Ole Mill Crank-Up promises a day in the park — of yesteryear

Ole Gilliam Mill Park hosts weekend of live entertainment, arts and crafts
May. 13, 2013 @ 05:00 PM

There's a place just outside the Sanford city limits that captures a snapshot of history and days long gone.

The 33rd Annual Ole Mill Crank Crank-Up — featuring antique mills, tractors and stills, wood working, blacksmithing, pottery, weaving and spinning demonstrations, and various other historical crafts and displays — is set for this coming weekend at the Ole Gilliam Mill Park, located about four miles outside Sanford on Highway 42 West. The festival is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and admission is $5 per person, with children under 12 getting in free. Sunday will also feature an 8 a.m. church service at the park.

Worth Pickard, the president of the park's board of directors and property owner, said the festival offers a variety for families and those who enjoy history. 

"I hope they have a great time and they see something they haven't seen in a long time," Pickard said.

The original mill was washed away in a flood in 1928, and Pickard constructed the Gilliam Mill reproduction during his spare time with parts taken from various working mills around the Southeast. It was completed in 1979. Throughout the years, Pickard said he began to acquire more antique engines and machinery, which he added to the park. While the park is open to the public during the day, the Crank-Up is when it truly shines, he said.

It's the children's reactions to the old water and steam machinery that Pickard said he enjoys the most.

"They get just as wide-eyed as can be," he said.

Board of Directors Vice President Don Steen and his wife, Bessie, both said they have a great time each year at the festival and enjoy helping prepare the park for the onslaught of visitors.

"I hope they see how blessed they are now with modern technology," Bessie Steen said.

Those living in the present need to appreciate the amount of work it took the generations before them to accomplish everyday tasks, Don Steen said. The festival attracts history lovers from across the South, but he said it's sometimes overlooked by locals.

"You'd be surprised by the amount of people who've lived here their entire lives and never knew it was here," he said.

Park Manager Jimmy Bass said people need a working understanding of how things were accomplished in the past, and the festival was one way of learning about the heritage of the area.

"It's a good time, but above all else, it's seeing our history," he said. "History that is fading fast in our modern society. Come and enjoy our day in the park. It's a cheap outing for the family." 


What: 33rd Annual Ole Mill Crank-Up

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Highway 42 West, four miles outside of city limits. 

Admission: $5 per person. Children under the age of 12 get in free.