When Old Iron Works Days begins this weekend for the 34th consecutive year, an estimated 10,000 people will travel back to a time when people lived in harmony with their environment.

"I think the appeal is that it gives people an insight into simpler times as far as lifestyle and how we did things in the 1800s," said Mark Benton, regional manager for The James Foundation. "I think there is a renewed interest in the craftwork that was done at the time."

During this highly anticipated event, more than 40 crafts vendors will display their work amid the natural backdrop of Maramec Spring Park. And with the rustic sounds of live bluegrass music in the air, the concept of time travel will become something of a reality for the community.

Craft displays and demonstrations include basket-weaving, blacksmithing, quilting, woodworking and rope-making. Some will even be clad in their 1800s-era clothing for the sake of authenticity.

Benton says the turnout last year was estimated at 10,500 during the two-day event. With fall weather upon us, The James Foundation takes pride in this annual event, describing it as the perfect fall festival.

"The fact that it's not only in the setting of Maramec Spring but also the family atmosphere that we try to create makes this the perfect setting and the perfect activity," Benton said. "It's a good event for people to have a good time and see how things were done many, many years ago."

The event will take place from noon until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Musical acts include the Open Range Bluegrass and Misty Mountain Bluegrass bands. The Ozark Spirit Cloggers will also be on hand to perform.

Other activities include games for the kids and great food, along with crosscut sawing, spinning, weaving and rug-hooking demonstrations.

Maramec Spring Park is located six miles southeast of St. James on State Route 8. The cost of admission is $15 per day, per carload or free with an annual Maramec Spring parking pass.

For more information, contact the James Foundation at 265-7124.