If you live in Western Carolina, then there is only one place you need to be on Saturday, September 13th! It’s at Globe Park in Forest City at the annual Snuffy Jenkins Festival. The gates open at 10 a.m. and the non-stop music begins at 11 a.m. and continues showcasing great music until 7 p.m. If you love the music of our land this festival is all about bluegrass music and the close relatives in the acoustic music tradition.
The festival is in honor of Dewitt “Snuffy” Jenkins who was born in the Harris community of Rutherford County. He was the 10th of 10 children! The first banjo he played he and his brother Veri made. He was an innovative three finger banjo player and is given credit for influencing the famous Earl Scruggs and Don Reno. The Snuffy Jenkins Festival is a celebration of bluegrass and old time music. It also includes historical talks and discussions of Snuffy’s life.
He was born on October 27, 1908 and passed away on April 29, 1990. How did Dewitt Jenkins get his nickname “Snuffy”? It seems that in 1947 while a member of the WIS Hillbillies, Jenkins dressed up in baggy pants as part of the minstrel and comedy skits the hillbillies included in their performances. Byron Parker, a member of the WIS Hillbillies, gave Jenkins the name “Snuffy” because he used to wipe his nose with his sleeve during one of the skits. It stuck! When Parker died in 1948 the group changed their name of “The Hired Hands” in Parker’s memory.
This “one of a kind” musician was part of what everyone called hillbillies. The name country music had not yet emerged. Connie B. Gay from Lizard Lick, North Carolina and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame is credited with changing the music of the land to “country music”. Most people don’t realize that when Snuffy was semi-retired he worked in the 1960’s as a car salesman in South Carolina. In 1979 the surviving members of The Hired Hands were invited to stage an old time medicine show in the hamlet of Bailey, North Carolina. It’s success led North Carolina Public Television to produce the “Free show Tonight” which aired over PBS. The Hired Hands also performed their medicine show at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. and in 1983 they performed at the American Place Theatre in New York City.
This year’s lineup at the festival includes: Billy Constable & Sassagrass, Phil & Gaye Johnson, Wiregrass, The Dowden Sisters Band, and The Shady Oak Ramblers among others. If you play an instrument bring it with you because there is a lot of jamming going on.
This showcase of music is something special and no one should miss. Tickets are only $10 and the kids get in free. You can purchase advance tickets at B Sharp Music in Spindale (828-286-4444). For additional information just call 828-245-4000. Saturday, September 13, at Globe Park in Forest City, The Snuffy Jenkins Festival a special presentation of the Rutherford County Arts Council and should not be missed. It is a reflection in music of our great heritage and those who have made and continue to make it so! Don’t miss it!