Iron Park’s Fall Festival is Oct. 11-12

Historic Shelby Association, Inc.'s member Harry Burks, Historian Jerry Willis and President Tom Trimble stand next to on of the Shelby Iron Parks steam engines as they plan for the fall festival Oct. 11-12. (Contributed)

Historic Shelby Association, Inc.’s member Harry Burks, Historian Jerry Willis and President Tom Trimble stand next to on of the Shelby Iron Parks steam engines as they plan for the fall festival Oct. 11-12. (Contributed)

By Phoebe Donald Robinson / Community Columnist

Step into the past at the Shelby Iron Park’s Fall Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11-12, 2014, and reminisce life in the early 1900s. The festival, sponsored by the Historic Shelby Association, is held each year on the second full weekend in October at the Shelby Iron Park located on Shelby County 42 off Shelby County 47 in Shelby.
The fun-filled event starts with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Sat. from 7-10 a.m. for $5 to raise funds for the association. The all-day festival is free; bring your lawn chair and stay awhile.
Music will be provided by The Last Chance Band. Vendor wares ($15/one day; $25/2 days; call 670-0142), antiques and crafts will be available for sale as well as country cooking, burgers, dogs, boiled peanuts, beans and greens. There will be demonstrations by blacksmiths and the huge sawmill. Come view the tractors and antique cars. Take a hay ride, watch the tractor parade and buy your fall pumpkin.  The grist mill will be grinding and organic corn meal will be for sale.
One of the highlights of the annual festival is the 100 percent pure sorghum cane syrup made from sugar cane to bottled syrup, available for sale. The sugar cane has been growing all year and is cut, ready to be stripped.
The stripped cane will be fed into the press and the juice will be collected into 55 gallon barrels. Then the juice is cooked over a fire in an elevated cooking stainless steel pan to remove any water. The 11-foot-by-3-foot pan is segmented is a snake-like maze pattern where the juice, soon to be syrup, will make its way to be bottled at the end of the process. This pure organic syrup will be for sale at the festival.
The park is a museum in itself. During the 1800s and early 1900s, the Shelby Iron Works was the South’s largest charcoal-fired blast furnace. Without the preservation efforts of the association, this important landmark would have disappeared. Come to the festival and view the furnaces, commissary, train scales, Confederate monuments, museum, chemical plant, steam engine, machine shop smoke stack, hammer and more. To view the history, see Shelbyironworks.com.