Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 24, 2014

Appalachian heritage event set for Raceland

Lana Bellamy
CNHI News Service

RACELAND — A chance to explore Appalachian culture, history and future possibilities can be found under one roof March 1 at the second annual Appalachian Folk Heritage Conference.

Mike Francis, teacher at Raceland-Worthington High School, and Kristi Ruggles created the framework for last year’s event after bonding over seed-swapping.

The result: A day full of cultural speakers, traditional music and a showcase of unique crafts from regional artists.

This year, the conference will provide the same types of entertainment, but also focus on Appalachian progress.

The conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Raceland-Worthington High School's Cultural Arts Center.

As a coach and teacher at the high school, Francis was given support for the event by Raceland-Worthington School Superintendent Larry Coldiron and CAC Program Director Anne Stephens to get the ball rolling.

But Francis said did not organize the conference just because he liked Appalachia. He wanted to educate the community about the region's history and spark a dialogue that could put future plans of sustainability in motion.

“We’re trying to enable people to become self-sustaining, not only through gardening, but also by looking at economic growth,” Francis said.

This will be a main topic of discussion when a panel of regional experts on farming and gardening open the conference Saturday morning.

Economincally, Francis said he believes Eastern Kentuckians can help sustain their communities by taking traditional Kentucky values and bringing them into the modern job market.

“I‚Äąthink if we can figure out ways to kind of change a little bit of who we are, but keep the soul of the area, as far as the fact we are hard-working, tough and adaptable people, we can really move forward,” he said.

This year, Ashland Community and Technical College professor Ernie Tucker will lend unique insight into Appalachian living with his lecture entitled, “I'm Not From Here: An Outsider Finds His Place.”

The other speaker, Dr. Roland Burns, will talk about his mission to collect, relocate and preserve colonial structures in Northeast Kentucky and his experiences in doing so.

The day will also include traditional musical performances from local artists, a film spotlighting famous bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley, a clogging performance and homemade crafts for sale.

The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided by Lamp Post Cafe.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.