By SERINA MARSHALL Staff Writer
The Boones Creek Opry had its official ribbon cutting Friday to welcome Boones Creek residents and tourists to its deep-rooted traditions.
The new Opry barn, located at 632 Hales Chapel Road and dedicated on June 16, was made possible by generous donations of material and labor from Wolfe Development and Hicks Construction.
The Opry is partnering with ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies and Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music program to share resources, engage students, and har- ness the growing potential of cultural tourism in our region.
Mayor Joe Grandy, as well as state representatives Tim Hicks and Rebecca Alexander, spoke at the ribbon cutting for the new Boones Creek Opry House, and the bluegrass entertainment was provided by musicians Jukebox Jess and Bailey George, who are also the MCs for the shows.
“The Opry will be a magnet that keeps people coming again and again, to become a part of something beautiful and to keep it going for generations,” State Representative Rebecca Alexander said. “I’m sure my parents are rejoicing in Heaven to hear gospel music being played on their farm every weekend. Their desire was for this homestead to be a family-friendly park, and they would be thrilled that there is also wholesome entertainment and other activities to keep our region’s unique heritage alive.”
“This is our third year of operation. We started on Oakland Avenue and we had a board member that donated that space to us free for two years, which was an incredible gift,” said Vickie Shell, vice-president of the Boones Creek Historical Trust. “It allowed us to get on our feet. When
we came out here, the city of Johnson City gave us these two acres, we built the barn, and Kelly Wolfe spearheaded that; he is a smart man and quarterbacked this whole thing for us. Tim Hicks did the interior for free and Kelly did the exterior for free. Then Summers Taylor poured the concrete for free and Ferguson Supply did the air conditioners for free, so this is all paid for.”
Shell said that people recognized the special “nugget” that is the Boones Creek Opry.
“We aspire to be the sustaining center of traditional Appalachian culture,” Vicki Shell said, “A place where people can be immersed in our living history and become a part of our traditions, art, and music and pass them on for generations to come. Ultimately this is about enriching our community by keeping in touch with our roots, both for people who have lived here their whole lives and for those who have settled here more recently.”
An artist herself, Shell designed the floors that are inside the Opry space, along with some help from others to make it all come together.
“Three-hundred man hours went into that; 130 were mine,” she said.
The day of the ribbon cutting, attendees were able to have a light summer lunch that consisted of fresh watermelon and barbeque, all while listening to gospel bluegrass music.
“It is the sweetest and purest gospel bluegrass from a group out of Bristol called ‘No Name but His’,” Shell said. “We wanted to set that tone here specially because it has been one little miracle after another that we are even here. We’ve been shown favor on top of favor.”