By JB Clark
TUPELO – Saturday was a celebration of rockabilly and the old way of doing things as living history demonstrators, farmers, blacksmiths and community members gathered at the Oren Dunn City Museum to participate in the Dogtrot Rockabilly Festival.
Volunteers used an old Chattanooga mill and tractor to make molasses next to the museum’s dogtrot house.
A tractor was driven round the mill to rotate the mill’s arm and crush the sorghum stalks. Molasses poured out the other side of the mill and then boiled down over a fire.
“Everyone in the community would come together to help cook the molasses,” said Harry Collins. “Normally a mule would be used to turn the mill but we have a tractor today.”
Molasses was an affordable sweetener in the pioneer days since sugar and honey were much more expensive and rare.
Throughout the day, musicians played rockabilly music on the porch of the museum’s dogtrot house.
Rae Mathis, operations and outreach coordinator for the museum, said the proceeds from the festival will go to re-roof the historic dogtrot house.
“The roof is dipping and if we don’t fix that, we’ll lose the house,” she said. “It will cost about $19,000. First, we had the Dudie Burger Festival every year and that went to restore Dudie’s Diner. We’re almost finished with that and the house is now the priority.”
Chris Holland of Convenant Creek Farms in Belmont brought a goat from the farm where they use goat milk to make soaps, skin care products and cheeses.
“We started making the skin care products 20 years ago because I’m allergic to everything at the store,” she said.
Nathan Shaddinger of Magnolia Knoll llama farm in New Albany walked around the festival with Critical Mass, one of his llamas, to show the children in attendance how soft and gentle the animals are. He and his wife Sandy use the llama wool to make clothing.
Lyle Wynn, a blacksmith from Brandon, demonstrated blacksmithing techniques and had his wares available for purchase.
“He’s been doing it for 16 years but decided to blacksmith full time three years ago,” said Patricia Wynn, his wife.
Wynn used a mix of the classic blacksmith tools many expect to see at living history events as well as modern tools.