November 06, 2010

Ozark Treasures

Recently, my husband and I were making plans about how to celebrate our anniversary when I ran across a blog post by another Ozark Homesteader about her latest visit to a very interesting place called the Ozark Folk Center.  We had decided that we wanted to take a wandering drive for photography purposes, but to also have a specific destination in mind, we just couldn't decide what that destination would be until I came across her post.  Even though my husband and I have lived in the Ozarks for a combined total of 55 years, neither one of us had ever heard of this place.  It's not that they are trying to keep it a secret, but like much hidden in these mountains, Branson tends to get most of the publicity and quite frankly, Branson has gotten a bit too big for it's britches if you ask us.  We prefer the smaller, hidden treasures the Ozarks has to offer, especially anywhere that has genuine, traditional Ozark folk culture including our rich mountain music heritage.

We had a beautiful drive through the mountains that were at their peak of fall color except this year's peak wasn't the finest I've ever seen here, but still, the views were beautiful.  We traveled through some great towns, one worth mentioning is Calico Rock.
This historic, quaint town sets right on the White River, in the heart of the most scenic locations with some of the best hunting, fishing and wildlife in the world.  There is no flashing lights, no stop lights,
no chaos, just a quiet and peaceful location that will take you back in time.
Next we came to a great stopping place, one can not drive by and NOT stop, Mellons Country Store.  We were welcomed heartily by the store's proprietor, Don Mellon, who was a delightful fellow, full of hill folk origin and quick to offer descriptions and helpful hints of the items in his store.  He even provided us with a homemade soap recipe that I will post about another time.  

After many irresistible stops along the way, we finally arrived at the Ozark Folk Center.  For any of you that have ever visited Silver Dollar City in Branson, you could picture the Folk Center as all of the old mountain craft shops of Silver Dollar City without all of the rides and hoopla.  Shops and demonstrations include basket making, weaving and spinning, candle making, pottery, herbs, wood carving, music shop, dolls, guns and knives.....the list seems endless.  It even has an Ozark Folk School for those eager to learn the arts.
My favorite was the Herb Cabin, it gave us great ideas for our next project because our house can tend to look like a small version of this throughout the year and it would be nice to have a designated place for it.
Our next favorite cabin was the Shannon Cabin.  Being Shannons ourselves, we were delighted to hear the details of who this cabin belonged to and all of the history behind it.  Now to locate the exact branch of Shannons to see where the relation is!  The Center offers many learning opportunities for children that are provided in this cabin where they can learn the heritage and nature of the Ozarks.

We topped off our day entering the Instrument Shop where retired Danny Thomas builds fiddles.  He is full of rich musical heritage and still plays on the town square.  Since our daughter has played the fiddle for several years, and bluegrass is a part of daily life for us, we were very impressed to learn that Mountain View offers an award winning Music Roots program within their schools that offer children to learn and play an instrument and even provides instruments to those who cannot afford them.  What a great way to keep our mountain musical heritage alive!  The group that developed this incredible program can be found at the Ozark Folk Center and are glad to receive donations if anyone is so inclined.  The Center is also having a national Bluegrass Festival this month which promises to be a delight.  You can click on any of the links provided in this post to obtain more information.  And if you ever get a chance to visit, you will not be disappointed.  We will be going back very soon ourselves to share all of it with our daughter.  Hopefully my camara will be working better (these pictures do not do this delightful place justice), or be replaced by then.  It has seen better days and the lens decided to come out on this trip!   

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