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39 years of the annual Carter Family Memorial Festival

By Jim Conrad
Published On: Aug 01 2013 04:02:54 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 31 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

Each summer a two-day festival is held as a memorial to the famous musical Carter Family.

SCOTT COUNTY, Va. -

For 39 years now a celebration of mountain life and culture is held at the Carter Fold and Museum to honor one of the most famous families in music -- the Carter Family.

A promise kept by the daughter of A.P. Carter has tuned into a national treasure that brings thousands to our region each year. We spent some time with a member of this historic family to learn more about it.

It's a solemn moment in an otherwise busy weekend for Rita Forrester as she places flowers on her family members' graves. She is the granddaughter of A.P. Carter of the famous Carter Family.

For her it's a bittersweet time as she get ready for the annual Carter Family Memorial Festival. "It reminds me of all the family that I no longer have when I think of all the years that my Mom was here helping with the festival and Uncle Joe was here. We'd have Helen and June, Anita, there would be family members everywhere," Rita says.

But soon the stage of the famous Carter Fold will fill with music and fun as it takes those attending back in time. "I think it's what you would have seen years ago. It's the type of music you would have seen years ago. It's the feeling you would have had at a show years ago maybe like when the Ryman started," she said.

Much has changed since the Fold was established in 1974, but thousands come each year to set foot on what to many is hallowed ground. "The Fold is probably the most unique place on Earth. I don't know of any other place where so many people of varying ages get together and enjoy the same thing. From babes in arms to 90-year-olds," she says.

What they enjoy is a sound first heard at the Bristol Sessions in 1927 that established the family band as country music's first family. The influence of that music can still be heard today. "They tell me there's songs on the chart today that it's Carter Family-based songs. One of the top songs on the charts it's a version of "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone," Rita told us.

It's a musical spirit that will be around for a long time to come.

For more about the Cater Fold and the festival click here.