Boones Creek, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Boones Creek Historical Trust Museum and Opry received a $750,000 grant from the state of Tennessee.
The funds will be used to renovate the Opry venue. Currently, there is one music stage. After the renovations, there will be 3 different music stages. Two inside, and one amphitheater outside. A paved parking lot will also be added.
Board members say that the opry house fills up quickly each Saturday night.
“Right now this building, if we push it, we can cram 120 people in there,” said Vicki Shell, the Vice President of the Boones Creek Historical Trust. “This will give us seating for 300. So, it’ll triple our capacity. And we are at capacity every Saturday night. It’s just packed.”
“Sometimes we have to open the doors and put chairs outside,” said Charlie Whitehead who is on the Boones Creek Historical Trust’s board of directors. “So, when we get the expansion built we won’t have to do that no more. We’ll have enough room for everybody.”
The Boones Creek Historical Trust works to preserve the cultural importance of Appalachian music.
“I think that this type of music is what people remember their grandparents and their aunts and uncles singing around the campfire on the porch,” said Heather Rupe, volunteer and performer. “And it is our heritage.”
Retired pastor and board member Jack Oates gives a prayer and a short history lesson before the opry performances.
“We try to introduce the audience here who’ve come for music, to the history side of of our operation of the trust,” said Oates. “And it may involve some antique implement that was used in this area, maybe a old home in the area, maybe some story about the history of this part of the country, like a story, Daniel Boone story or something.”
The Boones Creek Opry also hosts workshops and music classes throughout the week. A musical circle jam is hosted every Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m.
“We just go in here and we make a big circle with our chairs and you just come and bring your instrument and we just go from one to the next,” said Whitehead.
Vicki Shell says the family atmosphere at the opry is unparalleled.
“It’s the people’s stage, that’s what this is,” said Shell “It’s not really big names coming through. It’s the people’s stage. This is our culture. This is what we do.”
The total renovation will be around one million dollars. The other $225,000 that’s not from the state, will come from Boones Creek Historical Trust fundraising. Construction is expected to start near the end of the year.
Live performances take place every Saturday night at 6pm, followed by an open mic at 7pm.