Time To Warm Up Your Cockles


I love this time of the year. October has always been special for me and one reason could be because of the fact it was the month of my birth. Birthdays are pretty big events in our family and coming from a dairy family we “milk” them for everything they are worth. The opposite of birth is death, which also has somewhat of a celebration, but at least during the birth celebration the person being celebrated gets to enjoy the food. And I guess it is the food that I do really enjoy.  

We also have the changing of the leaves, the cooler temperatures, as well as hayrides and festivals going on now, but it is also chili, wiener roasts and molasses time just to name a few fall favorites. It all started for me when the September Equinox occurred and the sun rose directly in the east and set directly in the west on that day; I started thinking about autumn farm parties. You know the kind, those with lots of pumpkins and straw sitting around, along with happy scarecrows inviting you in for some cider and molasses cookies to warm the cockles of your heart, wherever that may be. I love fall days down on the farm and the festivals that hit this time of the year are what a harvest moon and a corn shock are created for. The only problem associated with this time of the year is that there are not enough Saturdays to fit all the festivals I want to go to in my schedule.

There is one I try to attend each year and I suggest you do the same. It is located at the Oscar Farris Agricultural Museum in Nashville. The annual Music and Molasses Festival takes place this year October 15 through 16 at the museum located on the grounds of Ellington Agriculture Center in southwest Nashville. It is a special event that draws a large number of people from the Nashville area, as well as across the state. During the two days of the Music and Molasses Festival, visitors have the opportunity to see and taste molasses being cooked over a wood fire by the Guenther family from Muddy Pond, up in Overton County. A horse is used to press the juice from the cane and then the molasses is slowly cooked and skimmed off to produce the final product.

The grounds contain several log cabins and even a log schoolhouse complete with the hickory stick over in the corner to keep kids in order. There is even an old-fashioned lye soap making demonstration outside a log cabin along with folks dressed in period costumes to make the day even more authentic. That lye soap could come in handy this year to help keep the flu virus at bay.

There are spinning demonstrations, wood carving, herb garden information, rides in buggies, broom making, and lots of food and plenty of old time music. It is two days truly made for a celebration of fall and a chance to get your cockles warmed as I have said before.

If you have never been to the Oscar Farris Agricultural Museum then you have missed out on a lot of agricultural history all gathered under one roof. It contains a collection of thousands of agricultural hand tools, implements, artifacts, clothing, buggies, wagons, and just about anything used in agriculture production from days gone by. The collection is housed in a huge white barn, with two levels of exhibits. The Tennessee Agriculture Hall of Fame is also located in the museum. It allows you the opportunity to see how some individuals have made major contributions to the Tennessee agriculture success story. There is not an admission fee to see the museum, and it would surely be worth your time to visit one of the best agriculture information sites in the state.

The museum is under the direction of Anne Dale who has accomplished a major feat. She presents, for the novice, what farming was like in Tennessee from the time the area was settled, up until the era of the introduction of the tractor.

It is molasses time in Tennessee! So cook up some biscuits with creamy butter and let’s get to soppin’. Fall is in the air!




– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com. For more information on the Music & Molasses Arts and Crafts Festival, as well as the Tennessee Agricultural Museum go to tnagmuseum.org.