Making Knives Out of Rocks in North Georgia

Enjoying the North Georgia Primitive Arts Festival.

Image licensed under CC BY 2.0. Courtesy of erix!

As promised in last week’s post about not losing your time in a fog of Netflix and malaise*, I spent part of this weekend at the North Georgia Primitive Arts Festival/Knap In. As expected, it was fairly small and uniformly delightful. Y’all, it is a truth well established that festival folks in general are friendly, and rural southern festival folks even more so.

You want to feel loved? Haul out to the Georgia Apple Festival, ignore the warnings about chewing tobacco causing mouth cancer, and eat an apple fritter with someone who makes wreaths out of bullet casings.

So, I was just delighted to find myself with my two classmates and professor on a Saturday morning, heading out to Cartersville to hang with people who like to make their own arrowheads, and–in the case of the primitive bowhunter side of the festival–their own arrows and bows, and then shoot deer with them. We rolled up–one of the few cars that wasn’t a truck–around 11am, and headed on in. 

The festival seemed to be composed of a lovely little melange of friendly old dudes, Boy Scout leaders (and their corresponding boy scouts), and people selling hand crafted soap (because those people are at every festival ever). Early on, our professor left us in order to go track down some deer antler (you get to have a fun research budget when you’re in anthropology!) and set us to wander. We took a moment to watch an older man explain some particulars of pressure flaking to a very interested but also very clueless dude, and then wandered to the next tent, where a very friendly professorial man was teaching a scout leader how to make rope out of trees.

There was another educational tent, for artifact identification, but as we had no artifacts to identify we hit up the shopping booths instead. There was a fun mix of things for sale–polished stones, raw flint and chert (hard cores for the hardcore), and bobcat pelts were all hanging out in close proximity. I had a lovely chat with a woman selling stones, which went about like this:

Lady: Y’all up from Atlanta? We’re from Newnan.

Me: I have relatives up in Newnan!

Lady: There was a house fire up there today. Four kids died.

This is the kind of conversation that reminds you that you share a regional home with Flannery O’Conner.

Towards the end of our festival time, I was wandering around with one of the other two students–who is from some much more cosmopolitan place outside of the US–and she spotted the board describing the rest of the festival’s schedule. This led to my second favorite conversation of the weekend:

Her: Oh, brain tanning! That is… a metaphor? I don’t understand how that would work.

Me: Tanning is how you prepare hides to make leather.

Her: So… The brain part is a metaphor? Surely?

Me: No, I think it involves rubbing brains into the skin. I read about it as a child.

Her: … Oh.

She seemed not totally sold on the rural American south after that point.

Other than the primitive arts festival, I managed to totally fail in planning fun things to do with myself. It was a rainy, grey sort of weekend where I should have been many times more productive or social than I was. Instead I spent a lot of time thinking about how I ought to go to the Inman Park Festival and then–as has happened for the last three years or so–not getting it together enough to go. So, not a total success.

That being said, I am glad I managed to go to the one festival I did hit. Hopefully, soon enough the rain will let up and I will graduate, and I will be able to go to every festival between mid-May and Labor Day weekend.

* I’m going to list that as my hobby next time I reactivate my OKCupid profile.

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