Carter Family Fold Memorial Festival kicks off Friday

Marci Gore • Aug 3, 2016 at 9:00 PM

HILTONS — Music lovers from across the region and beyond will descend on Scott County this weekend to help the Carter Family Fold celebrate its 42nd Carter Family Memorial Festival.

The event, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. and resumes Saturday at 3 p.m., pays tribute to the lives and achievements of the original Carter Family with two days of bluegrass and old-time music, handmade crafts and home-cooked food.

The Carter Family Memorial Music Festival was inspired by the Carter Family patriarch, A.P. Carter, who recognized the need to preserve the music of the Appalachian region. A.P.’s daughter, Janette Carter, launched the festival and later added weekly concerts — all in an effort to honor her father’s wishes. Janette passed away in 2006, but today her daughter, Rita Forrester, continues the family tradition.

Twelve-year-old EmiSunshine will serve as the 2016 festival’s headlining act with sets Friday at 7:30 and 9 p.m. Often described as an “old soul,” the East Tennessee prodigy has captured the nation’s attention as a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Despite a given name that reflects optimism, EmiSunshine is drawn to darker themes of pain, anguish and even murder. 

This year’s event is dedicated to the memories of Glenn Jones, husband of the late Helen Carter, who was the daughter of Maybelle and Ezra Carter; longtime Carter Fold volunteer Ray Carter; and Belle, Carter Family Fold Executive Director Rita Forrester’s dog. Belle was a big, friendly Great Pyrenees who often greeted visitors at the Fold. Forrester says Belle was most visible on the nights when there was old time-music, since that is what she preferred over bluegrass. Belle passed away earlier this summer.

Music will get underway Friday at 6 p.m. with Ronnie Williams and Lorrie Carter-Bennett, followed by EmiSunshine.

The music resumes Saturday, again with Williams and Carter-Bennett, at 3 p.m. Big Country Bluegrass will perform at 3:45, with Larry Sigmon and Martha Spencer and Unique Sound of the Mountains at 5. Following a supper break from 6 to 7:30, Sigmon and Spencer will take the stage again at 7:30. The Mountain Park Old Time Band will perform at 8:30. The Whitetop Mountain Band will close out the festival with a performance at 9:45.

Tickets for the festival are $10 for Friday only; $20 for Saturday only; and $25 for both days. Tickets for children ages 6 to 11 are $5 a day. Admission is free for children younger than 6.

Gates open at 3 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday.

For more information, visit www.carterfamilyfold.org or call (276) 594-0676.