When Valentine Bush reconstructed a mill on Amos Branch in 1896 with assistance from his sons, Stephen and William and W.T. Frazier, he probably didn’t realize that the family’s livelihood would still be in operation 117 years later.
The celebration of Bush Mill and its recent renovation will be highlighted at the 2013 Bush Mill Days festival. Set for Saturday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds located on the corner of Twin Springs Road and Bush Mill Road, the event features freshly ground cornmeal, homemade apple butter and molasses, crafters, music and food.
According to the “History of Bush Mill,” written by the late Dr. Jay Dixon in April 2008, the original mill burned in 1895 and Valentine and his family rebuilt the current structure in 1896. He wrote that “they surely used the limestone foundation stones—taken from Copper Ridge—that supported the old log mill as well as the 1,500 foot mill race from the limestone dam upstream to the mill.”
Dixon also suggested that part of the wooden race was replaced because it too had been destroyed by the 1895 fire.
The new Bush Mill was framed with “oak beams, joists, and studs and covered the outside with yellow poplar siding from a water sawmill upstream on Amos Branch.” Dixon noted that the first bushel of wheat was poured into the mill at 5 p.m. on Sept. 24, 1897 by Frazier and Frank Stewart. At the time, Bush Mill operated as a grist mill for corn and wheat and it remained for many years the center of community life.
Bush Mill once again becomes the focus of community life on Saturday as current and former residents return for the annual celebration.
Demonstrations planned at this year’s Bush Mill Days include grinding corn into meal, making homemade apple butter in a copper kettle simmering over an open fire, a blacksmith and many other crafters. Artisans are also selling their wares with many offering items for personalization.
Once again, the delicious cooks from the Nickelsville Ruritan Club will be cooking up soup beans and cornbread (made from the freshly meal ground that day) plus hot dogs or polish dogs with peppers and onions.
The musical line-up for the day includes the Lee Smith Singers at 10 a.m., Randy Kilgore and Friends at 11 a.m., the Loose Strings Band at noon and Mason Dixon Band at 2 p.m.
For the first time, organizers are planning a cornhole tournament in conjunction with the festival. Participants will compete for prizes at the tourney, which begins at 1 p.m. There is no entry free to play.
This is a free event with all festivities beginning at 10 a.m. Parking at the mill is limited, but organizers stress that a shuttle bus will be running every 15 minutes from Nickelsville Elementary School to the mill.