Fannin County: Voices From The Past

Thirty years ago they hung children's art on clothesline strung between trees in Blue Ridge's city park and called it Arts in the Park.





This Memorial Day Weekend at the 30th Arts in the Park, more than 130 artists will display their work as some 20,000-plus visitors descend on downtown Blue Ridge.It's the premier event for the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (BRMAA) which, at 25 years old, is younger than the festival. But in that quarter century the BRMAA has made itself an essential part of this community's eclectic soul. "





The arts and creativity are two of the basic drivers in our lives," says BRMAA Executive Director Davis Palmour. So they're giving the local folks plenty of programs to choose from. To name a few: classes in watercolors, oil painting, stained glass, woodcarving, drawing, music, knitting, creative writing, pottery; monthly exhibits, member showcases, a writers' conference, a wildlife arts festival, concerts in the park; clubs for photographers, storytellers, dulcimer players, model train enthusiasts; and a fully funded, free children's program.





Now, with its oral history project, the BRMAA is helping Fannin County keep its ears on its cherished past while focusing on the twisting road ahead. Local interviewers, including Palmour, spent countless hours recording the stories of venerable Fannin Countians, creating a permanent archive of local stories told by local people.





Two years ago the BRMAA moved into its own realm of local history, taking over the old county courthouse, built in 1937. "The potential for us here is incredible," Palmour says. "There's nothing wrong with this place that five years and $3 million won't fix."





Which means the BRMAA will soon be adding another program: a capital campaign.

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