“Red Boiling Springs’ growth as a resort was built on the reputation of its abundant mineral waters. In the 1920s, there were said to be over 50 springs in the Red Boiling Springs area, and five different kinds of water, from “freestone” or plain water to the “Double and Twist”, a highly mineralized sulfur water” (Simple Pleasures, page 24).
Red Boiling Springs celebrates its colorful history as a health/spa resort town in the 1920s and 1930s each year with its annual Folk Medicine Festival. Held the first Saturday in June, the festival began in 1985. After a 10 year hiatus, Vision 2020 Inc began hosting the festival in 2012. “The goal of the festival is to pass on knowledge, skills and traditions that ensure the survival of folk activities, from old-time medicine and natural healing arts to those arts and crafts that demonstrate the traditional, handmade way of not only creating art but useful household items.” These activities and knowledge are part of the foundation on which Red Boiling Springs was built.
The Arts and Crafts Market; sponsored by the Macon County Arts Council; features woodcrafters, jewelry makers, soap and lotion makers. You might visit with a spinner at her wheel or listen to the calming sounds of a Native American playing his flute. The Arts and Crafts Market is located in the Palace Park. Live entertainment and the food court are offered in the parking lot of the Palace Care and Nursing Home across from the Arts and Crafts Market.
Another project of Vision 2020 Inc is restoring the historic bank building on the corner of Market and Main Streets. The building will be open during the festival to show the progress of the restoration work and to display several items that tell the story of Red Boiling Springs and its history as a health resort town.
Educational presentations have always been a part of the Folk Medicine Festival. Every effort is made to invite experienced experts to share their knowledge with festival attendees. Speakers Hall is in the classroom of the Step Back in Time shop on Main Street just down the street from the Arts and Crafts Market. Speakers include: Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer; Terri Tomac, Melissa Falls, Alara Ridge Farms and Darlene Gunther. Check out the Folk Medicine Festival Facebook page for more information on these presenters. There is a $2 fee to attend each session.
The Village is a special part of the festival. Located behind the old bank building, demonstrators will show how they create various historical activities from blacksmithing to basket weaving and fabric weaving. The second live entertainment stage is in the Village, featuring acoustic/folk/country/gospel fare. Bring your lawn chair and come sit a spell.
Honoring one of the oldest traditions is the Festival Quilt Show in the fellowship room of the church of Christ facility just down from the Village. Sponsored by Citizens Bank, quilts from the surrounding area are on display. Come and vote for your favorite. Entrance fee to the Quilt Show is $2.
The festival covers most of the historic downtown area of Red Boiling Springs. You will want to save time to visit the three historic hotels in town: the Armour’s Red Boiling Springs Hotel, the Donoho and the Thomas House. Each hotel has its own personality to enjoy. The Armour features the only functioning historic mineral bath house left in the state. The Donoho, the oldest of the three and a venue for several concerts a year, has recently had a beautiful face lift. The Thomas House is known for their antiques, live dinner theater and ghost hunt weekends.
Come spend the day – June 6, 2020 – in beautiful, historic Red Boiling Springs, TN!!
“Americans were less driven and business-oriented, and more willing to lay aside work for play; they exhibited ‘a power to draw happiness from simple and innocent pleasures.’” – Foster Dulles, A History of Recreation