Mussel Farm on Tennessee River Hosts Pearl of a Tour

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Talk to him for two minutes, and you can tell that Bob Keast knows pearls.

Freshwater pearls have been farmed at his Birdsong Resort near Camden since 1980 – indeed, it’s the only freshwater pearl farm in North America – and he’s been hosting tours of the operation for more than a decade.

Tours, which are conducted from April to November, start with a brief question-and-answer session and video in the marina’s 50-person auditorium. For those with more time to spend, a $55 option is available that includes five hours of lecture and demonstration by the pearl farm’s operators, a 35mm camera to take pictures with, as well as a barbecue dinner with “all the fixings.” The farm is conveniently located along I-40, nine miles north of exit 133 and on the Tennessee River.

“They get to visit with the manager, open up a mussel and see us actually harvest a pearl,” Keast says. “The industry goes back to fifth-century China, and we’re continuing this legacy through this tour and the auditorium.”

For more information or to schedule a tour, call 1-800-225-7469 or visit the Tennessee River Freshwater Pearls website.

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