There is something primal and alive about a campfire. American author and wilderness advocate Sigurd Olson wrote this of their effect: "Something happens to a man when he sits before a fire. Strange stirrings take place within him, and a light comes into his eyes which was not there before. An open flame suddenly changes his environment to one of adventure and romance."
This month, Outdoor Chattanooga will begin their annual series of family fireside evenings at Sniteman Cabin at Greenway Farm in Hixson. The idea, which was developed by Outdoor Chattanooga programs coordinator Terri Chapin, is to bring families together to enjoy the simple joy of a campfire and grassroots community entertainment.
"Campfires are traditional American fun, like when everyone used to sit on the back porch and play music," Chapin said. "Fireside at Greenway Farm is a chance to unplug from the world and spend some time together in the great outdoors under an open sky."
What: Fireside at Greenway Farm
When: Thursdays, Sept. 26, Oct. 10, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Sniteman Cabin at Greenway Farm
How much: Free
For more information: Click here or call 423-643-6888
In its third year, Fireside at Greenway Farm will take place on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. beginning Sept. 26 and running through Oct. 24. Participants should bring along chairs or a picnic blanket, flashlights, bug spray and campfire treats to enjoy a fun evening outside.
Each of the five Fireside events will feature entertainment by local musicians. On Sept. 26, the Folk School of Chattanooga will lead an old-time music jam, and participants are invited to bring along their own instruments. On Oct. 3, Randy Steele and Friends, part of the Slim Pickins Band, will perform. Lou, Lynn and Daniel Wamp will share their bluegrass talents Oct. 10. Tango, a string ensemble from GPS, will perform Oct. 17. The final Fireside event will feature storyteller Vincent Ivan Phipps, who will tell spooky, family-friendly Chattanooga stories.
Fireside at Greenway Farm is a free event, and Chapin said she is especially appreciative of the musical talent that participates.
"All of the musicians and entertainers do this pro bono out of the goodness of their hearts, so we really appreciate that," she said.
Past years' Fireside events have drawn 50 to 100 people from all around the Chattanooga area.
"I love how it provides unprogrammed time for kids to be kids—they just run around and play together," Chapin said.
Families are invited to bring along marshmallows to roast or all the fixins for s’mores. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed at Greenway Farm, which is a city park.
"One year, a really sweet German family came, and instead of roasting marshmallows to cook s’mores, they had made cinnamon dough and wrapped it around sticks and roasted it," Chapin said. "The woman worked the dough in a big bowl and prepared it there on-site. Everyone was so interested in learning from them—I would say they stole the show that night."
This year, participants may be able to purchase ready-made, s’mores-making supplies at the event, Chapin said. An Eagle Scout candidate who is building a new canoe rack along a section of North Chickamauga Creek that runs through Greenway Farm is planning to sell all the makings for sweet campfire treats in order to raise funds for the project. The former canoe rack was destroyed this summer because of heavy rains.
For families that want to paddle North Chickamauga Creek, Outdoor Chattanooga will have canoes, paddles and lifejackets available for rent from 6 to 7:30 p.m. during Fireside event evenings. The cost is $10 (cash and checks only). Lifejackets are sized for adults and kids ages 5 and older, so children younger than age 5 should have their own lifejackets. Equipment is available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Olson once wrote, "My whole life has been a series of campfires." Outdoor Chattanooga's Fireside at Greenway Farm offers families the opportunity to create such memories.
To learn more about Fireside at Greenway Farm, call Outdoor Chattanooga at 423-643-6888 or email email@example.com.
Jenni Frankenberg Veal is a freelance writer and naturalist living on Walden’s Ridge, whose writing interests include conservation, outdoor adventures and history in the Southeast. Visit her blog at www.YourOutdoorFamily.com.
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