October Sky fest plans finalized

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By Sharon Littlepage, For Roane Newspapers

The Land of OS — Oliver Springs — is rolling out the welcome mat to visitors at the second annual October Sky Fall Festival to celebrate the family movie and the natural beauty of the area where the film was shot a decade ago.

The Rocket Boys Parade at 9 a.m. Oct. 16 will kick off the all-day festival. The festival, at Arrowhead Park adjacent to Oliver Springs High School, will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The parade will include extras from the movie riding in classic cars, area school bands, antique tractors and a special red-clad guest from the North Pole. The grand marshal will be a surprise celebrity.

Admission is free, and those attending will receive tickets for door prizes to be given throughout the day.

In lieu of an admission charge, visitors are asked to bring a household product or nonperishable food item as a donation to the Oliver Springs Community Ministries, which helps to support deserving families year-round.

An added attraction for 2010 is the Rocket Boys Extras Reunion on Friday, Oct. 15, beginning with a $5 chili supper at 5:30 p.m. in the Oliver Springs Disabled American Veterans Building.

Movie extras, others involved in the production of the film and the public are invited. Call Barbara Hilemon at 435-5064 for details. Several honored guests are tentatively scheduled to appear.

Memorabilia and props from the movie will be displayed, and the film will be shown in its entirety.

“Rocket Boys” was written by Homer Hickam Jr., the son of a West Virginia coal miner. As a high school student, “Sonny” and his friends were inspired by the Russian man-made satellite Sputnik, launched on Oct. 4, 1957, to build their own rockets.

The film, retitled “October Sky,” was shot in Oliver Springs, Harriman, Petros, Kingston, Oak Ridge and Knoxville.

Julia Daniel, chairwoman of the festival planning committee, said the festival is going to continue to grow in both attendance and community outreach.

“Oliver Springs is a special place,” Daniel said. “In some ways, it’s like going back in time, because we have historic homes, churches and businesses, but we also have a strong commitment to preserve them for future generations.

She added, “The land of OS is not just getting older, we’re getting better, and we want to share our history and hospitality with all of East Tennessee.”

Festival attractions include guided tours of homes and buildings used in the movie and a launch of replica of “Miss Riley” rocket and static burn by the Smoky Mountain Amateur Rocketry Team.

An antique car show competition will feature Volunteer Street Rod Association of Knoxville, Walden Ridge Antique Car Club of Harriman, Mountain Shadow Cruisers of Wartburg and Smoky Mountain Model A Club of Knoxville.

There will also be storytelling by Dianne Hackworth; children’s activities, including panning for gold; an Oliver Springs Historical Society country store; and a Fort Southwest Point encampment and cannon firing.

A wide array of seasonal crafters and artists and a variety of food vendors will be featured.

Attractions also include the Three Rivers Antique Tractors & Engines Club, mule wagon rides, quilt show and archives at the Historic Depot and live music featuring The Underwood Brothers Band, Dark Hollow Band, Na-than Fulford and Kenny Smith.

Among the special guests are Fred Schwendel, set department of “October Sky”; Ed Spicer, contractor to NASA on Apollo missions; and Hilemon, publisher of “The Making of Rocket Boys/October Sky as Seen through the Eyes of the Movie Extras.”

The event is sponsored by the Oliver Springs Historical Society, which is restoring the historic Abston Building for use as a museum and archives for hosting events that will educate and entertain the public about the cultural history of the area.

The group is collaborating with the East Tennessee Community Design Center on the project. Volunteers have already replaced the roof and shored up the brick exterior. They are now working to remodel the interior.

Contact Lorraine Boling at 435-0385 or visit the Historical Society website at www.oshistorical.com for details.

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Sharon Littlepage is publicity chairwoman for Oliver Springs Historical Society, organizers of the October Sky Festival and “Rocket Boys” Extras Reunion.