Recently I came across two interesting news stories discussing unique and fun ways to preserve and teach Appalachian culture. The first story comes from Middlesboro, KY and the other was published in the NY Times and focuses on the Tri-cities in Eastern Tennessee.
Teaching Through Toys
Beason’s Mountain Top Crafts is a family establishment located in Middlesboro, KY. They give demonstrations of traditional Appalachian wood crafting at local festivals and at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Owner Joey Beason has always enjoyed creating with wood and he’s crafted everything from cedar shakes, to dulcimers, to bows. However, Beason says it’s the chance to educate younger generations about their Appalachian heritages through crafting toys that he enjoys most. Having learned the craft from a master woodworker, Beason has taken to teaching himself more about traditional Appalachian toys from books and other sources in hopes of keeping the art form alive for future generations.
The NY Times recently published a travel piece about the history of music and venues in East Tennessee. Starting with the Red Barn, the writer begins exploring the history of string and bluegrass music in the area and takes readers to other historic locations such as Down Home and a pizza/ bluegrass spot known as Jiggy Ray’s.
The author inserts the history and origin of the music that has become synonymous with region. While there’s plenty more to discuss, I feel this is a good primer to Appalachian music and its history and gives anyone who is interested in learning more a good springboard for their own research.