Appalachian tales and mountain music will be presented at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge 19th annual Gala on Friday, December 4.
It will be the museum’s first virtual gala, and it will celebrate East Tennessee’s great mountain heritage with the theme “MoonShine on the Mountain,” a press release said. It will also feature Children’s Museum STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) mixed in with the entertainment.
Sam Venable, humor columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, will bring his storytelling magic to the Museum, presenting Southern Appalachian Tales for the Gala audience, the press release said. Author of 14 books, Venable writes on outdoor and humor themes.
In recent years, Venable’s popularity has grown as a comedic entertainer, the press release said. His topics include how to speak “hillbillyese” and coping with the nutty life in which we live. He has teamed up with entertainers Bill Landry, a TV personality; Elizabeth Rose, singer and storyteller; and Jim Claborn, hillbilly funnyman, on the “Talk is Cheap” comedy tour at venues throughout the region.
A member of the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, Venable has twice received the southeast “Green Eyeshade” humor writing award from the Society of Professional Journalists. “Fragments of Hate,” his six-part News Sentinel series during Black History Month in 2014, won the national Sigma Delta Chi feature reporting award from SPJ.
Musician and storyteller Chip Bailey will present mountain music and stories at the Gala, using his talents as a traditional fiddler and banjo player to enhance his stories, the press release said. A native East Tennessean who now lives in Berea, Kentucky, Bailey links Celtic music and Appalachian old-time tunes while giving the “back story” behind each song.
Bailey is a past member of Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association and a past teaching artist with the Tennessee Arts Commission, and he was a musician ambassador at the Museum of Appalachia before his recent move to Berea. He has been a frequent instructor at ORICL (Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning), where adult audiences enjoy his presentations on many musical genres as he blends history and tunes. A retired college professor, Bailey has intertwined storytelling with traditional music throughout his teaching career.
The Gala is virtual this year, as the Museum observes safety precautions necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will, however, feature a live and lively virtual auction, with Clinton auctioneer Bear Stephenson, of Stephenson Realty and Auction, volunteering his services. Among auction items will be a diamond and 14-karat white gold necklace from Karen’s Jewelers; pottery by Oak Ridge master potter Bill Capshaw; a Nashville Music City package; and a Sugarlands Shine Gift Basket.
The Gala, with emcee Heather Haley, WVLT-TV meteorologist, will feature pre-Gala music by the musical duo Elza Gate, as well as conversation about moonshine and moon rocks. The Museum will present the Selma Shapiro Friend of the Child Award during the Gala. Besides the live auction, the Gala will close with the launch of an online silent auction, open to Gala guests and the public through December 11.
Gala guests are encouraged to order dinner from one of the nine Calhoun’s restaurant locations, including in Oak Ridge. The menu and online ordering can be found at http://calhouns.com. Calhoun’s is a partner and sponsor of the Gala.
The Gala is the annual fundraiser for the Children’s Museum, supporting the museum’s mission of educating children of all ages through play and discovery. Gala tickets are $100 per person (dinner not included). $70 is tax-deductible. Tickets may be purchased at https://handbid.app.link/cmorgala. If you can’t attend, you may make a donation at http://bit.ly/givetocmor. Call Beth Shea at CMOR at (865) 482-1074 to learn more about Gala sponsorships or for more information.