By Ashley Rader
It should be a toe-tapping good time when the first Strumfest, a celebration of Carter County’s musical roots, takes the stage Saturday, Oct. 6, at T.A. Dugger Junior High beginning at 7 p.m.
StrumFest will feature a trio of local bands representing different verses of Carter County’s musical heritage.
“We hope this event will educate, celebrate and entertain,” event organizer Erik Anderson said. “First, it will remind us of the types of music that represent our heritage of music in Carter County. Second, it will celebrate our local talent and culture. Third, it will entertain us with good foot-stomping and singing-along music.”
All money raised by StrumFest will benefit the Elizabethton/ Carter County Community Foundation, which will distribute the funds to local charities.
The foundation traditionally holds two fundraisers each year — a golf tournament in the spring and a musical event in the fall. Anderson said the fundraiser was chosen to highlight the music heritage of Carter County, and the plan is to make StrumFest an annual event.
Anderson said three types of music from Carter County will be highlighted during StrumFest: “old time,” Celtic or traditional bluegrass and progressive bluegrass.
The “old time” music will be performed by TV Barnett and the Roan Mountain Moonshiners. The Fiddlin’ Carson Peters Band will highlight Celtic bluegrass, and Cooking With Grass, featuring Jeff Sharpe and Sheriff Chris Mathes, will represent progressive bluegrass.
“Old time was the music of our first settlers,” Anderson said. “Old time music gets you moving and was about folks getting together, and good fiddle and banjo playing is always present. Bluegrass grew out of old time music and added more instruments, such as the guitar and mandolin. It was bluegrass that gave birth to the country music we have today.”
Each band will perform for 30 minutes, and Anderson said other entertainment would take place between sets. He said he was working with a shape-note singing group to perform, and some of the musicians would display the more unusual instruments they play or provide information about the more common instrument types.
StrumFest is expected to last from 7-9 p.m.; doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at Carter County Bank locations, the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce or by calling Jim Wilson at 543-1938 or Anderson at 772-3010.
Tickets not purchased in advance will be available at the door.
Anderson said tickets were limited to 500. “We do have a limited number of tickets and they should sell fast,” he said.
In the past two years, the ECCCF has distributed $14,910 to local non-profits that are either based in Carter County or serve the people of Carter County.
In 2010, grant recipients were:
• Assistance and Resource Ministries, $1,500, which used the funding to help provide shoes, coats and school supplies to needy Carter County children;
• East Tennessee Spay and Neuter, $1,000, which funded a low-cost spay and neuter program and provided assistance to low-income families for surgery for pets;
• Roan Mountain Recreation Foundation, $1,500, which was used to build a drinking fountain and benches at Roan Mountain Community Park;
• Carter County Master Gardeners, $1,000, used to install a butterfly garden at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park; and
• Watauga Historical Association, $2,000, used to install a sign at Green Hill Cemetery listing the names of veterans buried there.
The 2011 grant recipients were:
• Appalachian Family Outreach, $500, used to pay for postage for care packages and letters to active duty military;
• Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council, $1,000, used for a sign and a map for the Hampton Watershed Bicycle Trail;
• East Tennessee Spay and Neuter, $2,000, used to provide more educational materials and cover transportation costs for its low-cost spay and neuter program;
• Frontier Health, $1,000, used to provide nights out for special needs Carter County children;
• Hands On! Regional Museum, $1,410, used to make 15 classroom program visits to Carter County schools; and
• Watauga Historical Association, $2,000, used to install a fence around Green Hill Cemetery.
The funds raised from the spring Peggy Merryman Golf Tournament and from Strumfest will be used to provide the 2012 ECCCF community grants.
“The money raised by the foundation goes right back into the Carter County community,” Anderson said. “All of the agencies used the money to benefit Carter County.”