Help share county's musical roots

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Over the next four months, a group of local community members will be working to plan events that will complement a special exhibit scheduled to open at the Barry County Museum on June 19. These community members hope to schedule musical performances, children's activities and programs to draw visitors to the museum. Some of these events could include a talent contest, arts and crafts programs and storytelling sessions with local musicians and artists.

As one of only a handful of communities that will have an opportunity to partner with the Smithsonian Institution and Missouri Humanities Council to host the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street exhibit "New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music," Barry County has a unique opportunity. For a six-week period, our community will have an opportunity to showcase its musical roots.

Music has a special place in the hearts of Barry Countians. Many of the community activities that we cover in the newspaper each year feature musical performances. Events like the annual Wheaton Barbecue, the Seligman Fall Festival, Shakin' in the Shell, the Golden Fiddler's Contest, The Show and the Washburn Hootenanny draw hundreds of local community members annually.

In addition to enjoying music at organized events, most Barry Countians can remember enjoying music with their families from the time they were very small children. Some family's connection with music has involved listening to country and classic rock on vinyl records or the radio while other families have taught their children to play instruments and sing. Many of our local musicians can recall stories about music parties and traveling to area churches to perform as a family. Locally, old-fashioned music parties have evolved into gatherings like the McDowell Gold Jubilee, which is held east of Purdy throughout the spring and summer months each year.

Barry County's connection to music runs deep, and there are many local musicians who have a wealth of knowledge that should be shared with the community this summer. When the New Harmonies Committee begins searching for performers and storytellers, I hope that those of you who have stories to tell or a talent to share will come forward.

As June 19 draws near, local community members will also be asked to attend several fundraising events to help fund the concerts, events and activities that will surround the New Harmonies exhibit. Barry County has always been a very generous community and this will give the community another chance to let its generosity shine.

Through community volunteerism, donating and sharing knowledge and talent, the local community has an opportunity to showcase Barry County's musical history with those visiting the area this summer. This is also an opportunity to pass knowledge along to the younger generations in the county. It is my hope that our community will not only make plans to attend the exhibit, which will be at the Barry County Museum from June 19 through July 31, but also make plans to help share our musical roots to ensure this exhibit is something our entire county can be proud of.

Lindsay Reed