East Tennessee History Fair

East Tennessee, and by extension, national and international history were the focus, particularly around Krutch Park Saturday morning, August 7. Sponsored by the Tennessee Historical Society, there were numerous events, activities and displays offering something for anyone with a passing interest in history.

My favorite part of the day was the tour offered by Knox Heritage of formerly endangered sites, including the story of how each avoided the dreaded parking lot fate. Kim Trent held the small but interested group spellbound in the heat. If you’d be interested in a self-guided tour, the information is located on their website.
Another big event which fit nicely with, though wasn’t  an official part of the celebration was the League of Women Voter’s celebration of the ninetieth anniversary of women’s suffrage. A march culminated on Market Square at, of course, the statue commemorating the ladies who made it possible.

There were booths representing many groups with some interest or tie-in with history.

Of course, there was a large military presence, from the Revolutionary War, through both World Wars, with a special emphasis on the Civil War, the great southern obsession.

Finally, there was music MC’d by Freddy Smith from WDVX. The music took an historical bent, as well, including traditional bluegrass.

I particularly found interesting the Butterworth Brigade (pictured below) who bill themselves as a band making the kind of music the soldiers would have made during the civil war. Their instruments, clothing and song choices are all designed to be authentic. They played Old Dan Tucker, which I think I knew. I consider myself pretty versed on Stephen Foster, whom they said would likely have supplied about half the songs the men knew, but I didn’t know “Angelina Baker,” the song they performed. With its reference to the happy slave working on the plantation, I suspect it is one of his which has fallen into disuse. They also did a minstrel song, “Old King Crow,” from the era which is also a dicey move, but it didn’t seem offensive. I suspect they modified its presentation a bit.

Finally, there was this little car on Clinch Avenue that may or may not have been part of the festival, but I thought it was interesting to consider how different and how similar its surroundings appeared now to what would have been seen from the seats of that car when it was new. Probably plenty of both. I bet there were more Civil War soldiers on the street today than when the car would have first been driven down these streets.

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