Press release from the Center for Cultural Preservation:
Imagine being on the road with thousands of hogs, tens of thousands of turkeys and sheep herded by hundreds of local farmers. It would make today’s traffic on I-26 seem like a day in the park! However in the 1800s, several roads became drovers turnpikes in the fall allowing local farmers from East Tennessee and throughout Western North Carolina to herd their livestock to market in Rutherfordton, Greenville and Spartanburg. The Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, is proud to present a Turnpike Sunset, an historical play by the acclaimed bluegrass band, Buncombe Turnpike.
Old Buncombe Turnpike is also the name of one of the main roads farmers took to drove their livestock to market. It allowed farmers to move from Nashville to Asheville, south to Hendersonville and on to Greenville and Spartanburg. It’s estimated that during the 1820s through the late 1800s, that 150,000 hogs were herded down the Turnpike in a season. Roadside inns called stock stands acted like motels where farmers could spend the night and pen their animals before hitting the road once again.
Buncombe Turnpike has taken this fascinating slice of local history and turned it into a whimsical play that includes their own music and a retelling of WNC’s agricultural community and the life that many of our local farmers lived in the 19th century before and after the Civil War. According to Tom Godleski, the band’s founder and the playwright, “the stories of WNC’s drover history demonstrate how creative farmers needed to be to herd their livestock sometimes hundreds of miles away. Given that my family was a part of this history, I wanted to create a play that helped to preserve a slice of local culture that few are aware of.”
A Turnpike Sunset scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium. Tickets are $15 and $20 at the door and advanced reservations are strongly recommended by registering online at www.saveculture.org or calling the Center at (828) 692-8062.
Upcoming in the Center’s cultural calendar is the long-awaited documentary film release, GUARDIANS OF OUR TROUBLED WATERS, which will have its world premiere in WNC on June 20, 22 and 23rd in Flat Rock and Asheville. More information is available online at SaveCulture.org.
The Center for Cultural Preservation is a cultural nonprofit organization dedicated to working for mountain heritage continuity through oral history, documentary film, education and public programs. For more information about the Center contact them at (828) 692-8062 or www.saveculture.org.