Thursday, June 20

Amy's Notebook: Virginia is for Lovers—and Clogging

The sign for the first site of the Carter Family Fold, which is now a museum. A larger performance hall now sits next door.
Photo by Amy Evans

With the SFA World Headquarters located in Mississippi, sometimes Virginia can seem like a far-off land. Sometimes it feels like we don't pay enough attention to Old Dominion. Sometimes it's easy to forget the work we've already done there. But there's one fieldwork trip I made to Virginia that will not soon fade into memory: the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons.

The kitchen at the Carter Family Fold
Photo by Amy Evans

In 2009, our programming theme was Music & Food. I hit the road for Hiltons to visit the birthplace of country music and speak with relatives of A. P. & Sarah Carter—relatives who cook cornbread and soup beans and coconut cake to serve to the people who come to celebrate the music that the Carter Family made famous. My experience at the Fold was unlike any field work assignment before or since. It was a trip of firsts:

It was my first time conducting 9 interviews in a single day (which I do not, by the way, recommend).

It was my first time to be given recipes in support of a project (handwritten on recipe cards, I might add).

It was my first time to spend 15 hours in one place, documenting the space and the people who inhabited it over the course of a single day.

It was the first time I ever clogged. Appalachian-style clogging, to be precise.

And it was the trip on which I learned I was pregnant with my daughter, Sofia.

Clogging at the Carter Family Fold
Photo by Amy Evans

We took a group of SFA members back to Hiltons a few months later for what we used to call our annual field trip (we now call it our Summer Symposium). I was reunited with my dancing partners, but I didn't do much clogging. I was six months pregnant, so waddling was the best I could manage. Instead, my friends at the Fold sat me down and plied me with plenty of cake and offered me handmade gifts for my new baby. 

Flo Wolfe and Rita Forrester at the Carter Family Fold
Photo by Amy Evans

And here we are, back in Virginia. Our Summer Symposium starts today in Richmond. I hope there will be dancing.