Time to celebrate our accomplishment

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Barry County deserves a pat on the back. Over the last few months, dozens of community members, businesses and organizations have joined together to help plan, promote and execute musical performances, informances, children's programs and local displays to complement the Smithsonian Institute's Museum on Main Street exhibit "New Harmonies Celebrating American Roots Music," which has been housed at the Barry County Museum since June. This week, I would like to recognize some of the people who were instrumental in this project.

Cherry Bailey and the Barry County Museum staff spearheaded this monumental project, which required months of preparation. Cherry and Kathy White, museum director, put together committees that were responsible for selecting entertainers, gathering exhibit items, fundraising, training docent volunteers, publicizing the exhibit and events and other aspects of the project. Cherry, Kathy and other members of the museum team also spent countless hours organizing information, musical acts and complementary displays for the New Harmonies project.

Karlene McGill and several other volunteers put together the first annual Barry County Pioneer Days, which was held in April. Individuals who attended the event took part in auctions and enjoyed entertainment by the Possum Holler Fiddlers, a group of young musicians from southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Many area community members gave generously during the event. Donated funds helped pay for advertising, supplies and other expenses associated with the New Harmonies project.

Greg Beck served as the performances and programs committee chair and was instrumental in recruiting musicians, bands, performers and entertainers for the project. Greg was assisted by a group of volunteers that included Jo Ellen Fielding, Ralph Lamberson, Kerry Hays, Dale Reed, Ted Roller, Brenda Beck and Jim Craig. These individuals and other volunteers dedicated much of their free time to contacting musicians and entertainers for the six weeks of performances and programs offered at the museum.

Judie Starchman volunteered to lead not one but three of the six children's programs offered at the museum this summer. Starchman spent time planning each of the activities to ensure children learned lessons about music and had fun during the programs. It was amazing to see Starchman use her talents to educate and entertain dozens of children who attended the events.

Murray and Patty Rhoads organized the American Indian Music and Dance program that was offered at the museum on July 10. Murray brought together a large group of American Indian performers for the event, which drew many Barry Countians to the museum. In addition, Patty served as the docent training committee chair and spent many hours recruiting and training volunteers who were available to answer questions and give tours of the New Harmonies exhibit.

Other volunteers stepped up to provide community outreach, organize security for performances and gather items for complimentary exhibits. Some of these volunteers included: Becky Ryder, Melvin Lacey, Mary Richmiller, Fran Bolton, Connie Schieler, Phyllis Baker, Betty Lamberson, Iva Roller, Carolyn Bowen, Carolyn Bishop, Donna Hayes, Dale McCracken, Ralph Hilburn, Tim Smith, Charli Jo Epperly and Ruby Reese. Several area residents also donated and loaned items to the museum for the New Harmonies project.

This week, the Barry County Museum will conclude six weeks of entertainment with performances on Friday and Saturday night. A fiddle contest will also be held on Saturday evening. The New Harmonies exhibit can be viewed at the museum until Saturday, July 31. With the New Harmonies project coming to an end, Barry County can now take time to celebrate its accomplishment. It has been amazing to see so many community members come together to create something for everyone to enjoy. It is my hope that the local museum will have the opportunity to host similar exhibits and events in the future. Maybe next time we can have even more community members jump on board to assist with the project.

Lindsay Reed