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Pinellas Folk Festival features hands-on learning


Sunday may be for touchdowns, but Saturday is all about the hoedowns as the Pinellas County Historical Society presents its 16th annual Pinellas Folk Festival at Heritage Village, a living history museum.

Set amid the pines and palmettos, the 19th century village will come to life with the music, stories, games and crafts of yesteryear. Inhale the smokehouse aromas as you tour more than two dozen historical structures, inspect antique cars, and observe a blacksmith at work.

"This is a great way for residents and visitors to see Old Florida in the middle of Pinellas County," said Ellen Babb, the museum's operations manager. "It's a nice alternative to the beaches and Mickey Mouse."

This year's event features a dozen new "EnterAction" hands-on learning stations spread throughout the 21-acre park.

Wooden barrels with alligator logos mark the stations. When children lift the lid they will find archival photographs inside, showing how the early settlers lived and worked.

Drawing on historic themes of agriculture, coastal living, community life and tourism, the stations allow pint-sized pioneers to do laundry, load citrus, help build a cattle pen or sail on an imaginative journey on the high seas.

"We'll have our junior docents (teen volunteers) to help out and have fun with the kids," said Paige Noel, the museum's living history interpreter.

Country, bluegrass, folk and gospel music will fill the air. Bring a kazoo or other instrument and jam along or show off some fancy footwork.

Storyteller Emily Harris will spin folklore on the Log Cabin stage while crafters spin shawls from fleece behind the HC Smith Store. A traditional embroidery show takes place in the Pinellas Room.

The festival is free, with donations accepted.

Visitors park free at an event lot located on 119th Street between Ulmerton and Walsingham roads, where a shuttle will take them to the festival.

Back this year is the crowd-pleasing Earthlings Electric Washboard Band, composed of husband-and-wife team Ann Richards and K.C. Jones.

This year marks the couple's eighth appearance at the folk fest, where they typically perform tunes like Oh! Susanna and The Man on the Flying Trapeze.

"This year we might throw in a few songs from the 20th and 21st centuries," Jones said.

He plays guitar and spoons while she plays a banjo-ukulele and a washboard equipped with a squeaker, train whistle, cymbal, several stainless steel measuring cups — just about everything but the kitchen sink.

"We want people to have fun," Jones said, "and hear songs like they've never heard them before."

if you go

16th annual Pinellas Folk Festival

What: The Pinellas County Historical Society presents its 16th annual Pinellas Folk Festival at Heritage Village in Largo. The festival is free; donations to benefit the village are accepted.

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parking: Visitors park free at an event parking lot located on 119th Street between Ulmerton and Walsingham roads, where a free bus will shuttle them to the festival. Handicapped parking and dropoff are located at the former Gulf Coast Museum

of Art, 12211 Walsingham Road. The last shuttle bus leaves for event parking at 4:30 p.m.

Bring: Youngins, old folks, folding chairs or blankets, and a musical instrument for jam sessions.

Also: Tote a canvas bag for shopping at the Market in the Park, located in the Pinellas County Extension parking lot, 12520 Ulmerton Road. It's open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday.

For more information: Call (727) 582-2123 or visit

Pinellas Folk Festival features hands-on learning 01/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:43pm]
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