by Mike Templeton

The past year has been busy. We have seen urban Appalachians in print, on the stage, and in the news for all the best reasons. There is cause to mark the end of the old and the beginning of the new with both pride and gratitude. The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition has hosted readings, workshops, and performances, and we have full a calendar for the coming year. So now it is time to put the work aside and take time for our annual Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year.

This is the yearly celebration of Appalachian people and culture in which we gather to show gratitude for the gifts of the preceding year and look forward to the promise of what may come. We keep it simple for Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year. The event is mostly about good neighbors gathering around good food to mark the coming of the New Year. 

Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year is marking its 20th celebration this year. It began humbly in 2000 with the Urban Appalachian Council Cultural Group. Nancy Laird, Brenda Saylor, Mike Henson, and others thought it made sense to have a New Year celebration that was focused on urban Appalachian life and culture. I asked Nancy Laird about the origins of the event and she told me, “It just started with the Cultural Group and a few of us in the women’s group—making some hot dishes and bringing them to the UACC library. Then it took off.”

The event has moved around a few times: Holy Family in Price Hill, St. Philip’s in Northside, the Sanctuary in Lower Price Hill. But the idea has always been to keep the event in an urban Appalachian neighborhood. It is intended to welcome people and be accessible to the urban Appalachian community. This means taking time to focus on community in the form of a New Year’s celebration specifically centered on Appalachian people and culture.

As in years past, this year’s Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year will include a potluck dinner. Expect some home-cooked delicacies and bring a dish of your own. There will be a pie contest in which people can enter any pie they like to bake. This gets taken seriously. The pies are judged with no name on them so the judges can be impartial. It seems likely we will all benefit from this competition. There will also be square dancing, a hog calling contest, and split the pot. 

Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year will feature traditional Appalachian crafters including Melissa Baker, Cynthia Ford, and plenty more. The New Year Celebration will, of course, include music. Tellico, Old Soul String Band, and Green Willow, to name just a few, will be playing and singing. The entire event will be led by Omope Carter Daboiku, emcee.

Looking back on 2019, we see much to celebrate. Urban Appalachians have been in the spotlight for the best reasons, a few of which have or will appear in this blog. We also know there is still work to be done in the service of urban Appalachians all over Greater Cincinnati. That is why we take this time for Ringin’ in the Appalachian New Year and invite everyone to come celebrate with us. We will welcome 2020 with the hope, determination, and spirit that has always defined the Appalachian people and culture. 

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Mike Templeton is a writer, independent scholar, barista, cook, guitar player, and accidental jack-of-all-trades. He lives in downtown Cincinnati with his wife who is a talented photographer. They spend their free time walking around the city snapping photos. She looks up at that the grandeur of the city, while Mike always seems to be staring at the ground.

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