By SERINA MARSHALL
Staff Writer [email protected]
The Jonesborough Genealogical Society hosted their third annual Heritage Fair this past weekend in Jonesborough.
“This has been happening since 2019. This is actually the fourth one we’ve planned, but COVID got one in 2020,” said Chad Bailey, organizer of the event. “We did one in 2019, which was a one-day festival, then last year and this year we moved it from May to September, and it was a two-day festival both years.”
Bailey added that the turnout this year was better than they have had at past events.
“Some of those in attendance were from other counties, so it’s really a regional event,” he said. “But we celebrate Washington County history.”
The purpose of the event, according to Bailey, is to preserve and teach future generations about the region’s history and heritage.
“We want to teach about diversity and inclusion. It’s about the area being a melting pot for all different cultures and diversity in people groups that came together in this area and all the events that helped turn the tide of the nation,” he said.
The Heritage Fair brings attendees and vendors from all walks of life, including Over- mountain Men re-enactors Gordon Sisk and Tom Vaughn.
“I taught history for 32 years, but I’ve been a lover of history for all my 65 years,” Sisk said. “It has always been my passion to teach history, and I’m an actor from way back. I love telling stories and dressing up. I did that in class. I was the crazy teacher who dressed up.
“When I retired, the Overmountain Men march occurred the 23 of September through October 7 every year where they re-enact that march. I joined that. My passion is telling the story and that’s what this group is all about.”
The group of re-enactors travel around the area and beyond educating and telling the story of the history of the area, Sisk said.
“It’s a group of people that most everybody can trace back to somebody at King’s Mountain,” he continued. “It drives that passion.”
An engineer by trade who didn’t care for history at all in school, Vaughn said he always wanted to do one of the overmountain marches.
“Twelve years later, I’m the treasurer of the organization and I do the government contracts we have for year-round interpretation for the annual march and all the bookkeeping that goes with it,” Vaughn said. “Assisting planning the annual march
is somewhat akin to doing a military campaign. By the time we finish, it will involve around 10,000 people in three weeks. He said he teaches? Yes, we do. We will get out close to 10,000 students in three weeks. And we tell them what happened in their own backyard.”
Vaughn said they teach about history the entire 330 miles of the Over Mountain Victory Trail.
Roger Teinert of the George L. Carter Railroad Museum at East Tennessee State University said he also teaches about history; however, his teaching takes place along the G.L. Carter Railway.
“The reason we have this museum at the university is that George L. Carter donated the land to the university back around the year 1900,” Teinert explained. “He owned the Clinchfield Railroad that ran beside the university. He gave them $150,000 to start ETSU. He started Clinchfield to get it to the coast. He never wrote anything down; it was all a handshake.”
Teinert also oversees the Big Train shows that occur every June at the ETSU mini- dome.
“I lived in Kansas City, born in Texas. Kansas City is a big railroad town. But I didn’t get interested in trains until I moved here and retired. I made it a hobby and have been with the museum 12 years now,” he said. “It gets to you. It grows in you. I am more public relations for the museum. Like the train show, vendors come in with their model and antique trains and sell them. The event is a fundraiser and they money goes to the university.”
Bailey said that they reach out to heritage organizations, living historians and re-enactors to be a part of the Heritage Fair each year around the region.
We then put it out to anyone else that wants to do it,” Bailey said. “They have to have a specific relation to area history, heritage and culture. One of our long-term goals is to begin working with schools to try and promote history. ‘