The weekend with the Myers (Madylen and Robert) began when we met at the old barbecue place at the intersection of US76 and GA69 at 8:00am on Friday morning (9/6/96). 259 miles later we pulled into Renfro Valley, Kentucky. After getting set up in the campground on site, we walked over to the ticket office to select the shows we would attend. We bought tickets to the "Barn Dance" and "Jamboree" at 7 and 9pm on Friday, the Ronne McDowell show on Saturday night, and the Sunday morning "Gathering."
The village at Renfro Valley is a walking town area with a school, church, restaurant and shops - and, of course, the Old Barn and the New Barn. The Old Barn was the original Renfro Valley site of music shows, started in 1939. It's all on Highway 25, between Mount Vernon and Berea, Kentucky.
The "Barn Dance" was a traditional type musical, featuring Appalachian and Blue Grass music, while the "Jamboree" was more like modern country music. There were comedy routines in both shows to break the routine. While enjoyable, the music was not outstnading.
On Saturday morning we drove to Berea to the campus of Berea College. It was a beautiful campus with impressive buildings. The most notable feature of the college though is not in the buildings, but in the absence of tuition. Students work 20 to 30 hours a week to pay their way. Much of the work is in the making of crafts that are sold in shops around the area.
The Ronnie McDowell show was loud. We left the New Barn with hurting ears. Why they have to turn those amplifiers up so loud is a mystery. It spoiled any talent the musicians may have had.
The "Gathering" on Sunday morning was perhaps the most enjoyable event of the weekend. We were asked to sing in the choir on stage, so saw the show from the rear.
We said good=bye to the Myers after the "Gathering," and we headed our separate ways. They were destined to Nashville to begin a trek down the Natchez Trace. We started south back toward home. Instead of making it in one day, though, we stopped in Clinton, Tennessee for a visit to the Museum of Appalachia. On a scale from 1 to 10, it was about an 8 - very good exhibition of artifacts from the mountains.
Om Monday, we headed home. The rain was heavy and not conducive to staying out any longer.
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