide the wearer with special powers.
The Archeological Society of Maryland tent, though small (and occasionally splashing water on those people lucky enough to find themselves standing in just the right spots) contained tools that native peoples used, pictures of the sites they are currently working on, and information on the subject. A couple at the tent asked one of the archaeologists by the name of Dr. Brown “how did these sites get found” and his response was that as rain waters flood the area the surface lines were found. When that couple left I continued to ask questions, one being:
 When did you begin work on the site you are currently at?
“People have been picking at it since the 1700s, but the last 25 years have been a scientifically led dig. Water deposits from the Ice age make it difficult to get to the artifacts, but it’s still pretty cool.”
What has been the most interesting artifact you have uncovered?
“Artifacts are interesting, but for me---it’s the story”
He told some of the story, about palisades and elk bone pendants, which are special because there are no elks in the area of Western Maryland currently, nor have they been present for some time. Another gentleman by the name of Roy Phillips told a story about flint napping and then pressing the stone with the tip of an elk horn to get the arrow point just right, and how the shelters were built with posts and that he’s drawn multiple renderings of what their homes would look like. So with an invitation to come to volunteer at the site just past Cumberland next weekend I left with some information and directions and went on to pet some goats!
Upon reaching the goat pen an older gentleman opened the gate and soon I learned that there are many different breeds of goats. Imagine the wings of a plane; that is exactly what this goat’s ears looked like, as if ready to take off. His ears were straight out and flat (soft to the touch as well) and rightfully called the “Airplane goat”. The woman inside the pen, who bred the goats, mentioned that “this is what happens when goats are bred this way”; He is a mix between the Alpine goat whose ears stick straight up in the air and the Nubian goat, whose ears hang down low. These goats were very soft and gentle, allowing many children and adults alike to pet them, just as long as we didn’t get in the way of their munching on the hay. One little boy, who was obviously a goat tamer let me know that the supper fluffy Angora goat belongs to him and her name is “Aggie”.

After petting the goats some students mentioned that they liked the fact that there were so many choices of what to see and do. One young man, Isaac Lendore with excitement in his voice said “I’m gonna go get lots of money for this fair, so I can buy cookies and cakes and share, 'cause I like to share'”. While he was happy with food choices, a young lady named Jessica Cantler said “It was interesting to see such a variety of native cultures, when I don’t normally get to enjoy these types of things”. Overall the Appalachian festival is a place where people can enjoy food, music, dances, jewelry and fashion apparel, and learn some information about Appalachia that they wouldn’t normally seek out on their own. This is an event not to be missed if you can help it!

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