BOONES CREEK, Tenn. (WJHL) — Officials Friday inaugurated a new hub for Saturday night gospel and bluegrass music.
The Boones Creek Opry, made possible by donations from Wolfe Development and Hicks Construction, is located at the historic Keefauveer homestead at 632 Hales Chapel Road. The City of Johnson City gifted the organization to the Boones Creek Historical Trust.
Both former Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe and Tennessee State Representative Tim Hicks spoke at the event.
“Heritage goes deep, it’s something that we need to spread. It’s something that we really need to continue working with our young people on,” Hicks said.
He added that the site is located between two high schools and could become a history classroom, thanks to legislation passed this year.
“We can actually bring students here and they can receive a full credit in history if we wanted to do that,” Hicks said. No plans to move forward on such a program have yet been announced.
In a touching display of emotion, Tennessee State Representative Rebecca Alexander spoke of her mother selling the property that she grew up on – the old Keefauveer farm – in the hope someone would turn it into a park. She said it has grown to so much more.
“This can do great things, what the arts does for a community is tremendous and this is just one example of it,” she said. “I can hardly stand before you without tearing up. I know for a fact our mom and dad are rejoicing in heaven because gospel music is being played on their farm.”
The Boones Creek Historical Trust aims for the Opry to be a boon to regionalism.
“Which is simply working together to compete with the outside world rather than competing amongst ourselves,” said Stephen Sebastian. “It starts right here and starts right now. It’s about sustaining this region’s unique culture, our Appalachian heritage not transforming it.”
In addition to musical performances Saturday at 6 p.m., visitors can also participate in craft-making workshops, music lessons and learn more about the history of the Boones Creek community.
Admission to the performances is $2, according to the organization’s website.
“The Opry will be a magnet that keeps people coming again and again to become a part of something beautiful and to keep it going for generations,” Alexander said.
The Boones Creek Opry continues to partner with ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies and Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music program.
“Our students are enjoying this partnership. They are learning they’re playing on this stage. They’re helping preserve the documents and the history and we look forward to many years of that partnership,” Dr. Ron Roach, ETSU Department of Appalachian Studies Chair said.
The museum has no cover charge.
“These scrappy people determined to do what we’re here to celebrate today were the guardians of the history of Boones Creek,” said Johnson City Commissioner Jenny Brock.