The Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris is ending after 38 years.
The festival, which started in 1980, has grown to the point that it now requires more than three thousand hours to plan, promote, and execute, a press release said.
“Homecoming was an enormous investment for a museum of our size,” said Stephen Dean, chair of the museum’s board of directors. “If we lost a day of attendance due to weather, we simply could not make it up. Even if a homecoming was successful financially, the amount of time and effort invested simply wasn’t justifiable. We have to be responsible for the entire museum’s operation.”
The festival started in 1980 as a one-time event to recognize, display, and celebrate the disappearing music and culture of the Southern Appalachians, but grew over the years into a multi-day event attended by tens of thousands of people annually, the press release said.
The 38th and final Homecoming, held this past October, was one of the museum’s most well-received events, the press release said. It introduced all-new evening concerts featuring artists like Lee Ann Womack and The SteelDrivers. As a result, this year’s Fall Homecoming boasted record-breaking attendance and attracted new visitors.
“It was a wonderful send-off for this beloved festival,” said Museum President Elaine Meyer, daughter of museum founder John Rice Irwin. “We will always look back at Homecoming as a wonderful and important experience, not only for the museum, but also for the thousands of visitors who attended over the years. But today, our mission to preserve and showcase the museum’s significant historical collection of artifacts and stories must come to the forefront.”
However, that doesn’t mean that the museum will stop hosting entertaining and educational special events, the press release said.
“Discontinuing homecoming will allow the museum to host more activities and events throughout the year, because we won’t be spending all of our time planning for a single event,” Meyer said.
When asked if there would be a replacement for the homecoming event, Meyer said: “Nothing can really replace homecoming, but our plans are to find new ways for visitors to interact with and share in the rich culture that developed in Southern Appalachia. We look forward to announcing our list of special events for 2018 very soon.”
The Museum of Appalachia, an internationally acclaimed living history farm/village located 16 miles north of Knoxville, is home to a unique collection of early pioneer artifacts from the Southern Appalachian Mountains. A nonprofit organization, the museum’s mission is to preserve Appalachian artifacts and instill in the community—regionally, nationally, and internationally—a greater knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Appalachian heritage. For additional information, call (865) 494-7680 or visit the website at www.museumofappalachia.org.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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