It is only a few more weeks until the opening of the 37th annual Uncle Dave Macon Days, which will offer more activities Sunday, new features, and a star-studded lineup of entertainment.
The three-day event will take place July 11-13, 2014 at Cannonsburgh Historic Village, 312 S. Front St., Murfreesboro, Tenn., and will showcase Leroy Troy, Roland White and Tennessee Mafia Jug Band as the Trailblazer Award winners and bluegrass duo Dailey & Vincent as the Heritage Award winners.
“We are trying to be extraordinary, to set ourselves a cut above, to keep it authentic, but always enhancing the experience of the festival. We are always looking for ways to kick it up a notch,” says Gloria Christy, president of Uncle Dave Macon Days.
Christy has been a part of the festival and its operations for 30 years.
“We are always looking for great talent, great judges, great food and new features,” she says. “We have worked really hard on this year’s festival.”
Among this year’s highlights:
• Second stage
New this year is the Dixie Dew Drop stage at the pavilion behind the white church in Cannonsburgh. Four official contests will be held there throughout the festival, and jam bands will have a chance to perform for audiences as well.
“I’m really looking forward to how we are going to work that second stage,” Christy says.
• Motorless parade
A long-standing staple of the annual festival, the motorless parade pays tribute to the freight business Uncle Dave Macon operated before he began his second career as a famous Grand Ole Opry performer. Even making his treks hauling goods, Macon would entertain audiences along the way.
Today, the motorless parade has more than 200 entries, including riders, horse-drawn buggies and wagons, and other motorless vehicles. These participants prepare for weeks for the parade, where judges evaluate them, and a lucky few are awarded prizes based on their presentation.
The Trailblazer Award and Heritage Award winners play Grand Marshal in the parade.
• Macon Music Day Camp
Expanding the reach of the Uncle Dave Macon Days mission led to the Macon Music Foundation, an organization that focuses on educating children about traditional American musical roots through performances, curriculum, and instruction by experts in old-time music and dance.
The inaugural Macon Music Day Camp will be held the week prior to the festival, culminating on Friday, the first day of Uncle Dave Macon Days. Approximately 70 elementary school children will learn to clog, write songs, identify banjo styles, and cheer on other children as they compete in the festival’s contests.
In 1986 Uncle Dave Macon Days became the congressionally sanctioned National Championship for buckdancing, clogging and old-time banjo. Over the years new contests have been added to include all levels of skills and a variety of old-time styles.
This year festival organizers will pay tribute to the late Lester Armistead, a member of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band who died recently, by naming the jug band first place award after him.
• Antique car show
Showcasing more than 200 vehicles, the car show is one of the newest features of the ramped up Sunday schedule. Throughout the final day of Uncle Dave Macon Days, guests can check out the antique automobiles while enjoying premier Christian artists presented by 94.1 The Fish radio station.
• Food trucks
Joining the already popular food vendors at the festival, the Nashville Food Truck Association will have approximately a dozen food trucks on-site. These trucks will bring a wider variety of fare to the festival, as well as a following, with foodies and fans from the area coming to dine.
• Uncle Dave Macon book
Compiled by Mike Doubler and the Macon family, a new book called “Uncle Dave Macon: A Photo Tribute” offers a look into the life of the man who became a local legend. The book contains photos that are never before seen.
“It’s purpose is to connect — and reconnect — fans and admirers of the Grand Ole Opry’s first superstar with Uncle Dave’s life, music and legacy,” Doubler says.
As part of the package, early recordings of the Dixie Dew Drop are included for a special promotion. Proceeds from the book’s sales will go toward supporting the Macon-Doubler Fellowship scholarship, which helps children learn to play old-time instruments or take lessons in old-time dance. The book is $15 and book and CD are $25. Look for the Macon-Doubler Fellowship tent at the festival to make your purchase.
Celebrating the legacy of an early Grand Ole Opry star, the annual Uncle Dave Macon Days is the congressionally sanctioned national championships of clogging, buckdancing and old-time banjo. Uncle Dave Macon Days has been named a Top 20 event by the Southeastern Tourism Society, a Top 100 event in North America by the American Tour Bus Association, and was an integral part in earning Murfreesboro/Rutherford County the National Center of Traditional American Music. For more information, please visit the website at www.UncleDaveMaconDays.com.