In the last couple of years, more and more Americans have embraced a more self-sufficient lifestyle -- starting a vegetable garden, raising chickens in the backyard, canning tomatoes, learning to sew...the list goes on. Homesteading -- in both rural and urban areas -- is back. Whether you're already an established homesteader or just love looking at log cabins on Pinterest, The Homestead Festival has something for you.
The two-day festival, held at country singer-songwriter Rory Feek's farm in Columbia, Tenn. from June 3 through June 4, features presentations from homestead community leaders such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Joel Salatin, Justin Rhodes and more.
For Feek, the decision to launch the first-of-its-kind event came natural. He lives in a farmhouse on an 150-year-old homestead, where generations of families have raised their own food. Inspired by the Bib & Buckle Fest, a music festival which Feek and his late wife Joey Feek hosted at their farm from 2008 to 2013, Feek sought to combine his love of music and homesteading to launch a festival that celebrates sustainable living. The Homestead Festival will mark the first time Rory has brought outdoor music to his homestead since Joey's passing in 2016.
Feek says he's eager to create a space where folks of all ages and backgrounds can learn about homesteading.
"More people are interested in gardening and where their food comes from and simplifying their lives and homeschooling and home birth," Feek says. "It's just this whole plethora of old skills that have become new again. So we had an opportunity to say, why don't we just make our place a hub for that kind of thing?"
So what's behind the increased interest in this back-to-basics way of life? Feek says he believes as we've grown more dependent on technology, we're more disconnected from our communities than ever.
"As the world is moving faster and information is moving faster, we're about as connected as you could be...As exciting and powerful as it is, I think it has left a lot of people feeling like they should be happier, they should be feeling more fulfilled. Instead, it has left a lot of people feeling more empty. We're more connected in theory than we've ever been, but we're more disconnected [from] individuals and people in our community than we've ever been. We have these networks and all these sort of social things that I think, in theory, could work or replace real relationships and community, but they don't," Feek says. "I think that has been coming around for a while -- this need to simplify. Something inside of us wants to simplify."
The festival, which features lectures and presentations on modern homesteading, farming, making flower arrangements, garden-to-table meals, spinning wool and more, also includes a nightly musical lineup headlined by Yellowstone star Kevin Costner's band Kevin Costner & Modern West. Julie Roberts, The Isaacs, Jimmy Fortune, and the Brotherly Loveproject (Bradley Walker, Mike Rogers, Jimmy Fortune and Ben Isaacs) will also perform throughout the festival.
"Our [festival] really does have a desire to cater to all of the groups and in particular people who maybe never even considered homesteading or asking these questions before," Feek says says. "It might be a family coming through that's really only interested in coming to [hear] the music or to see Kevin Costner, yet they find a booth that has a bunch of baby chicks in it. And then they get to ask questions to people: 'How hard is it to do that? How much room do you need? At what age could you have eggs for your family?' It's a real opportunity to put this information out at an introductory level."
The Homestead Festival runs from June 3 - June 4 at 4765 Hardison Mill Road in Columbia, Tenn.
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