By Rebecca Mullins
Oct. 23, 2013. On Saturday, Oct. 26, Jefferson hosts the first annual Octoberfest and the second annual Autumn Leaf Festival. The two festivals are linked side by side along the same stretch of road where visitors can experience the German food, music and beer of a classic Octoberfest along with Civil War reenactments, Civil War author talks and heritage crafts of the Autumn Leaf Festival.
Octoberfest runs from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on East Main Street in Jefferson. The Autumn Leaf Festival hosts activities from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Museum of Ashe County History. The museum will be open for extended hours 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and is located at 301 East Main Street in Jefferson.
During the festival, Main Street will be closed to allow for vendors and three stages to be set up. Parking is available in the parking lots of businesses along Main Street, in the medical clinic parking lot and along Court Street behind the Museum.
Both festivals are family friendly and free to attend. Activities for children will be available along the festival grounds and in and around the museum.
For the adults, Jefferson’s Octoberfest will feature a beer garden at J&J’s Chophouse. Drinking is only permitted on J&J’s grounds, but special attention has been paid to place the German Bavarian band directly next to the beer garden so that drinking Octoberfest attendees will be able to enjoy the music.
The Harbour Towne Fest Band, which recently played at the Sugar Mountain Octoberfest, will be strutting their stuff and jamming out classic German songs on the stage next to the beer garden from 10:30 a.m. – 2:3o p.m. The Harbour Towne Fest Band is an interactive band that gets the crowd going by showing them the ropes of basic German dances during their performance.
“They’re amazing and they’re just so interactive. They just keep the music going all day long,” said Loni Miller, Secretary of the Old Towne Jefferson Business Association.
In addition to the stage by the beer garden, there will be a traditional bluegrass band featured on a second stage at the Museum and a DJ playing a eclectic range of music from the 20th century at the third stage near the end of Main Street. The DJ will begin playing at 1 p.m. when a cruise-in of old cars, trucks and motorcycles takes to the road.
Along the street, vendors with handmade crafts and locally-grown food will be available for all your early Christmas shopping needs. Everything from custom made walking canes to delicately crafted jewelry to grass fed beef will be yours for the taking, with a little cash on hand of course.
While Octoberfest celebrates German food, music and beer, the Autumn Leaf Festival commemorates heritage, history and the militia.
Three Civil War authors and a local author will give talks on their works and the time periods in the Museum from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Civil war reenactors will be stationed outside the museum demonstrating, “the everyday soldier,” Romona Renfroe, Director of the Museum of Ashe County History, explained. Members of the national guard will be wearing their uniforms during the festival to show the contrast between the military dress of the Civil War and the military dress of today. Also outside the museum, craftsmen will be present to display such things as spinning and basket making.
The Museum of Ashe County History will be running a few fundraising events during the festival. They are raffling off a 410 double-barrel shotgun with an engraving of a Stephen Shoemaker painting on the stock. The tickets are $10 each and with only 500 tickets printed, everyone has a good chance of winning this rare treasure.
In addition to the tickets for the shotgun, the museum is selling envelopes for a time capsule. The tickets are $25 for a smaller envelope and $50 for a larger envelope. You may fill these envelopes with whatever your heart desires, and come Spring, the lot of them will be sealed up, not to be seen again for 30 years.
These two festivals are going to be a time in Jefferson like no other. Between the German celebrations of Octoberfest and the historical focus of the Autumn Leaf Festival, this will be a wonderful weekend for visitors and residents alike. Grab your coat and come out to enjoy the festivals this Saturday.
“It’s a great time to enjoy Jefferson and the museum and just to be here,” commented Renfroe.