BLUEGRASS BAND HELPS CELEBRATE OUR MUSICAL HERITAGE

By TOM PRY

Searcy Daily Citizen, November 24, 2004

White Countyís third-largest group dealt a double helping at Monday nightís year-end meeting, electing a new slate of officers and then being entertained by Cross Countyís Caney Creek Bluegrass Band.

Outgoing president Ron Busbea held a fast-moving election, and then announced that banker Dewitt Yingling had become the groupís 22nd president in its 43-year history. Also elected were Searcians Tony Young as vice-president, Zelda Dawson as treasurer and Shelly Keech of Sherwood as secretary. Billie Willingham of Pickens Chapel and James McAllister of Searcy [were elected] as at-large directors.

The Harding Place meeting was the formal wrapup for the groupís busy year. The 500-member society always has a number of projects going, the largest of which is their work on Pioneer Village. That project involved moving the Village, first from the fairgrounds to its new location on Higginson Road in Searcy.

One building has been built out of old logs salvaged from a two-story barn that had been located on the Riley farm, at Plantís Chapel. Under construction is an 1,800-square foot pole barn that will house the Villageís collection of antique farm implements.

Although the appearance by the Caney Creek Band was found entertaining by those assembled, publicist Eddie Best noted that, "The significant thing about the bluegrass program is not so much the group itself but the fact that the Historical Society recognizes the importance of music like this as a part of our heritage. Our earliest pioneers showed up with fiddles, banjos and other musicmakers in their wagons. Music has helped our forebears through hard times and good times, too."

Best said that when Pioneer Village reopens, it will feature frequent music programs of this nature.

The 500-member WCHS is itself a mixed group, geographically. Approximately one-third of the membership lives in the Searcy area, another third is scattered around the state, and the remainder are scattered all over the country, including Alaska, California and Florida.

The $20 yearly membership fee covers admission to the 11 meetings a year, a subscription to the Societyís 10-page monthly newsletter, plus a copy of "White County Heritage," a yearly updated 100-page history.