One sure sign that our cold, hard winter is over and warmer days are finally here is the announcement that the Exchange Place Living History Farm will be hosting its Spring Garden Fair, which this year will take place on Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 27, from noon until 5 p.m.  The oldest garden fair in the region, 2014 marks the 30th year of this annual celebration of heritage farming and heirloom gardening which brings together dozens of plant vendors, artisans, musicians, educators, writers and more on the grounds of the historic Gaines/Preston home.

Located at 4812 Orebank Road, the farmstead comes alive as people from all over Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia mingle with gardening and farming experts, and folk and yard artisans, while musicians play in the background.  Thousands of plants will be for sale with an emphasis on natives, herbs, perennials, and heirloom plants, along with garden accessories and related crafts. Visitors can see food cooked over an old-fashioned hearth, iron formed over the forge, baskets woven, brooms hand-tied and lye soap stirring over the fire.  The Overmountain Weavers Guild continues their long tradition of “Sheep to Shawl,” with sheep being sheared and the wool carded, spun into yarn and woven into a shawl within hours.  Retired World Champion Whimmy Diddler Will Hines of Greeneville is expected to return to direct the 6th annual Edens Ridge Whimmy Diddle Competition at 3 pm on Sunday.  There are also many activities for children, under the guidance of the Girl Scouts, 4H and other volunteers, including “chores” done on an active working farm.  A variety of food will be available both days.

Local musicians will be playing for much of the weekend, and a variety of educational “Talks and Walks” will take place at various points throughout the farm; please call for specific times.  Master Gardeners and members of the Southern Appalachian Plant Society will also be on hand to provide information on plants and gardening and answer individual gardening questions.

Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12. 

And if you need an extra incentive to come out our way, the Preston Hills Presbyterian Church, just next door to Exchange Place, is holding a free Health Fair on Saturday, April 26.  Information on disaster preparedness will be available from the Red Cross.  The Sullivan County Health Department and the Diabetes Association will provide health information, and the Marsh Regional Blood Center Bloodmobile will be on hand for those who want to donate blood.

Exchange Place, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a non-profit, volunteer-run living history farm, educational facility and regional attraction that seeks to preserve and interpret the history, heritage, and artifacts pertaining to mid-19th century farm life in Northeast Tennessee.  Free tours are offered every weekend from 2:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., beginning on Saturday, May 3 and running through the end of October.

For more information on all Exchange Place events, or driving instructions, please call 423-288-6071, or visit http://exchangeplace.info/.