By September of 2005 the school was ready to host its first annual Wooley Creek Bluegrass Festival and plans were made for it to be held October 14,15 and 16. Following is an account of the 3 day celebration:
"The hills around Wooley Creek Road
west of Cape Fair were alive with the sounds of music this past week-end,
as all who attended the first Wooley Creek School Bluegrass Festival were
privileged to hear some of the best bluegrass bands in the country. Toes
were tapping, hands were clapping and many were singing along starting
Friday and continuing through Sunday afternoon; as they were entertained
by great bluegrass groups like the Missouri Boatride, Creeks Arisin',Cedar
Hill, Gold Wing Express, Route 66, Mount Zion, Lonesome Road, Ozark, Lights
of Home, the Link Family, and Another Time, Another Place.
Relatives and long time friends gathered to not only hear the great music, but to meet and greet each other in the little Wooley Creek School that has once again taken on life. The school restoration committee worked very hard since last June to begin the process of cleaning, making repairs and adding memorabilia to the walls of the school so that it can once again be enjoyed by the folks of the Wooley Creek community.
Saturday morning a school reunion was held for former students and teachers and there was standing room only as folks gathered, signed the guestbook and greeted old friends as they looked at pictures of many familiar faces on the walls. Old school memorabilia such as shiny tin cups, old lunch pails, a Big Chief tablet, a water bucket with dipper, and an old oil lamp brought back memories as each one began to tell stories of things they remembered as a student at Wooley Creek.
At 10 a.m., former student 86 years young Earl Jones began to pull the rope of the old school bell to call everyone to order and have a seat at one of the old desks or other chairs that had been provided for the occasion. A special recognition program began with a welcome to former students, teachers and invited guests. The oldest living 8th grade graduates, Vada Wilson, Vera Gamble and Earl Jones, from the class of 1933 were honored and each given a Remember When 1933 book and a bronze mum plant. Former teachers Vera Gamble, Beulah Brown, Oma White, Lenora Jones and Ruth Luck were each presented with a certificate of appreciation and a gold apple pin. Each one told of their fond memories of the school and a bit of what they have been doing since their teaching days. A special gift was presented to Vada Wilson for her valuable assistance and support of the restoration committee and her valuable contribution of one of her hand stitched quilts to help raise needed funds for the school.
A donation check from Bill Packwood, formerly of Cape Fair and now living in California, was presented to members of the Wooley Creek School Association directors Doyle Branstetter, Jack Tolbert and Oliver Foster to be applied to future repairs of the school.
Jerry Reavis of Crane was honored for his gift of a beautiful model of the school which he had made. It is a true replica and made with actual stones gathered from the school grounds.
Reeds Spring School Superintendent Mrs. Angie Besendorfer and members of the Reeds Spring School Board Ron Smith, Darin Hustead and Sae Tuia were welcomed and recognized for their support of the school restoration project and their donation of a teacher's desk from one of the old Reeds Spring schools. Wooley Creek school was consolidated with the Reeds Spring district in the fall of 1952.
Glenda Chamberlin, member of the restoration committee introduced other members Mary Ann Broomfield, Mike and Cathy Collins, Ron and Teresa Smith, Mariann Bruckner, Cyndi Stull, David Wren, Marion Jones, Doyle and Janice Branstetter.
Although not in attendance, former State Senator Doyle Childers and his wife Sue were thanked for their generous donation of old books to the school.
Following the recognition ceremony refreshments of cold apple cider and cookies were served to all as many continued to visit and then wandered outside to enjoy the bluegrass music on the school grounds.
At 1 o'clock humorist, author and former member of the Darling Family on the Andy Griffith Show, Mitch Jayne entertained folks inside the school with his memories of teaching in a one room school. Visitors continued to visit the school through the day and into the evening.
Sunday morning once again brought a standing room only crowd back to the school when 92 years young former preacher and teacher, Ercel Carter conducted worship services at the school. The message was outstanding and enjoyed by all who attended.
Following the service State Representative Dennis Wood officially presented United States and Missouri state flags to the Wooley Creek School, as well as framed certificates to indicate the flags had flown above the state capitol building at Jefferson City on July 20th of this year.
Festivities continued throughout the week-end as folks from near and far came to see the old school and listen to the great bluegrass music. Sunday afternoon local music entertainers Oliver Foster and Sharon Bennett were invited to join Larry Sifford's Missouri Boatride bluegrass group to sing with them. This was enthusiastically received by all the folks attending and they were given standing ovations.
The drawing for the quilt donated by Vada Wilson took place Sunday afternoon and Ada Branstetter was announced as the winner. Sharon Bennett was the lucky recipient of the drawing for a new Deering Banjo.
As the festival grew to a close Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. as strains of bluegrass music faded and the school doors closed, all who attended agreed that the festival had been a success and plans for a second Wooley Creek School bluegrass music festival are already being discussed."
© 2006 Jo Dunne
All Rights Reserved
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