The Second Weekend in October is always the most exciting in Coker Creek; for many years this has been the weekend of the Autumn Gold Festival, the Ruritan Club’s featured fundraiser. Ruritan is sort of the rural version of the Civitans, Lions Club, or Kiwanis Club. Their sole purpose is to foster strong family and community connections in the most rural areas of our vast and wonderful country. For forty-one years, this fine group of folks has been putting on a cross between an old-fashioned county fair and a fine folk art, music, and food showplace and market.
A highlight of the festival is always the queen contest, held on Sunday. Unlike many festivals that award God-given beauty, the Coker Creek Queen Competition honors our American heritage by awarding prizes to those who present an era from our nation’s history in costume and demeanor. Winners have ranged in age from babies-in-arms to a ninety-year-old woman who wowed the judges with her ensemble that she had worn in the 1930s.
Bill Schaaf, our local gold prospecting guide provides panning lessons, and wagon rides around the extensive grounds are available to all. The children love the petting zoo, as well as the wide open spaces to wander and observe various artists at work. The fabulous bands, perform on the main stage each day.
The seats in front of the main stage are always a welcome resting place, whether there are programs on stage or not. Festival fans of all ages enjoy the break from all that walking as they munch on a great lunch of local mountain favorites like funnel cakes, a bowl of beans with cornbread, barbecue, fried pickles, and all manner of home-style country cooking and confections.
Power tools are always a reliable man magnet, and isn’t the tractor the ultimate personal power plant? The farm boys (and girls) and aspiring back-to-nature boys (and girls) will be enthralled by the array of vintage tractors and wood working artists around the grounds. While homemaking partners peruse the latest in folk art, the keepers of the land can be dreaming of woodworking, whittling, and plowing.
So far this year, I've hauled home several pounds of festival ground grits, a couple of pop guns for a friend's grandchildren, and some jewelry to give as gifts. Jack sold over a dozen books, and our over-the-hill neighbors sold almost all the horseshoe doo-dads they brought to the fest. This is definitely country craft fair at its finest, and tomorrow is another day.