Success StorySingin' Gatherin' Old Time Music Day

Singin' Gatherin' Old Time Music Day

Author: Anne Stephens

Planning Unit: Greenup County CES

Major Program: Community Design/Creative Placemaking

Plan of Work: Promoting Leadership and Community Development

Outcome: Intermediate Outcome

June 12, 2021 marked the fifth annual Singin’ Gatherin’ Old-Time Music Day event at the beautiful McConnell House which is located next door to the Greenup Extension Office. The historic home is the perfect setting for the outdoor concert on the side porch which is a beautiful main stage for the event. Greenup Arts is proud to partner with the McConnell House and our local old-time music friends, Kentucky Memories to bring back an event that actually started in 1932 with the American Folk Song Festival. 

Families playing music together is a local tradition and part of our local cultural heritage. When the Fraley family (also related to the Garvins and the Litterals who are Extension volunteers and lead organizers of this event) started the American Folk Song Festival, it was really a family reunion with music. There were so many lines of musicians in the branches of this family that when they all gathered together, a music jam was bound to take place. This event became the Fraley Festival that still goes on today at Carter Caves State Park. 

Greenup Arts is happy to work with the Garvins to make this old event become revived as a new version of the old time tradition of a Singin’ Gatherin’ in Greenup County. People gather, bring instruments to play, singers sing, everyone listens and taps their toes to fiddle tunes, ballads, and folk songs. There is music on the porch all day! 

A special feature for the fifth year of this event, which is becoming a tradition on the second Saturday of June each year, is the partnership with the Greenup County Farmers Market. Greenup Arts provides live music at the market on the first Saturday of each month. For the month of June, there was music two weeks in a row and the festival shared an hour with the market in order to cross-promote both events. It was welcomed by the market vendors and many of them supported the festival by staying over the market closing time with additional produce and items to sell to the new crowd that came to the festival which is held in the same location as the market. 

Many of the festival attendees reported that they had never before visited the Greenup Farmers Market and planned to return to shop.  

Via survey, we learned that many festival attendees were first time audience members at our event and knew of the event through social media or word-of-mouth over other marketing efforts. An equal amount of audience members reported being from Greenup County and outside of Greenup County which leads us to believe that the Singin’ Gatherin’ is impacting local tourism and economic development due to the efforts of Greenup Arts to support the creative economy. 

Festival attendees reported that they learned something or experienced something new by attending the event. One person stated that as an Ohio resident who came across the river to attend this event, it was their first time hearing our state song, “My Old Kentucky Home” sung live in its entirety and they were touched by the lyrics that tell a story about loving one’s home. This statement shows that we are meeting our goal of providing an opportunity for building community pride and a connection to local cultural heritage.    

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