by Barb Childers
In Appalachian tradition, old timers say “ringin’ in” is the proper way to bring in the new year. This could include anything sufficiently clamorous to chase away bad luck — from ringing bells to making a “loud ruckus banging on pots and pans, setting off fireworks and taking part in other noisy activities” (see appalachianhistory.net).
Cincinnati urban Appalachians keep the tradition alive annually with Ringin’ In An Appalachian New Year, gathering on a Sunday in January to spend the afternoon celebrating a shared heritage. This year on January 18 we came together at Holy Family Church in Price Hill, as we have for perhaps fifteen years now. Instead of anvil shooting or cow bell ringing, our Ringin’ featured four straight hours of fiddle zinging and banjo twanging and harmony singing. Russ Childers organized local favorites Rabbit Hash String Band, Corn Cobs, Green Willow, Carter Bridge, and the Queen City String Band to keep toes a-tapping.
But the Ringin’ In is much more than a musical feast. Food fest organizers Nancy Laird and Donna Jones coordinated a community potluck of family favorites which began at 1:00. Until the last fiddle note rang out at 5:00, folks visited at the long tables set up around the dance floor.
In between bands, Omope Carter Daboiku, everyone’s favorite storyteller, put stories from the audience onstage by reading from their accumulated memories. These are preserved as an “Appalachian Word Quilt,” a project of remembrances collected by Barb Childers since 2004 that Ringin’ In participants add to every year. The Puncheon Floor Dancers treated the audience to a demonstration of Kentucky Running Set called by MM Jamison. Clogger Paul Adkins kicked up his heels for the crowd and told about dancing alongside his Eastern Kentucky family since he was an infant in Pike County. But Russ Childers didn’t let the audience sit still for long. He pulled even the most reluctant out on the floor for the beloved ol’ Virginia Reel.
Since the Ringin’ In is all about raising a ruckus, cheers rang out when Jeff Dey’s Peach Crumble Pie (his mother’s recipe) won first place in the Pie Contest over 5 other mouthwatering pie entries. Nona Carter whooped and went home richer when her name was drawn to Split the Pot with the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition, the sponsoring agency for the event. MM Jamison hollered her way to first place in the wildly popular Hollerin’ Contest — and won first place in our hearts as she told a story about feeding the hogs as a child in Kentucky and having one reach up and take a nibble from her belly! The thought made everybody squeal.
See what you missed? The next Ringin’ In An Appalachian New Year is Sunday, January 17, 2016. Y’all come!