We love the Smoky Mountains. Wish you were here!

100 Years Ago, Getting Syrup for Your Pancakes Was No Easy Task


There was no running to the corner market for a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth. You had to grow and harvest the sugar cane, grind the stalks in a horse-powered cane mill, and boil the pulp in a wood-fired cooker …all before pouring the syrup over your pancakes.

gsm75_verticalThis 19th century sorghum syrup-making process will be the centerpiece of the Mountain Life Festival on September 19 at the Mountain Farm Museum, on the banks of the Oconaluftee river near Cherokee. For more than 35 years, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s Fall Festival has provided visitors with a glimpse into the past as they make soap, apple cider, sorghum molasses, hominy, traditional toys, music and more. The syrup making demonstration is provided by students, staff, and volunteers from Swain County High School through a cooperative agreement with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

As part of the GSMNP’s 75th Anniversary, this year’s festival will include a special showcase of Appalachian folkways. Tools, farm implements and historic photographs from the Park’s archives and artifact collection will be on display to help pay tribute to the former residents who lived where the Park now stands.  Music will be provided by Marshall Crowe and the Bluegrass Singers.

The purpose of the Mountain Life Festival is to share with park visitors some of the traditional fall activities that were an important part of rural life in the southern mountains. The spirit of cooperation that existed among families and neighbors is reflected in this event. You can view a preview in this video from the sponsoring Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Mountain Life Festival (free)
Saturday, September 19
10 am – 4 pm
Mountain Farm Museum
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Oconaluftee Visitors Center
Cherokee, NC

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