Thursday, March 26, 2009

Atlanta History Center's Sheep to Shawl Offers Fun for All Ages

Springtime has arrived at the Atlanta History Center! Activities are heating up all over the thirty-three acre campus as the gardens and trails come alive with the full bloom of the season.

As the weather continues to heat up, the sheep at the History Center’s 1860s Tullie Smith Farm become eager to shed their woolly winter coats. These furry coats served them well during the chilling winter months, but have now grown too warm for comfort. It is time for their annual celebratory shearing.

Discover “shear fun” at the Atlanta History Center on Saturday, April 11, 2009 from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm during Sheep to Shawl. Visitors of all ages enjoy a day full of exploration as they take a journey back in time to experience antebellum homesteading at the farm and learn the traditional practices for shearing sheep’s wool.

The journey from Sheep to Shawl begins with sheep shearing demonstrations at 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm. Children delight in the receipt of a handful of wool for keepsake before traveling on to other entertaining hands-on activities and demonstrations as the wool is washed, sorted, carded, spun, dyed, and woven into a beautiful shawl.

Sheep to Shawl offerings also include guided tours of the Tullie Smith Farm house. Explore the farm and experience the customary lifestyle and activities of a nineteenth-century Georgia farm. Interact with costumed living history interpreters as they present authentic demonstrations of wool cleaning and carding, wool dying, weaving, spinning, woodworking, blacksmithing, basket weaving, candle dipping, and open-hearth cooking.

Take in the sounds of old-time fiddle and banjo music provided by the Georgia Potlickers while you tour the farm. Listen to Southern folktales spun for the young and old at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm while traditional games including graces, hoops, and egg races are sure to keep the little ones busy. And, don’t forget to make a special visit to the barnyard to meet, Belle, our newest addition to the Gulf Coast sheep family.

Four years ago, the Atlanta History Center’s Tullie Smith Farm became home to three adult Gulf Coast sheep; two ewes (Poppy and Peaches), and one ram (Napoleon). Gulf Coast sheep are one of the oldest types of sheep in the United States and have existed for several centuries. They were brought to the United States by the Spanish, who began to settle Florida in the 1500s. Later importations of other breeds of sheep mixed with the original population, all evolving under the strong natural selection of the native range conditions of Florida and the other Gulf Coast states. Today a small remnant of this sheep population survives. Gulf Coast breed is today on the critical list, according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. There are fewer than 200 annual

registrations of Gulf Coasts in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000. The Atlanta History Center is helping to bring the breed back. Gulf Coast sheep are characterized by their refined bone structure a non-wooly face, small body, clean legs and their underlines and are white to dark brown in color. This breed was a favorite of Southern farmers because they have a natural resistance to internal parasites and are adapted to the hot and humid conditions of the Southeast.

After a visit to the farm, guests also enjoy excursions to the tranquil Quarry Garden to discover beautiful spring blooms. Guided garden tours are offered at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Inside the museum, delve into one or several of the Atlanta History Center’s signature exhibitions. And, in the Garden Overlook at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM, take in the distinctive sounds of the dulcimer as played in traditional music style by In Town Down Home and Sweet and Lows.

Sheep to Shawl is sponsored by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council and supported by the Poppy Garden Club.

This special program is included with the price of general Atlanta History Center admission. For more information, please call 404.814.4000 or visit www.AtlantaHistoryCenter.com/S2S. Girl Scouts can purchase a special Sheep to Shawl patch for participating in the day’s activities. A special group rate for Girl Scouts is available; call 404.814.4062.
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