The Byron Herbert Reece Centennial Festival of Remembrance
Saturday, September 23, 2017
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At the Reece Farm and Heritage Center
Join us as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Byron Herbert Reece with special speakers, events, and music.
Highlights will include:
The North Georgia Chamber Symphony Quartet performing Reece favorites …
Readers Theatre dramatic reading from a 1979 project at Young Harris College …
Remarks by Pastor Jan Devereaux, who knew Reece’s brother …
Remarks by John Kay, founding Chairman of the Reece Society …
Announcement of Reece commemorative granite marker at the Reece Park on Blood Mountain (to replace the bronze marker stolen from 1959 memorial) that will contain Reece’s poem, I Go By Ways of Rust and Flame, and a photo …
More information coming soon! Mark your calendars and plan to spend the day enjoying the mountains and honoring the life and talent of this native son.
Saturday, August 19, 2017, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. come to the Farm for the 4th Annual ‘Maters and Music at the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center. Enjoy FREE tomato sandwiches! Eat your sandwich beside the creek while enjoying music from the Shady Grove UMC Bluegrass Band and the Appalachian St. Andrews Pipes & Drums. While you’re there walk through the exhibits to learn more about the farm life in th Appalachian region in the early 20th century and the life and work of Byron Herbert Reece. Be sure to visit the gift shop for local crafts, foods, books, cards, and unique gift items. Admission is free. It’s a great time to spend a day in the mountains!
During these winter months the Reece Farm awaits the coming spring when nature revives and the gates to this hallowed venue reopen to the public. One can picture the Reece family hunkering down to withstand the bitter cold, enjoying close proximity to the welcomed warmth of the fireplace. We may fancy that it was during a typical January evening that our poet was led to pen the words of the following poem, entitled “A Fire of Boughs” (from The Season of Flesh, 1955).
At onset of December
When the cold comes to stay
I bring boughs, leafed in May,
To feed the cheerful ember
And warm the wintry night.
Folded into his fur,
The cat disdains to stir
But dreams by firelight.
And I should follow suit
Except that boughs in turning
Shapeless in the burning
Alarms the more than brute
Caged within my being
That often plays at blind
But stirs and shakes my mind
With grave misgiving, seeing
Wood fall from coal to ash,
Its substance burned to nothing,
Its luminescent clothing,
Its shine, its flash,
Expended, one with night—
And is not comforted
That such translation shed
Both warmth and light.
What are your musings these winter days? However pleasant or perplexing they may be, we hope you will plan to come our way again in April, where a visit to the Reece Farm and Heritage Center may bring you both warmth and light.
Many locals are discovering a great place to visit and learn about some special area history. The Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center on US 129 a mile north of Vogel State Park has wonderful displays, authentic farm buildings and equipment, and offers self-guided tours via an app available from Itunes or googleplay. And best of all, this year there are NO ADMISSION FEES! (Facility rental fees for groups or weddings still apply.)
The Farm preserves several buildings that local farmer and writer Byron Herbert Reece used during his lifetime. The displays provide detailed information about farm life in the early 20th century, but they also teach about Reece’s three books of poetry and two novels, and the impact they still have today.
There’s a small amphitheater beside Wolf Creek, and a large pavilion, so the Farm has become popular as a site for events like weddings and family reunions. Union County Recreation department is partnering with the Byron Herbert Reece Society to manage the venue. Due to this partnership, the Farm will be open one additional day per week. Professional staff will be present during normal operating hours, and volunteers from the Reece Society will be available most days to assist guests. Both staff and volunteers are very knowledgeable about Reece and can answer most questions about him or about farm life in his era. A gift shop offers Reece-related items and locally-produced crafts.
Official opening day is Wednesday, April 13. are Wednesdays through Saturdays 10:00 AM-4:00 PM, and Sundays 1:00-4:00 PM. Closed Monday/Tuesday except by special arrangement for meetings or groups. Call 706-745-2034 for more information. The Reece Center is 9 miles south of Blairsville, 1 mile north of Vogel State Park on US 129, on the same side of the highway as Vogel. Also visit the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center on FaceBook, or visit the Byron Herbert Reece Society at byronherbertreecesociety.wordpress.com.
In the first half of the last century, in that period when Byron Herbert Reece and his family lived on the acreage now constituting the Reece Farm and Heritage Center, the months of winter were anything but idle. The land enjoyed its recuperation time, but the male occupants attended to such duties as mucking stalls, mending fences, cutting and sawing wood for cooking and warmth, sharpening tools, animal slaughter, etc. The womenfolk were busy as always with household duties, which included mending and making clothes, butchering and canning pork and beef, cleaning house, and preparing meals. Everything was in preparation for the coming seasons.
Time and its relentless changes have substantially altered this scenario.
Now, in the four months the Center is closed, there is a noticeable lack of activity at the Reece home place.
Only occasionally does anyone appear for anything more than minor maintenance. Some work involving cleaning and inventorying intermittently occurs within the Welcome Center. Prospective brides are being met for a tour of the venue, and weddings are being scheduled for the months of the Center’s open season. The garden spot lies fallow, awaiting spring tilling.
But in March the pace will quicken. Staff members and volunteers will reappear to begin preparations for the April opening. The gift shop stock will again be restored to its rightful places, and new items for sale will be added. The exhibit areas will be cleaned and made ready for public viewing. The grounds will be cleared of fallen limbs and other debris. Volunteers will be contacted and scheduled, and new ones recruited.
All in anticipation of Thursday, April 7th—the very first day of the 2016 open season, the fifth for the Reece Farm and Heritage Center.
There’s a nip in the air, a fragrance of apples and hay and corn put away for the winter, and a rustle of leaves – it’s the perfect time to visit the Reece Farm and Heritage Center and spend some time just slowing down to enjoy this all too brief season.
Thanks to the creative efforts of Union County kindergarten classes, a dozen or so scarecrows have taken their stand at the Reece Farm and Heritage Center. Instructed and assisted by their teachers, these students had great fun in dressing and assembling their respective scarecrows, leading to an impressive variety.
This project was a joint venture involving the Reece Society’s Special Events Committee, chaired by Shirley Cole, and the Union County School System, with kindergarten teacher Jennifer Turner as the coordinator. Mrs. Cole supplied the materials and suggestions for assembly, and the children and their teachers put together the scarecrows for public display.
The families, friends, and general public are invited at no charge to visit the Reece Farm in the remaining open days in October to see the handiwork of these students. Should visitors also wish to tour the Farm exhibits, they may do so for a fee of $4.00 for those 12 and older.
The Reece Farm and Heritage Center is located one mile north of Vogel State Park on Highway 129, and is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 10:00 to 5:00 and on Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00.
If you are visiting the North Georgia Mountains this Fall, don’t miss a stop at the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center. It is the perfect pause in your busy travels in the area.
Visit the exhibits to see how Georgia’s Mountain Poet lived and worked and how farming was done in the mountain area during his lifetime. Wander through the gardens and walking paths, enjoy the sound of the creek and the beauty of the season, and bring a picnic and dine at a creekside table.
Be sure to visit the Gift Shop where you will find beautiful locally produced items so you can get a head start on your Christmas shopping.
It was a perfect summer day at the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center to celebrate the 2nd Annual ‘Maters and Music. The valley rang with music from two great local bands, The Shady Grove UMC Bluegrass Band and the Bennie Shook Family Band, while volunteers served juicy tomato sandwiches with iced tea. There was a lot of toe-tappin’ and lip-smackin’!
A rare bargain for a day of fun in the Mountains! The $4.00 admission price for this day includes tours of all Reece Farm and Heritage Center exhibits and facilities, the opportunity to share one of summer’s best treats – homegrown tomatoes, and enjoy some terrific Bluegrass music from local Blairsville musicians. For more information on the Band, check out their Facebook page at Shady Grove UMC Band.
While you’re visiting, don’t miss the amazing crafts, art, books, and other locally produced items in the gift shop. Take home something special to remember your visit.