In their regularly-scheduled 6 p.m. meeting on Thursday, May 17, on the second floor of the Rutherford County Courthouse, Mayor Ernest Burgess and the Rutherford County Commission will honor Rutherford County's Cripple Creek Cloggers and the International Folkfest, which they host, for 45 years and 30 years of organization, respectively. All former members of the dance troupe and all Folkfest volunteers are invited to be present.
Cripple Creek Cloggers began in 1967 as a 4-H "Share the Fun" group at Kittrell School where founder Steve Cates was a teacher and 4-H leader. In 1969, the troupe was opened to county-wide membership and assumed the name, Rutherford County Square Dancers.
Over the years, many young people from other Middle TN counties became involved as well. In 1980, an adult troupe called the Cripple Creek Cloggers was founded, which forms the basis of the group that is still performing today.
In 1982, as an outgrowth of the traveling that the dancers were doing to represent the U.S. in international folkloric festivals in other countries, International Folkfest was formed. As with the dance troupe, it remains an all-volunteer event and this year will begin with troupes representing Puerto Rico, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic and Ireland arriving on June 10 to be performing in the area until June 17.
As is usual, a highlight of the week is the Ecumenical Service, hosted by Pastor Steve Odom and the Central Christian Church, 404 E. Main St., Murfreesboro on Wednesday, June 13, at 7 p.m. All groups will also perform on Friday, June 15, beginning at 7 p.m. at Patterson Park Community Center and on Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at the Manchester Art Center.
There will also be public performances from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, on the East side of the Rutherford County Courthouse. During the time the groups are here, all of their transportation, food, and lodging must be furnished.
They will be performing each weekday for various schools, nursing homes, retirement homes, senior citizens' groups, boys and girls clubs, etc. They will also be conducting Master Classes for the Tennessee young people who will be on the MTSU campus for the dance section of the Governor's School for the Arts.
Through a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, they are housed in MTSU dorms. Other major sponsors include the City of Murfreesboro, Middle TN Electric Membership Corporation, Breakfast Rotary, Wilson Bank, the Antique Car Club, and TN Car and Van Rental, as well many individuals, civic groups, and other businesses in the community. More information can be obtained from the festival website, www.mboro-international-folkfest.org.
Cripple Creek Cloggers continue to teach and rehearse each Tuesday night at 220 E. Vine Street from 7 to 8:30. They perform traditional, Appalachian-style square dancing with a clogging step, the type of folk dance that is so closely associated with East and Middle Tennessee.
Most of their performances include live music with the guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle and mandolin creating the rhythms for the dancers' movements. Most always, audiences are invited to join the dancing, which is a prime characteristic of this form of dance - anyone can participate! Membership and classes are free. CCC performs at various events in the area as well as traveling to represent the U.S. in international folkloric festivals around the world.
In 2009, for instance, they made two trips to Europe, first to Italy in February and then to France and Spain in July. In 2010, they spent eighteen days performing in international festivals in the Czech Republic. In 2011, they spent two weeks performing in southwestern France. In July 2012, they will teach and perform in special events and festivals in Latvia and Lithuania.
All funding for the travel is provided by the dancers themselves and their families. For more information about the troupe, see their website, www.cripplecreekcloggers.org.
For more information, contact Steve Cates, founder and current director, at 615-896-3559 or cell 615-542-4162.