Celebrate history with the Carter Family Memorial Music Festival

Contributed To The Press • Aug 2, 2018 at 6:30 AM

HILTONS, Va. — Ninety-one years ago, a traveling salesman from the foot of Clinch Mountain, his wife and baby and his wife’s eight-months-pregnant cousin took an almost daylong journey in a borrowed Packard.

Their destination? Bristol’s State Street.

Their fate? To become music legends.

The Carter Family’s 44th Annual Carter Family Memorial Music Festival this weekend honors the musical history of the region and event the musicians were traveling to: the historic Bristol Sessions of 1927 by the Victor Talking Machine Company.

A.P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter made a historic trip from their humble homes to Bristol, Tennessee — a trip that would take 30 to 40 minutes today took them most of a day. The weather was extremely hot, Maybelle was eight months pregnant, Sara was nursing baby Joe, and the car — a Packard borrowed from Ezra (A.P.’s younger brother, and husband to Maybelle who was A.P.’s wife Sara’s first cousin)  — was jam-packed full of instruments and family members.

A.P., Sara and Maybelle were on their way to make music history — unbeknownst to them. Two nights and three flat tires later, they made the long journey back to Maces Springs to return to their lives as mountain folk. No one could have been more surprised than the Carters when a 78 rpm record from the Bristol recordings was released by Victor several months later.

Just as they changed the face of American music, their lives — and the lives of their descendants — would be forever changed as well.

Gates at the Fold open Friday 3 p.m., and the music kicks off at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the doors open at noon, and the music will begin at 3 p.m. Carter Family music will be featured both days with Maybelle’s granddaughter, Lorrie Carter Bennett, and long-time Carter Family friend Ronnie Williams.

This year’s festival is dedicated to Frances Robinette, long-time family friend and volunteer in the Carter Museum for many years; Fred Skeens, long-time Fold regular and supporter; to Virginia Carroll — neighbor, volunteer, and Fold supporter from the day our doors opened; and to Stacy Strong — son-in-law of Flo & John Wolfe, husband of their youngest child, Dania, and father to Jacob and Shyanna Strong.

Tickets are available at the gate only; all seats are festival seating. Tickets are $10 for adults on Friday, $20 for adults on Saturday, or both days $25 for adults. Children ages 6 to 11 are admitted for $5 a day; and children ages 5 and younger are admitted for free. 


Five Mile Mountain Road


Uncle Shuffelo & His Haint Hollow Hootenanny

Whitetop Mountain Band

Hogslop String Band

Volume 5

For additional information, visit the Carter Fold website at www.carterfamilyfold.org/.

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