Primitive arts on display all weekend
by Matt Shinall
Apr 26, 2012 | 1119 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Flint knappers, fletchers and survivalists will be on hand this weekend to share the secrets of their trade with interested guests.

Beginning today with a preview day for visitors as vendors set up, Gatewood Park on Lake Allatoona will be home to about 40 exhibitors demonstrating the processes used in flint knapping -- the process of shaping stone -- and other primitive arts.

The 13th annual North Georgia Flint Knappers and Primitive Arts Festival is free and aims to provide a family-friendly environment where visitors can learn about the making of arrowheads, spear heads, bows, arrows and other primitive tools and weapons, such as the atlatl -- a spear throwing tool using leverage to increase speed and distance.

"You could learn how to start a fire different ways, you can learn how to weave a basket, we'll have a guy give edible tours in the woods to show you what you can eat and what you can't eat. He's going to put on two of those," said event organizer Michael Blackston. "All day Saturday, we'll have that kind of stuff -- somebody will show how to make arrowheads, arrows and hopefully bows."

The most common sight at this weekend's event may very well be flint knapping as vendors come together to make arrowheads by chipping, or flaking, stones by hand -- a craft used by American Indians and the stoneage people of global ancestry. Those wishing to learn more about the process or how to get started themselves are invited to sit down and speak with any of the vendors.

"All weekend long, there will be people in various places throughout this park sitting around making arrowheads," Blackston said. "That's what they're here for, some come as vendors, some come just for the camaraderie and then we have people who come to learn. People are welcome to come up to any enclosure here and feel free to sit, people will answer their questions. Most people here are very gracious and free with their time."

For Blackston, he enjoys primitive arts shows for the interaction with other flint knappers. He got into the trade after the passing of a mentor who worked with artifacts and recreations. Now, he organizes and attends events to share the skill with others and learn from experienced craftsmen.

"You can make an arrowhead in your backyard by yourself -- but it's the camaraderie," Blackston said. "It's just the culture ... it's people who enjoy the outdoors, who enjoy craftsmanship.

"There's a lot of things other than just arrowheads. Bow making, arrow making, atlatl throwing."

Festivities will begin today as the event takes shape with full exhibitions beginning Friday lasting through Sunday. Offerings will begin about 8 a.m. each day continuing into the evening. Gatewood Park is located at the end of Bartow Beach Road off Spur 20.