Evelyn Braese, one the last people to see country music star Cowboy Copas alive, will be attending. She and her husband, William, were the last to talk with Copas before he died in a tragic plane crash that took his life and that of Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes in 1963.
Renewed interest in the life of Copas has been sparked by the release of Simon’s book “Cowboy Copas and The Golden Age of Country Music.”
The Braeses ran the airport in Dyersburg, Tenn., which was the last stop for Copas and the others before returning home to Nashville. Simon has documented the story in his book, which will be available at the festival. Braese contacted Simon and told him she wanted to attend the event this year. Both will be available to talk to people about Copas, and the book will be available along with Copas CDs.
“Copas came from this area (Blue Creek), and people are interested in the accident and about local history from reading the book,” Simon said. “A lot of people will want to talk to Evelyn.”
In addition to Simon’s special guest, the festival continues to honor the tradition of Appalachia.
“Anybody that comes can see what we’re doing, and it’s exemplified in the way we honor music. One man came up from Tennessee one time and came over and tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘John, this is the real ticket,’” said Simon, who added that the festival honors many traditions at his farm.
There’s a consistency to the festival with many artists coming year after year, and people seem to like that, Simon said.
“The house was built in the 1860s,” he said. “My family came here from France. When people come out to the farm they can see chickens, guineas and cows. People like to bring the children and get on a wagon and go down through the fields and see some farm scenery. They like to see Martha Eichenlaub with her egg art, the applebutter making, music and dancing … you never know what’s going to happen.”
Along with sorghum making, those attending the event can also enjoy homemade pies, sorghum suckers, whittling, grapevine wreath making, farm scenes, homemade soap making, hand quilting and wall hangings, mountain dulcimers and instructions, acoustic string music, blacksmithing, homemade apple cider, pickled corn, basket weaving, chair caning and much more.
DEBORAH DANIELS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234.