Her husband has been known to take credit for the painted pumpkins, a story that most people who know his wife's talents don't believe. Her husband is known for his cooking skills, but once again, it's Marjory Ellis who will put hers on exhibit at the festival. She has some homemade barbecue sauce that she considers top-notch.
"That's what I'm putting in the silent auction," she says of the popular display of one-of-a-kind handcrafted items in a room of the former school. Most of the crafters at the festival contribute an item to the auction similar to ones found in their booths.
Many people may be on the prowl for some of Ellis' paintings, some done on saw blades, but they may not know how her artistic skills contribute to the overall look of the building. A display of stuffed wildlife is arranged around a cave that Ellis built of rocks, moss, leaves and other materials.
Doris Purdom, who has been active with the festival since it started 33 years ago, is one of the people who has been rolling up her sleeves on a daily basis and cleaning up the place for the festival. She usually displays her seamstress skills in the silent auction and this year is no different. She has contributed a denim jacket made from pants her husband, Carroll, outgrew.
"I lined it with my mother's dress. I'm calling this 'beyond vintage.'"
Timberland employees helped
With all the attention to details that the festival involves, Purdom and other festival organizers welcome all the help they receive. This year, they were shocked to receive a phone call from Timberland, which pays its employees to perform volunteer tasks in the county.
"I thought it was a joke when she called me and asked me, 'Do we need help?'" Purdom says.
Timberland sent 10 people who worked all day sweeping and mopping the gymnasium where the bean supper and drama are held Friday and Saturday nights.
This year's drama, "It's About Time," was written by Purdom's granddaughter, Jamie Hamblin. It is the third and final part of a series Hamblin started writing about a country woman marrying a man from the city and the meeting of their families.
"It's going to be real funny," says Purdom, noting that tickets still are available for both nights.
Tickets are $12 and can be obtained by calling Janie Drye after 6 p.m. at (270) 337-2956 or mailing a check to Drye at 1005 Gravel Switch Road, Gravel Switch, Ky., 40238.
The bean supper is one of the big draws to the festival, but the grounds and upstairs and basement of the community center also have craft booths. In addition to the regulars, three newcomers will be at this year's festival. Henry Wilson and Annette Elsasser will demonstrate glass blowing in their booth. Claudia Hovan will have items such as stuffed toys and beaded socks in her craft booth. Angie Johnson will feature scarecrows, stocking stuffers, candy and fall welcome signs in her booth.
The Boy Scout troops will operate a petting zoo with llamas, goats, horses, calves, sheep and rabbits. The Scouts, led by Jimmy Overstreet and Jim Reynolds, will camp on the grounds so they can care for the animals.
A group of longhunters also will have a camp and Gail Holman will set up a teepee and display Native American items.
Other crafts include henna tattoos, candles, soap, hand-carved dough bowls, chair weaving, doll clothes, cloth crafts, old-fashioned toys, watercolor and oil paintings, and old-time photo-taking.
Each year, people can participate in a photo contest. This year's theme is best Forkland photos of people, scenery, buildings, work or fun. Winning photos will be used for the Forkland 2006 calendar. Participants may bring up to a dozen shots by 10 a.m. Friday. The photos that don't win may be picked up late Saturday.
A cake-baking contest is held on Friday. Deadline for entries is 10 a.m. Slices of the cake are sold later.
"We sell it in the coffee shack," Purdom says.
Friday morning is the time for school groups to visit. The field day allows them to experience the past.
Countryside wagon tours are taken to a woodland waterfall. Within walking distance are a working sorghum molasses mill and a Cherokee summerhouse. Genealogical charts and heritage displays are on exhibit in the school.
Of the many activities, Ellis says she considers the pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday a lifesaver. It means she doesn't have to start an already hectic day by making breakfast.
"The finest thing that ever was is the pancake breakfast, especially if you have company."