by Omope Carter Daboiku
UACC garnered a highly visible collaboration in February with the award-winning, internationally acclaimed Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal as co-producer for Passport to Appalachia 2015. The Passport programs encourage visitors to stop and explore exhibits, engage in conversation about the culture presented, and obtain a ‘passport stamp’ for answering questions correctly; when fully completed, families are entered into a drawing for a free membership. As co-producers, UACC was in the forefront, providing quality talent representing the wide diversity of Appalachian music, stories, and people. UACC Cultural Committee member Omope Carter Daboiku, founder/director of Homeside Cultural Programming and long time Museum consultant, served as event manager.
All the activities in the Terminal’s iconic Rotunda and Losantiville Dining Room were absolutely free and open to the public. Inside the Losantiville Room, visitors interacted with historical interpreters who in character explained the skills necessary to survive on America’s first frontier, and why they were choosing to migrate to the Ohio country. Members of Clans Destin shared the Celtic immigrant experience and taught 18th century games, while the Miami Valley Reenactors Society encouraged visitors to experience flintknapping for arrow heads, Inkle weaving for belts and straps, and corn grinding using mortar and pestle. EduDoc, a local exhibition design company, shared photographs of deep, underground mining processes in eastern Kentucky, as well as examples of safety equipment which children (and parents) were encouraged to try on. To earn their stamp, participants were asked to mine the chocolate chips from a cookie; afterward, they were told they had to restore the cookie to its original condition — a powerful and simple way to explain the challenges of land reclamation. EduDoc also provided videos for the Newsreel Theater where folks could learn about the peoples and resources of the Appalachian region, which stretches from southern New York to Northern Alabama and includes many of Ohio’s southeastern and eastern counties.
Folks waiting for entry to exhibits and movies surveyed vendors’ crafts, sat a spell, laughed at the jokes, and tapped their feet to familiar tunes. Storytellers Hannah Sue Cooper and Omope Daboiku kicked off the day with stories from the Appalachian folk tradition, filled with puns and proverbs. Appalachian-inspired music rang through the rotunda from outstanding local artists, including Green Willow, Carter Bridge, and Bearfoot. Ohio Arts Council Master Musician Warren Waldron, along with his wife Judy Waldron and apprentices Susan Pepper and Jonathan Bradshaw, showcased traditional fiddle and banjo tunes.
Our host table was also a Passport Stamping Station with the question: “What state lies entirely within the Appalachian region?” (Answer: West Virginia!) One of the most popular stops was a large glass-covered map of the region where one could place a dot on the town or county they call home. Several visitors (including Claire Pollock, CMC’s Director of Public Education!) were surprised to find their home place was within the boundaries set by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
We ended the fun-filled day with a special treat as Russ Childers profiled his antique possum hide banjo, made in the African tradition and forerunner to the modern instrument. He also managed to shame enough adults to make a four-couple set for the Virginia Reel, which included Terry Dickey, CMC Assistant VP for Community Engagement. We did our best to follow the calls and made it to the end, sweating like athletes!
Our next gathering is a Photo Archive Party, April 11 and will include music and dancing. For more information about upcoming events, workshops, speakers and exhibitions, dance sessions or residencies with our Ohio Arts Council approved Master Teaching Artists, keep checking back with our website, www.uacvoice.org.
Image Credit: arc.gov