Whitesburg KY
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Cincinnati’s Appalachian Festival draws musicians


Southern Ohio

Hello again everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day with family. I know there are a few that have a hard time this time of year.

Grab a beverage let’s sit down and chat a spell. Have you ever heard the expression, it’s too wet to plow? Well Friday was a cold, very wet day. Saturday was a little better. Sunday was a repeat of Friday, foggy early in the morning almost like pea soup.

I see where several people in the mountains are having lettuce and onions. Needless to say my mouth is drooling like a baby cutting teeth. I can almost taste lettuce and onions smothered in hot bacon grease.

If I had just a dab I would be satisfied, not really as I wouldn’t care if it was a half a bushel. Well almost. I can’t digest it so it is on my ‘can’t do’ list.

I really don’t know of anyone in this area that raises a garden any more. Johnny Calihan tries to grow a little green beans, as he isn’t able to do the things he has always done.

Johnny and Ann never look any older to me. I thank God that I’ve had them in my life for many years before that. As I’ve written, they knew my parents. Johnny even remembers my great-grandparents, Will and Nance Coots from Big Branch.

Appalachian Festival at Old Coney Island in Cincinnati is once again just a beautiful memory. Even though it was sort of bad weather, it is always a wonderful place to be at. Friday is a special day for certain school kids as they descend on the festival and are like little ants, they are everywhere. It is always fun watching the children as they experience different things throughout the festival.

Rabbit Hash String Band always starts the day on Friday, which features Russ and Barb Childers, Warren and Judy Waldron. There were a few little girls that were keeping time to the music. I asked the adult chaperone if the girls wanted to dance, and a couple were sort of shy, but then there was some who were ready in a heartbeat. With a little encouragement I had them dancing with me.

Volunteers have a badge, and since I interact sometimes with the children I make sure that my badge has my name on it.

There were too many bands to name. Tony Hale & Blackwater did an awesome job, as usual. Tony knows I have a special song that he sings. I was in for a surprise, as before he started to sing he dedicated the song to me. Tony and the band sang a beautiful gospel song, Beulah Land. I called Les and Pat Wagner, as this is one of Pat’s favorites. No one can sing it with feeling quite like Tony does. Les and Pat weren’t up to par, so they couldn’t make the festival. There are more ways to do things than one.

I was exhausted when I got home Friday evening. It rained almost all the way home, and I barely could see the lines of the highway. Thank God traffic was very light. If I could have pulled over I might have camped in my car until daylight. I may have to limit driving.

Saturday morning, I was still a little tired, but I fixed a to-go bag with a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle of orange juice, and made sure I had some hard candy in case I had a low blood sugar occurrence. Like Willie Nelson sings, I was on the road again. The weather was a little chilly to start the day off, then it was beautiful the rest of the day and evening.

The bands were good, but I must say my heart wasn’t in it as I kept thinking of Carcassonne Community Square Dance. Honestly, I kept looking at my cell phone checking the time, anticipating the time it would take to get to the mountains from the New Richmond area. I was just a hop and jump from 471.

For once I listened to my brain “questionable” instead of my heart and my feet, as really I do believe my feet have a mind of their own when it comes to me heading to the mountains. Like the popular saying goes, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

Finally at 2 p.m., I was still debating on going, and a band that I had never heard took the stage. Fenced In caught my attention so I let the music work its magic and kept my feet on the concrete instead of on the gas pedal of my car.

Actually I knew I would be exhausted. Did you ever have to wrestle with your own self? I am so thankful I can make spur of the moment decisions and not have to play a game called “Honey, May I?” When I want to go some place I don’t have anyone to keep me from going. I may be old, but I can still drive and can go without restrictions. I have more miles behind me than ahead of me so I may as well enjoy life while I can.

My niece Sue Hall and her husband Mart, who is like a nephew to me, no, they both seem like my kids, attended the square dance.

Hall’s Transport sponsored Carcassonne Square Dance. Mart wanted to surprise me, as he was dedicating it in my honor, as he knows how much I love dancing. Actually I understand I was missed, and now that makes me feel good.

Mike told Marcia he really expected me to show up. Oh Mike and Marcia, if you only knew how much you two and the Carcassonne community mean to me. I can’t believe I came there over two years and sat like a bump on a log, when my heart and feet was aching to see if I could still dance.

The first time I met Randy Wilson I opened up to him about not dancing in over 30-some years. He asked me to dance. I was sort of scared of messing up the square I was in, but nope, I went through it with Randy’s guidance, then Mike was nice enough to dance with me quite a few times. I am not afraid to dance with anyone, that is until they start getting on my foot.

Now back to the Appalachian Festival. As the day ended I came home, fixed Keith’s supper and curled up and went to sleep.

Sunday morning, oh how tempted I was to stay in the confinements of my nice warm house as it was downright cold. I did something I really don’t like to do; I layered three layers of shirts to keep warm, plus I wore a hooded fleece-lined jacket, taking a heavy blanket with me.

Steve Bonafel is a local artist receiving several awards in music for writing songs. I can truthfully say I met Steve before he was famous. I hope somehow my encouragement helped him. Steve sings lots of the songs that he has written. He is a very nice guy.

As I sat in the audience, I started thinking what you can do with talent when you know the venues.

Upstairs I probably have enough songs that I have written to build a huge bonfire when I take my final voyage. I will say one thing, I may just enjoy the music, since I don’t sing, I bet you one thing, I know as many songs, if not more than a lot of musicians.

Sunday was a hard day for me, as it seemed I missed mother more than usual. With me being the firstborn Mom thought I was the only baby ever born and could do anything I set my head to. How grateful I am that Mom spent time with me to tell me the things she did in the early part of my most informative years, as they have lingered in my heart and soul.

When Uncle Mike Carr, who is known in this area and I am sure other places for his talents, sang an old Stanley Brothers song called Lonely Tombs. I thought I was going to have to get up and walk away. While Mike Carr was singing, it wasn’t his voice I was hearing, it was my mother’s voice and me singing with her at about the age of five or six years old.

Sunday was as I said very cold. The musicians’ hands were almost numb and they still did such a great job. Wagon Wheel even found its way to the Appalachian Festival. Higher Vision made their debut for the first time at the Appalachian Festival. Once again I am familiar with this band. I met Ronnie Merrill, who is from Hamilton, and Rob and Deidra Morgan from Georgetown, Oh.

Rob’s dad, Don Morgan has Brown County Bluegrass Festival, and a very special person, Dean Osborne, has Hyden Bluegrass Festival in August. Yes, I got a hug from Dean Osborne too, and yes I will be back at Hyden in August, if God is willing.

This has been a wonderful weekend, even though my heart hasn’t been completely in it. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

When I came home Friday night my son had gotten me a dozen red roses. When I came home Sunday a surprise was on my front porch, as my daughter Kay had gotten me a huge pink Mandeville plant that is blooming, plus a huge container of petunias, and a card. My other two girls Angie and Anna called me, as they knew where I was.

Now I have a little sad news, Keith did it again! My Shasta daisy and my blackeyed Susan had just begun to get big leaves. I am going to hide that blasted weed eater, as he cut them down again.

I am going today to get some fencing, to put in front to see if they will come back. If not, I will put the fence around my son. Just kidding.

Please keep Hayward Day in your prayers, and his beautiful daughter Kim, as I am sure it is upsetting to her with her dad in the hospital. I am going to try to go see him this week

Happy birthday to Johnny Calihan May 15. Johnny will be 92 years young. Happy anniversary to Mike and Marcia Caudill. Sorry I forgot the date.

Before I close I want to share a short funny story with you: Sunday when I first got to Appalachian Festival, Sandy and another woman had some duties to take care of. Sandy asked me to stay at the volunteering tent for a little while.

Meantime the coffee pot became empty, and of course the water pitcher was empty too. I had no idea where they got the water from.

Finally a man who stays in the volunteer booth came in. I asked him where they got the water from.

He said the soda machine, so he showed me a little thing that you pressed and it dispensed water. So I filled a gallon pitcher, and when I looked at it, I sort of wondered about it!

When I made the pot of coffee I teased the man that came to get a cup of coffee saying if it wasn’t any good that someone else made it, if it was good, I would take the credit. The stranger took a sip, saying that was honestly the best cup of coffee he had ever tasted.

Later last night I was talking to Ann Calihan, telling her about me not knowing how to make coffee, nor where to get the water at. All of a sudden I started laughing so hard that tears streamed down my face. I am afraid I made coffee with carbonated water. That is probably why the water was a little bubbly.

Okay that’s all for now. Until next time, Rose Ballard, 9110 Lawrenceburg Rd., Harrison, Ohio 45030, email: Bluegrassmama4@aol.com.

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