East Of Zion joins performers at Cane Hill Harvest Festival

East Of Zion joins performers at Cane Hill Harvest Festival

A tradition finally returns to Cane Hill this year after a two-year hiatus. The 36th anniversary of the Cane Hill Harvest Festival will again offer visitors a chance to explore the oldest college campus in Arkansas and learn about the crafts and traditions from years past.

“We’re really excited to be able to bring back the community tradition. [Visitors] can expect a lot of the same things that we’ve had in previous years — Ozark country breakfast and live local music, the sorghum production demonstration and food trucks. We’ll also have a quilt show and drawing,” says Vanessa McKuin, executive director of Historic Cane Hill.

“We’re going to showcase some of the historic buildings through walking tours that we’ve kind of grouped in different categories. We’ll have have them in the morning and the afternoon,” she says. The Cane Hill Museum will be open, too.

“We also have right now at Historic Cane Hill a Smithsonian exhibition that’s been here since April,” she adds. The Smithsonian Habitat Exhibit explores animal and plant life and what people can do to protect those natural areas. Topics along the trails include fungi, dead wood, nests and insects.

“[The Smithsonian staff] did a lot of the content for the exhibit, but then we curated it to our specific site,” McKuin explains about the self-guided tour throughout campus and along the trail system to Jordan Creek. “Then we have one very special event tied in with the habitat exhibit called, ‘The Silken Thread.’ It’s a talk with one of the authors of a book of the same name name Ray Fisher,” McKuin adds. The event will take place in the college auditorium.

This year will have more of a focus on craft demonstrations rather than vendors. In addition to the annual quilt show, there will also be demonstrations by “lace tatters and spinners. We’ll have a blacksmith. Shiloh Museum will be here with a toy exhibit. We have lots of other crafts that are traditional to the Ozarks,” McKuin adds.

Of course no Cane Hill Festival would be complete without the sorghum pressing demonstration, which includes cutting the sorghum that is grown in Cane Hill, pressing the juice from the stalk and cooking it down into sorghum molasses. Cane Hill isn’t named for the sorghum, McKuin says, although it’s a common misconception. She relates that the story she heard is “the soil was so rich that there were canebrakes — river canebrakes — even growing on the hills.”

Also essential to each Cane Hill Festival is the live music with sounds steeped in bluegrass and folk.

“Cane Hill has a roots music program in the local schools to teach folk music to a new generation. Two of the groups who participate in that are going to be playing at the festival,” Raising Cane Hill and East of Zion, McKuin adds. Also playing are Statehouse Electric, The Cane Hillbillies and the Mountain Gypsies. “We’re encouraging people to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to come out and watch the music.”

She adds that there will be “T-shirts and sorghum and apple butter for sale. Those are some of the favorites of people who who attend this festival regularly.” A KidsZone will feature bouncy houses and plenty of room for kids to run wild (and hopefully snooze on the ride home).

First timers should be aware that the rural Ozark settlement just west of Fayetteville on Arkansas 45 is still very rustic — and the perfect place to unplug.

“Once they get into Cane Hill, they probably won’t have cell service, so we’ll have plenty of signage. They’ll be able to find the festival and parking for the festival,” says McKuin, adding that from end to end the area is about half a mile long. “It should be easy for people to find the activities. We’ll have info booths at each one of the parking areas to get people oriented.”



Cane Hill Harvest Festival

WHEN — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 17

WHERE — Cane Hill College, downtown Cane Hill

COST — Festival entry is free; parking is $3; breakfast $8 for adults, $5 for children 10 and younger

INFO — historiccanehillar.org/2022-cane-hill-harvest-festival



Harvest Festival


7 -10 a.m. — Country breakfast

9:30 a.m. — Live music starts with Raising Cane Hill

10 a.m. to noon — Historic Walking Tours

11 a.m. — East of Zion

12:30 p.m. — Plaid Magpie

1-3 p.m. — Historic Walking Tours

2 p.m. — Statehouse Electric

3:30 p.m. — Cane Hillbillies

4:30 p.m. — “The Silken Thread” with Ray Fisher

5 p.m. — Mountain Gypsies

Categories: Family Friendly