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The Exchange Place Spring Garden Fair will whisk you away

The Exchange Place is holding their 2014 Spring Garden Fair this weekend, and it provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the living history on the Gaines-Preston Farm on Orebank Road in Kingsport, Tenn. The Exchange Place is an amazing historical, educational, and recreational gem hidden away just off of Highway 11W in Kingsport. If you come for the Spring Garden Fair, it is almost a given that you will be back again soon just because this beautiful place will beckon you to return.

With a fiddle playing in the background, a walk through the grounds of the Gaines-Preston farm will be almost surreal. The Exchange Place Spring Garden Fair is a wonderful time to see what this living history farm is all about.
Barbie Crafts
The Exchange Place is like another world.
Barbie Crafts

Within moments of arrival, the outside world fades away and visitors are transported back to the early 1800’s. There are some adults and children milling about in period costume, but the authenticity of the experience is what is truly impressive. Their website explains that the Exchange Place is “listed on the National Register of Historic Places, nine of the ten buildings built between 1816 and 1851 are restored on their original foundations.”

Besides a few long dresses thrown in for good measure, there are horses, sheep, and pigs. There is close access to the animals to snap some great photos, which you can view in the attached slideshow. During the Spring Garden Fair, there are several opportunities to see sheep shearing, which was one of the most fascinating sights to the uninitiated.

The Exchange Place has an avid network of fiber artists. During the year, there are often spinners, weavers, knitters and crocheters practicing their arts throughout the grounds, and the Garden Fair is no exception. There were piles of wool in various stages of the sheep-to-yarn process. Some children were even bent over a washboard, having tremendous fun washing the bugs and brush out of a dirty fleece.

Of course, the plants for sale are supposed to be the main attraction here this weekend. There are varieties of heirloom plants that you probably can’t even find anywhere else. Vegetables, herbs and flowers are available starting at just pocket change. There are even experts on hand to offer advice on gardening, too.

There are many different types of items for sale, too. There is everything from goat cheese to jewelry. It is a good idea to bring a wagon or cart to carry your plants in as you peruse the grounds. There were wagons with small children in them, too. Interestingly, there were just as many attractions and activities for children as for adults, and the children all seemed to be quite entranced with the entire non-digital experience.

The fair continues on Sunday, April 26, from noon to 5 p.m. It is a perfect afternoon escape. The offerings at Exchange Place rival and even surpass many of the traditional historic tourist attractions that are much more well-known. Don’t miss it!

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