The Day Begins

Drenched in the vibrant hues of autumn, Owsley County High School’s Heritage Day on the School Farm begins on a cool foggy October morning in 2023. The day beckons us to a bygone era, where the spirit of the 1800s hunting camp is resurrected with authenticity in all the supplies needed by the hunters on their journey. Local residents, Brett Burns and Ike Moore are there to give demonstrations and short talks about how life was in that time period.

The Tasting Trail
Amidst the rustling leaves and laughter, the Tasting Trail becomes a sensory journey through the bounty of the local farmers from Owsley County Farmers Market and the Kentucky Horticulture Council. Assisting is the Owsley County FFA students who worked with the market this year by offering delicacies to taste and educational activities about popcorn (growing, shelling, drying and popping), baked sweet potatoes (red and white varieties), breakfast potatoes (learning how potatoes grow and having opportunities to actually dig the potatoes) and crisp apples (learning about the many varieties, their different tastes and uses)– a feast celebrating both tradition and local flavors still available in the fall to six hundred and forty children and their adults who attend the day with them.

Food Preservation
Attendees gather ’round an open fire pit for a water bath tomato canning demonstration, hands-on and preserving a slice of history. The freshly made juice was prepared into a local favorite, macaroni and tomatoes for everyone to sample. Many found a way to return for seconds.

Traditional Owsley County Recipes
Then they travel on to the local homemakers’ camp to sample traditional bread recipes from the Owsley County Cookbook compiled by generations of Owsley County Women. There are breads made from zucchini, nuts, potatoes, bananas, chocolate concoctions and more.
The air resonates with the soulful tunes of time appropriate local folk music by the high school band, harmonizing with the aroma of freshly made apple cider made by the local extension office that swirls around the festivities.

Local Traditions
Corn shuck dolls, a nod to local traditional craftsmanship, finds eager observers, and a hayride provided by the Owsley County FFA chapter transport joyous souls through the heart of the season and the corn patch. A pumpkin field, adorned with the promise of the harvest and a pumpkin for all completes this kaleidoscopic celebration weaving the past into the vibrant fabric of today.

The day gives some seven hundred Owsley County residents, young and old, a glimpse of their past, present, and perhaps a future of carrying on local traditions and practices that our mountains have long been known for in the surrounding areas. Our local FFA chapter facilitates the event, provides volunteers and makes the day possible on the school farm. Children learn rich lessons in history, valuable skills in observing and reporting what they have learned with the lessons to follow the excursion to Heritage Days, along with still valuable life skills in craftsman ship, farming, cooking, food preservation and perhaps most of all, being proud of our heritage and traditions.