Sunday, April 15, 2012

Museum of Appalachia

I had heard people reference the Museum of Appalachia numerous times, but I had no interest of visiting.  It's just another museum and I wouldn't describe myself as a museum person.  I was into museums at DC because they were free (and they were good) but more often than not, I haven't been super drawn in by museums.  That all changed for me when I heard that the Museum of Appalachia had about three dozen actual Appalachian buildings purchased and moved to the site.  Who does that?  Lived-in buildings, on-site? Wouldn't it be cheaper to build replicas?!  So here is this museum that models an Appalachian town, half an hour away from me?  Incredible!  So, after learning that piece of information, this museum was on my must-see list.  The admission fee was $15 (AAA discount applied) which normally I would consider steep, but to support such a museum, I deemed it $15 well-spent.  

I just love the artistic arrangement of marbles, beads and arrowheads.  It definitely adds interest to the exhibit.
The Appalachian people live near the Appalachian Mountains, surprise!  I was unaware until recently that they lived so close to me since I'm a bit far and technically live in the foothills.  So it turns out that the Appalachian-designated region is more cultural rather than directly related to the mountain range.  The Appalachian region extends from the southern parts of New York to the northern part of Georgia, even though the Appalachian mountain range starts in Canada.  The Appalachians carry a stereotype of being backwards people stemming from the early 1900's and to this day the media portrays them as "hillbillies".  Being from California, I have very little exposure to Appalachians, except for reading a children's fiction novel that time traveled there.  So in Sociology 101 when we read Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood we watched some pop cultural portrayals of Appalachian people and I was like, "Ohhh that's what a "hillbilly" is."  I've obviously heard that term but had no idea what it referenced.  

Another regional difference to throw into the story, in middle school geography, we were taught to pronounce it as "Appa-LAY-sha" and the teacher made fun of a student for pronouncing it as "Appa-LA-cha."  Well, I get here and that's how people in Tennessee (and apparently North Carolina and Georgia too) pronounce it.  North of the Mason-Dixon line, people pronounce it as "Appa-LAY-cha."  M-W Dictionary pronounces it the way the Yankees do.  Bias, much?

Chair made out of horseshoes!  Given that the motor vehicle was becoming widely available, horse-drawn transportation was a goner too.  What a creative way of reusing horseshoes, turns out the repurposed and upcycled stuff is nothing new! 
Extra large photo in hopes that you can read the hilarious story for yourself.  If not, the story goes that this curled up stick was once as straight as the stick next to it but after soaking in a jar of moonshine whiskey, it turned into this.   "Moonshine is a bad thing."

Can you tell that music is a big deal?  It was the first time I had seen a lot of these instruments

Here a bunch more pictures of the beautiful facilities.  Before visiting this place I had just learned that my friends got married here and I can see why.  There was a very peaceful vibe to this place.  I'm glad I didn't come when there was a special event because I think that crowds of people would takeaway from its beauty.  Although, the events are supposed to be really good, so I think that special events warrant an additional trip, not avoidance.  (Though I hear the special events are pricey for non-members)

What a beautiful serene place!  I was so glad I came!  Although that peacock was in my way and I was scared to pass it, so I hung around a bit longer...  I'm scared of birds.  :P
I like the hanging gourds.  They look so cool and sort of like a telephone pole.

I had heard that lunch here was delicious, and especially their desserts.  They try to serve true to Appalachian style food.  What you see here clockwise from the left are pickled beets, beef tips, butter pecan cake, corn bread and cornbread salad.  I was curious to what cornbread salad was so I had to try it. It was essentially cornbread broken up with celery, carrots and mayo.  The cornbread itself was delicious.  It had just come out of the oven so it was super hot, but impressed me was the thickness of the cornbread crust.  The crust covered the bottom and top of it and it was thicker than pie crust.  I wonder how they get such thick crust.  Must be their baking pans or something?  I had the save the butter pecan pie for breakfast the next day.  
A hot meal is served each day that comes with cornbread and 2 sides

I missed it that day but signature Appalachian dessert is their apple stack cake.  The stacked cake became a phenomenon for fascinating cultural reasons.  The Appalachians have long been regarded as the poorest part of the country.  That has changed in recent years.  Traditionally, when someone gets married, the bride's family does not prepare the whole cake because that would be a great financial burden.  Instead, guests will each contribute a layer while the bride's family prepares the filling.  How many guests attend=how popular the family is, and you can see it by how high the cake gets.  I think that's a super creative way of contributing to the newly wedded couple's big day.

1 comment:

  1. That looks like a lot of fun! Maybe when you go back for a special event you'll be able to get some of that apple stack cake :)