Preserving traditions is a big part of living in Appalachia, and that can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.
Some pass on recipes, others pass on banjo licks, still others show their kids how the people that lived in this area before us made do with what they had.
For the Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation, preserving tradition means raising funds for groups that embrace both the past and the present in this area. Some of the groups that received funds last year were the Watauga Historical Association, who sought to restore the Green Hill Cemetery, and the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, who brought the Watauga Valley Fife & Drum Corps to present a living history demonstration at Sycamore Shoals.
“We’re trying to preserve part of the culture of this area,” said Erik Anderson, the foundation’s chairman. The group raises funds in a number of ways, including a charity golf tournament and a music festival dubbed “Strumfest.”
The group’s goal, according to Anderson, is to help groups that build up the communities in Carter County meet their goals when they are in need of funding.
“When you live some place, you can either choose to be a part of that place and improve it, or you can just exist,” said Anderson.
According to the East Tennessee Foundation, a group affiliated with the community organizers, the primary purpose of the Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation is to “build community goodwill, seek to solve community challenges and produce results for the benefit of communities located in Carter County.”
One of the projects that benefitted from the community group last year was a City of Elizabethton initiative to train people on the importance of the city’s historic district. The Historic Zoning Commission taught residents about the rich history of Elizabethton, while also giving a boost to modern businesses that have sprung up in the historic district of town.