In 1996 I signed up for my first writing class at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC
. If you have never been to this special place nestled in the beautiful mountains between Chattanooga, TN, Asheville, NC, and Atlanta GA, please add taking a class at JCCFS
to your bucket list.
This weekend my sister and BIL, Stu, came up and we had the greatest time. Saturday afternoon we drove over to Brasstown and found ourselves caught up in a traffic jam. Who would have thought we'd have a traffic jam on Settawig Road? Cars were bumper to bumper and we had become discouraged by the time we reached the parking area on the campus. Stu dropped off Gay and me at the entrance near the Gift Shop. Thousands of people come from all over the country and I'm sure from other parts of the world to visit JCCFS on festival day.
This is a place where I always see people I know. We made sure we arrived in time to see Butternut Creek and Friends, a great singing grou
p that includes Steve Harvey who plays banjo, ukulele, guitar and he sings.
We have been fans of the group for over sixteen years. Steve is an essayist and will be teaching a class at the Ridgeline Conference this weekend.
We didn't want to miss seeing the lovely twins, The Pressley Girls, who have blossomed into quite a singing group backed by their grandpa, their mother and their uncle. The girls belong to Tipper of Blind Pig and the Acorn.
The folk school holds many good memories for me from my first class there with Nancy Simpson, poet
, to my first opportunity to teach a writing class. I was asked to sub for a weekend class. I had taught some classes already, but this was my first time at John C. Campbell Folk School.
I'll never forget the emotion that rolled over me as I turned the key to the door of the room where we would gather. I thought I would burst with gratitude, and I wanted to laugh and to cry at the same time. I felt I'd reached a milestone. I hoped I could give my students the same feeling I had in my first class at this magical place.
Years have passed since that day and many men and women have sat before me in writing classes at the folk school, at classes in church fellowship halls, at Tri-County Community College, at ICL classes held at Young Harris College and in my own studio. But I never forget that my life changed forever the day I took my first writing class at John C. Campbell Folk School.