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Wilderness Road Museum a hub of activity at Newbern Fall Fest

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

October in the New River Valley brings crisper temperatures, colorful leaves and the annual Newbern Fall Festival, which occurs this coming Saturday and Sunday in the first town to be established in Pulaski County.

Newbern was formed fully 17 years before Pulaski County was cleaved from neighboring Wythe and Montgomery counties in 1839. Newbern, named by a Swiss immigrant for his favorite Swiss city, came into being because it was halfway between Christiansburg and Evansham (now Wytheville) on the Wilderness Road. The Wilderness or Great Road was the main conduit for early 19th century pioneers heading west.

Starting Saturday at 8 a.m., 100 food and craft vendors will line the same Wilderness Road (now paved) for the Newbern Fall Festival 2018. There is no entry fee to the festival but parking costs $2. No matter, it’s for a good cause as all parking proceeds and country ham sandwich sales go benefit the Newbern Volunteer Fire Department, which sponsors the event. The volunteer firefighters will also hold a raffle.

As has been the case in the past, the Wilderness Road Regional Museum will be the site of much activity, as musicians will perform there alongside craft demonstrations and living history reenactments.

Ron Ireland, locally renowned musician and songwriter, put together a program featuring some of the area’s best talent. The Pratt Brothers, a talented duo from Draper, will be among the area musicians performing Saturday. Coyote Edwards, a young musician from Wytheville, will play delta-style blues and contemporary folk music. Other young talent from Wytheville includes Misty Jackson, who “sings with a voice like an angel,” and Chase Altizer, an accomplished guitarist and singer.

Music at the museum will also include Jim Crandall, an experienced folk singer and guitarist from Bluefield; Adam Musick, a Wythe County native songwriter, musician and teacher; and Nate Montgomery, a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist singer from Dalton, Georgia, who is a teacher and youth pastor.

Jim Lloyd, a local legend in the Southwest Virginia music scene, will also be performing with Jim Lloyd and Friends. Raised in the coal country of Southwest Virginia, Jim is a master of several instruments and an expert in American music. His barbershop in Rural Retreat is a music venue on the Crooked Road.

The Wilderness Road Regional Museum will be bringing the past to life with tours of the museum, log kitchen and loom house. Re-enactment groups, including the Montgomery Militia portraying the Colonial and Revolutionary units, and the 24th Virginia and 83rd Pennsylvania Infantries doing a Civil War living history will be on hand.

There will be craft demonstrations, including spinning and lacemaking, leatherworking and musket-ball making, as well as apple butter working, corn shelling and apple cider press demonstrations.

The Newbern Fall Festival begins Saturday at 8 in the morning and runs all day. Sunday’s fall fest activities begin at noon. Each year, Newbern natives see upward of 15,000 visitors milling through the streets for this well-established event.

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