​T’s Antiques Calls it a Day


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
A Rolex watch may have been the biggest discovery amongst the flotsam and jetsam of yard sale items, but companionship was the most valuable treasure people found at T’s Antiques in Cowan.
Almost every night, Polly Hughes, T.A. Galloway, Dot Davidson and their friends gather at Polly’s for Rummikub, a version of rummy with colored and numbered tiles in lieu of playing cards. The three former T’s Antiques cohorts can’t decide who’s the best player.
“T.A. and Dot are pretty good; I’d say they’re about even,” Polly said.
“She’s the champ, really,” Dot counters, indicating Polly.
Dot reconsiders and leans toward T.A. as the best player.
“Anybody who’d play all night and have one point has to be considered the champ,” she said.
Dot’s great grandmother was a sister to Polly’s grandmother, and T.A. (Thomas Allen) is Polly’s nephew. The trio worked together at T’s Antiques, but they closed the business in early July, and the building and items inside were recently auctioned off.
Polly’s late husband Charlie came up with the idea of opening a “junk shop” for T.A., (the “T” in T’s Antiques) which they opened in downtown Cowan in 1985.
“We started across the street from where we are now with a bunch of junk,” Polly said .
The junk evolved into more beautiful wares and Polly especially enjoyed the Southwestern fare, the china and the silver. T.A. said he was partial to furniture, but Dot loved “all of it.”
“To me it was playing house,” Dot said, “because you could decorate and if you didn’t like that, tomorrow you could take it down and do it another way.”
She was in the background of the store for years, but joined as an official employee about four years ago.
“I appreciate beautiful things in life, we all do, and I can see the beauty in very simple things,” Dot said. “I was attracted to old wheels and lots of old things that I could see the beauty in.”
Most of the items at T’s Antique’s came from yard sales and in addition to local pickers, they had a picker in Florida who found items of interest and/or value in the Sunshine State. In addition to that Rolex watch, they sometimes found beautiful paintings, linens, glassware and other goodies.
“It was like treasure hunting,” T.A. said .
Experts sometimes advised the trio on what an item was worth, or the trio would combine their knowledge of antiques to set a value.
“We weren’t always right, but you know what we did? We just marched on,” Dot said.
Polly, who turns 99 on Aug. 5, said if she were younger she’d open another shop.
“It wasn’t work, honey,” she said, “it was just fun.”
Polly opened the first flower shop in Cowan in 1948, she said , and owned a job placement service in Nashville, Polly Hughes Personnel Service, from 1960 to 1983 when she moved back home to Cowan.
Many people contributed to the antique shop over the years, including Linda Coleman, whom T.A. said was a “key ingredient and hard worker,” as well as Chester Smith, a local picker.
Polly, Dot and T.A say what they’ll miss most are the folks who visited the shop.
“The people came from all over the world, we got all kinds of people, all nationalities,” T.A. said .
“We had a marvelous clientele…” Polly adds. “It was the people who made it, really and truly. You just looked forward to them coming back.”
Both Polly and Dot agree it was T.A.’s kindness that made the business so welcoming.
“T.A.’s success through the years has certainly been his knowledge of his merchandise and his kindness and warm personality,” Dot said, “and his patience with the people when he was explaining things. If they wanted to talk about something 30 minutes or an hour, that was fine with him.”
Now that the doors to T’s Antiques are closed, two of the three say they are retired.
“You have regrets, but it was kind of a relief too,” Polly said.
Dot is unsure of the future.
“Who knows, we may not be retired long,” she said.
“Bite your tongue,” T.A. replies.
Regardless, the nightly Rummikub gatherings and friendships that started well before the shop closed are going to continue. Polly said the neighbors may wonder about all the cars in the driveway.
“They think we’re probably gambling up here,” she jokes, “making meth or something. They don’t know what we’re doing.”

​SUD to Amp Up Sanitary Survey Inspections


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The Sewanee Utility District (SUD) plans to perform Sanitary Survey Inspections of all commercial customers to determine if there is a need for a backflow prevention device. The decision followed a review of the Cross Connection Policy at the July 24 meeting. The policy requires backflow prevention devices in any situation where there is a possibility of drinking water contamination by fluid from outside sources.
Commercial circumstances posing potential backflow hazards include drink machines and sprinkler and irrigation systems.
SUD Manager Ben Beavers and another SUD employee recently completed training for certification as backflow testing technicians.
“SUD’s Cross Connection Policy is the same as the model the state uses,” Beavers said. “There’s no rule that commercial accounts are required to have backflow prevention devices, but many municipalities require it.”
The board discussed changing the policy to require backflow devices on all commercial accounts.
“What I recommend is that we start with identifying the need and inspect all commercial accounts before the end of the year,” said board President Charlie Smith
“We can get it done by then,” Beavers said.
The board will consider amending the Cross Connection Policy to require backflow prevention devices for all new commercial accounts and whenever a business changes hands.
Updating the board on the waterline replacement project, Beavers said the contractor Danson Construction expected to begin work on the South Carolina Avenue segment next week.
“There won’t be any impact on homeowners until the contractor crosses the creek at Abbo’s Alley,” Beavers said. Danson predicts it will take two weeks to complete the South Carolina portion of the job. The South Carolina segment will be the potentially most disruptive to the University.
Highly supportive of the project, the University is allowing the contractor to use its lay-down yard for equipment and material storage, and to deposit vegetative debris at its brush dump.
Commenting on operations, Beavers said the heavy rainfall in June made it necessary for the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) to spray more water than it was taking in to manage rainfall’s contribution to the lagoons. The Sewanee area received eight inches of rain in June, twice the normal amount.
On the financial side, Beavers said the contingency amount in the budget should pay for the new pump ordered for the WWTP—“I set the budget to pay for one unexpected emergency per year.” Disposable towelettes in the sewer system clogged the pump and rendered it inoperable. SUD hopes to repair the other pumps damaged by the towelettes.
Updating the board on the South Cumberland Regional Drought Plan drafted by SUD and the other area water utilities following the drought of 2007, Beavers said he met recently with the water utility managers to discuss the required review and renewal of the plan. Beavers volunteered to head up the review.
“Basically the drought plan says if one system has an emergency the others will do whatever we can to help them out,” Beavers explained. “It also stipulates if one utility goes to restrictions, the others will go to the same level of restrictions until the emergency is over.”
This has only occurred once since the plan was adopted. Two years ago Monteagle went on voluntary restrictions, and the other utilities did, as well.
The board meets next on Aug. 28.

​Concerto Winners Reflect on Success


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
A person enjoying a musical performance can imagine the bliss a musician must feel getting lost in the music and entertaining a rapt audience.
Maybe bliss is too strong a word.
“A lot of fear,” replies violinist Ben Garrett, 15, in response to the question of what it feels like to perform music on stage.
The other musicians around the table voice their agreement, even though they are each standout performers, winners of the 2018 Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF).
Of course, performing has its joys, said Yónder Muñoz, 23, who lives in San Jose, Costa Rica, and attends the University of Costa Rica.
“In my country, you can be playing music or collecting coffee, that’s the most common work, or be working on a farm or something like that,” the percussionist said. “I feel very blessed when I’m playing; I think there are a lot of people that can’t do this. When I play I try to focus and share my happiness to be here.”
For Lucas Zeiter, 21, a native of Las Vegas and student at the University of Washington, playing the bassoon for audiences is a tremendous alternative.
“I went into college doing behavioral neuroscience and then I realized how much I hated that and how much I loved performing and playing and sharing music with people,” Zeiter said. “I’m really humbled by where we’re at, but I think as musicians we just want to continue to push ourselves to get better.”
Joining Garrett, Muñoz and Zeiter as winners of the Concerto Competition are Izumi Amemiya, 19, a student at the University of Indiana; Qiang Fu, 26, from the University of Oklahoma; and Sylvan Zhang, 15, a student at Stillwater High School in Oklahoma, who started playing violin when he has five-years-old.
More than 60 performers participated in this year’s Concerto Competition, which is an annual part of the SSMF. The contestants competed individually in two rounds judged by SSMF faculty, with the six winners performing with the Festival Orchestra on July 19.
All but Zhang sat down in the SSMF office the day prior to the orchestra performance to talk to about their passion for and dedication to music.
Amemiya, an oboe player and native of Honolulu, started playing piano around the age of 7, but picked up the oboe in middle school.
“I wasn’t really serious about it until I started auditioning for college, but when I got into college I changed my major to performance. I realized that playing the oboe means a lot to me and I just wanted to see how far I can push myself,” she said.
All of the winners have a laundry list of accomplishments, a few of which include Amemiya acting as principal oboist of Indiana University’s concert band, Zeiter performing with the Seattle Symphony, and Garrett winning the Greater Houston Youth Orchestra concerto competition.
To get as good as these Concerto winners requires practicing hours per day. Garrett said he practices two to three hours each day during the school year in Madison, Ala., but five to six hours a day on weekends and in the summer.
The SSMF is considered a premiere orchestra and chamber music festival, which draws musicians from around the world.
Fu, a native of Inner Mongolia, moved to the States about three years ago. He said he feels more appreciated in the U.S.
“It’s not that popular in China,” the violinist said. “Before I came here, I didn’t practice that much orchestra and chamber music.”
Fu competed in the Concerto Competition with the piece, Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 22 by Henryk Wieniawski.
Muñoz notes that one of his professors at the University of Costa Rica encouraged him to attend SSMF.
“It’s exciting to be here,” he said, “being at a festival that every musician in Costa Rica knows about and playing with good musicians and faculty.”
Muñoz, whose grandfather and parents are professional musicians, said he plans to play professionally. Others at the table say they’d also like to play for living, but Garrett, who also has interests in robotics and math, said he’s undecided.
As winners of the Concerto Competition, each received scholarships for next year’s SSMF.
Walter Nance and Mayna Avent Nance established the Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition in 2007 to honor Mayna’s older sister, who died the same year. Jacqueline was a school teacher in California and longtime employee at a children’s museum in Nashville.

​MGT Project Doubled with Acquisition of CSX Property in Grundy County

With the acquisition of 17 miles of former railbed from CSX Corporation, Grundy County plans to double the length of the Mountain Goat Trail (MGT), expanding the greenway to bring increased tourism and quality of life to this ruggedly beautiful part of the state.

“The Mountain Goat Trail is a crucial part of our plans to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Grundy County, as well as visitors. We realize the trail will be completed in phases, but purchasing 17 miles of Mountain Goat Railroad bed from CSX will allow us to continue developing the Trail as a driver of wellness and economic development for our area,” Grundy Mayor Michael Brady said.
In July, the county finalized the transfer of the property, located between the towns of Tracy City, Coalmont and Palmer. When completed, the Mountain Goat Trail will stretch nearly forty miles from Cowan in Franklin County onto the Cumberland Plateau, past the University of the South in Sewanee, and through the historic towns of Monteagle, Tracy City, and Coalmont before ending in Palmer.
“The addition of the CSX property in Grundy County is a game-changer for the Mountain Goat Trail,” said Mountain Goat Trail Alliance board president Nate Wilson. “Taking the trail from 12 miles to almost 30 miles, with more to come in the future, enlarges the possibilities for tourism, supporting businesses, and connecting the communities here in the South Cumberland region.”
The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance, with assistance from The Land Trust for Tennessee, facilitated the acquisition. Funding for the project was made possible by an Asset Enhancement Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the South Cumberland Community Fund.
“The Mountain Goat Trail is such a visible, accessible beacon of the social, health and economic benefits of land conservation,” said The Land Trust for Tennessee President and CEO, Liz McLaurin. “Our organization is thrilled to partner on the transformation of this former railroad into a vibrant resource for Tennesseans and visitors alike.”
A 2012 study by the Babson Center for Global Commerce at the University of the South estimated the annual economic benefit of $1.2 million to the towns along the Mountain Goat Trail. With five miles completed and six more due to open by late 2019, the trail is already seeing substantial use by both locals and visitors. The CSX property, connecting the Fiery Gizzard and Savage Gulf State Parks, is expected to create more trail users, and to spur the creation of businesses and services for them.

To learn more, go to www.mountaingoattrail.org


​SCC Grant Applications Available

Since 1908, the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) has overseen the distribution of grants to nonprofit organizations across the Cumberland Plateau. Sponsored by the the SCA, the Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) is pleased to announce the beginning of the 2018–19 grant cycle. All nonprofits that benefit the community are encouraged to apply.

Starting on Wednesday, Aug.1, the 2018–19 funding application can be downloaded from the website at sewaneecivicwordpress.com . Interested nonprofits may also request an application by emailing the SCC at sewaneecommunitychest@gmail.com. The deadline for submission is Sept. 15. Grants typically range from $200 to $25,000.
The SCC is a nonprofit organization and relies on funding from the community in order to support charitable programs throughout the greater Sewanee area. As the 2018–19 grant cycle begins, the SCC is also kicking off its yearlong fundraising campaign.
The SCA urges everyone who benefits from life in this community, whether you live, work, or visit, to give to the SCC. Donations are tax deductible. Contributions, payroll deductions, and pledges are accepted at any time at P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375.
Donations can also be made online through PayPal and Amazon Smile links on the SCA website.

​Early Voting Continues

Early voting for the Thursday, Aug. 2 state primary and county general election is now underway. Voting will end Saturday, July 28.

Tennesseans voting early or on Election Day should remember to bring valid photo identification. Photo IDs issued by Tennessee state government, including driver’s licenses, or the federal government are acceptable even if they are expired. College student IDs are not acceptable.
More information about what types of ID are acceptable can be found at <GoVoteTN.com>.
For a list of county election commissions and sample ballots, go to https://tnsos.net/govotetn/


or call the Division of Elections toll free at 1-877-850-4959.
On Thursday, Aug. 2, Election Day, residents vote at their local precinct, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 6 federal and state general election is Oct. 9.

Couple Launches Zoom Groom Pet Service

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

There’s a 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter rolling through Sewanee and surrounding towns where a dog can get on board for a blueberry facial and nail polishing, topped off with a bandana. Of course, those no-frills canines can just grab a warm bath and blow dry.
Richard and Laura Lee Ray opened Zoom Groom Mobile Pet Spa earlier this month, a full-service grooming van they’ll pull right into a customer’s driveway. Richard is the driver and Laura is the pet groomer, boasting more than 30 years’ experience.
“I like being able to take a dog that’s in pretty rough shape and make it beautiful, and I can watch the reaction of his mom or dad, his human parents, when they see the dog when he’s done,” she said. “There’s a lot of creativity.”
Richard retired from the Air Force after serving 12 years in multiple countries and states, working in public affairs, including radio and TV jobs for the Armed Forces Network.
He said Zoom Groom saves people time and is less stressful for dogs and cats because they get one-on-one service at home and aren’t caged while they wait.
The Rays had just finished grooming a Lhasa-Poo in Winchester—a cross between a Lhasa Apso and poodle—on the day of this interview.
“The lady was able to sit in her house and do whatever she wanted to do,” Richard said. “She handed us a dirty dog, we gave her back a clean one.”
The van is equipped with a generator and propane gas to power and heat the water and grooming equipment. Decked out with pawprints and a logo of a cat and dog in a bubble bath, Laura said the Sprinter draws attention.
“Kids stare and have their mouths wide open,” she said. “Of course, I was the same way when I saw it myself.”
A handful of the many services Zoom Groom offers include yucca flea and tick treatment, de-shedding, teeth and ear cleanings, pads shaved and trimmed, and massage.
Zoom Groom primarily uses natural Quadruped products, Laura noted.
As for that blueberry facial, she said it’s a great way to pamper a dog.
“I like the smell of it and the results. It brightens up the face; if they have a white face it makes it whiter and it makes them smell really good for two weeks,” she said.
Laura, who also served in the Air Force and is originally from California, is a graduate of the Pedigree Professional School of Dog Grooming.
The Rays moved to the Sewanee area from Crestview, Fla., near Destin. They owned a mobile grooming service from 2009-10 in Florida, Richard said. After the Deepwater Horizon massive oil spill in April 2010, the area’s economy suffered and they closed the business.
Laura said the family fell in love with the Sewanee area just driving through when their kids were much younger and the mountains, cost-of-living and four seasons lured them to their new home.
The Rays attend Morton Memorial United Methodist Church in Monteagle, where Laura sings in the choir. In his spare time, Richard is a ham radio operator.
For more information about Zoom Groom call (931) 313-9950 or (423) 403-0123, or visit <zoom-groom.com>.


​County Commission Approves Funding for Middle Schools Design

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

In a split vote at the July 16 meeting, the Franklin County Commission approved funding the design plan for two new middle schools, cost $1.8 million, with the intention of issuing bonds at a later date to fund the actual building project.
“The commission was concerned about the project requiring a property tax increase,” said Chair Eddie Clark.
Clark initially favored putting off construction of two new middle schools until full repayment of the high school debt in 2022. Further research showed the county could defer principal payments on the middle schools project until 2022, and pay the interest from the Education Debt Service fund.
“We project a $3.4 million balance in the Education Debt Service at the end of this year,” Clark said. “With the growth we anticipate, I believe we can do it without a property tax increase. Worst case scenario will require a 5 cent tax increase in 2023.”
In addition to property tax, revenue from sales tax also supports the schools.
The Franklin County School Board began investigating how best to address the problem of the two aging middle schools in 2015. The board looked at building a single consolidated school, building two new schools, and renovating the existing structures. Initial cost estimates led the board to favor the more economical option of a single consolidated school. Public opinion strongly favored two schools. In May, Clardy Construction Consulting presented the board with a less costly plan for two new schools.
“I thought at one time the schools could be remodeled,” said Commissioner Angie Fuller, “but after seeing Clardy’s video showing the condition of the roofs and the mold in the walls, I’m in favor of two new schools.”
Commissioner Gene Snead, who favored a single consolidated school, argued,“over the next 50 years, the assumed life span of a building, it will cost the county more to operate two campuses.” Snead cited higher costs for STEM and vocational enhancement opportunities, as well as salaries, maintenance, and utilities.
Commissioner Dave Van Buskirk said, “I listened to the educators. They’re the experts. The one versus two schools decision isn’t just a money issue. There’s more to education than the building. It’s about smaller schools for the children and a better environment.”
Enthusiastic applause followed.
Commissioner Snead, Commissioner David Eldridge, and Commissioner Doug Goodman voted against the $1.8 million resolution.
“This will take a 25 year note,” said Eldridge. “There are other older schools that may require a major capital investment. I think we ditched the renovation option too quickly.”
“I’m thrilled,” said School Board Chair CleiJo Walker. “This is what the board wanted all along. The children will get to stay with their friends and school family.” Walker pointed to more opportunities for student participation in extracurricular activities like competitive sports. “We’re going to have a lot of community involvement.”

​Sewanee Writers’ Conference Continues Through July 28

Celebrating its 29th summer session, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference continues through Saturday, July 28, and features readings, panels and lectures by nationally-recognized faculty, editors, publishers and literary agents. All readings and lectures are free, open to the public, and held in the University of the South’s Mary Sue Cushman Room of the Bairnwick Women’s Center.

Upcoming events include readings by fiction writers Alice McDermott, Adrianne Harun, Jill McCorkle, Richard Bausch, Tony Earley, Jeffery Renard Allen, Allan Gurganus, Michael Knight, and Christine Schutt; poets B.H. Fairchild, Mark Jarman, Caki Wilkinson, Marilyn Nelson, Sidney Wade, Greg Williamson, Wyatt Prunty, Maurice Manning, A.E. Stallings, and Charles Martin; and playwright Dan O’Brien.
A complete Conference schedule can be found on page 8, or online at <sewaneewriters.org/schedule>. Authors’ books are available at the University Book & Supply Store.
Supported by the Walter E. Dakin Memorial Fund established through the estate of the late Tennessee Williams, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference offers instruction and criticism to writers through a series of workshops, readings, and craft lectures in poetry, fiction, and playwriting. For more information, call (931) 598-1654 or visit <sewaneewriters.org>.

​Final Events for the Sewanee Summer Music Festival

The Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF) concludes this weekend.

The Friday Chamber Music Concerts showcase student chamber ensembles in three venues. These concerts are free and open to the public. The final Chamber Music Concert is today (Friday), July 20, from 7–8:30 p.m. at Guerry Auditorium, St. Luke’s Chapel and Convocation Hall.
The Saturday Garth Concert is 11 a.m.–noon, Saturday, July 21. The orchestral fellows in chamber music perform in the outdoor space between Convocation Hall and Walsh-Ellett Hall. These concerts are free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lunch and enjoy an outdoor concert.
The Faculty Artist Series Concert is 7:30–9 p.m., Saturday, July 21, in Guerry Auditorium. Repertoire includes Samuel Suggs: Solo Work to be Announced from Stage, Alejandro Viñao: Estudios de Frontera, and Antonio Dvorak: Piano Quintet.Tickets are $20.
The annual Festival Brass Concert is at 10 p.m., Saturday, July 21, in All Saints’ Chapel. This event is free.
The Cumberland Orchestra will perform Sunday, July 22, at 2:30 p.m., and the Sewanee Symphony performs at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at <ssmf.sewanee.edu/tickets>, or at the box office on the day of the concert.
The Cumberland Orchestra, under the skillful hands of Daniel Boothe, will perform Jacques Offenbach: La Belle Helene Overture and the Sewanee premiere of Mark Camphouse: Dedications.
The Sewanee Symphony, under the direction of Robert Moody, will present “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein and “Engima Variations” by Edward Elgar.
For complete information and to purchase tickets, go to ssmf.sewanee.edu.

​Early Voting for August Elections

Early voting in the Franklin County August elections begins on Friday, July 13. Voting takes place at the Franklin County Election Commission, 839 Dinah Shore Blvd., in Winchester. The office is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday during early voting. Early voting ends on Saturday, July 28.

For more information about Franklin County voting, contact Margaret Ottley at the Election Commission office at (931) 967-1893.
For Grundy County election information call (931) 692-3551. For Marion County election information call (423) 942-2108 or go to www.marionvotes.com.
The election will be on Thursday, Aug. 2. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All voters must present an ID containing the voter’s name and photograph when voting at the polls, whether voting early or on Election Day.
Examples of acceptable forms of identification include Tennessee driver licenses, U.S. passports, Department of Safety photo ID cards, U.S. military photo IDs, and other photo IDs issued by the federal or Tennessee state governments.
The ballot for the state primary includes governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representative, Tennessee House of Representatives, State Executive Committeeman and Committeewoman, and judicial retention questions.
Offices up for election in the County General include winners from the county primaries, including mayor, sheriff and county commission, and seats on the school board.

​Morton Memorial Fish Fry

The 12th annual fish fry will be at Morton Memorial United Methodist Church (MMUMC) from 4–7 p.m., Saturday, July 28. This is a rain or shine event and take out is available. Come enjoy fried fish, french fries, hushpuppies, cole slaw and dessert.

All the proceeds will go toward the church’s community outreach programs, such as, Tools 4 Schools and Christmas on the Mountain.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children.
Call the church office at (931) 924-2192 for more information.

​Mountain Market for Arts and Crafts

The 59th annual Monteagle Mountain Market Arts and Crafts Show will be 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday, July 28, and 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sunday, July 29. The event is behind Monteagle City Hall, at 16 Dixie Lee Ave.

This event will feature talented artisans and crafters displaying their handmade creations, which includes fine art, stained glass, pottery, fine and primitive furniture, bird houses, paintings in a variety of media, quilts, woodcrafts, toys, jewelry, metal and glass art, hand sewn and embroidered items and much more. Children can enjoy the Kids Zone or the playground.
There will be several demonstrations, including blacksmithing, charcoal and graphite drawing, glass work, woodcrafts and chainsaw carving.
Prizes will be drawn throughout the day and you must be present to win.
A variety of delicious food will be available. There will be barbecue ribs, brisket, and pulled pork, beans, nachos, turkey legs, burgers, fries, hot dogs, corn dogs, kettle corn, funnel cakes, homemade banana pudding, pies, fresh made lemonade, sweet tea, sodas and more.
For more information call the South Cumberland Chamber of Commerce at (931) 924-5353 or email <info@southcumberlandchamber.com>.

​Sewanee Writers’ Conference Begins 29th Year

12 days of readings and lectures open with fiction writer Randall Kenan

Celebrating its29th summer session, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference will run from Tuesday, July 17, through Saturday, July 28, and feature readings, panels and lectures by nationally-recognized faculty, editors, publishers and literary agents.
The Conference will begin with a reading by fiction writer Randall Kenan on July 17, at 8:15 p.m. All readings and lectures are free, open to the public, and held in the University of the South’s Mary Sue Cushman Room of the Bairnwick Women’s Center.
Randall Kenan is the author of a novel, “A Visitation of Spirits,” and a collection of stories, “Let the Dead Bury Their Dead,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a nominee for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction, and a New York Times Notable Book. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award, the Sherwood Anderson Award, and the 1997 Rome Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Kenan was the John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi and now teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The first week will also feature readings by fiction writers Steve Yarbrough, Bobbie Ann Mason, Alice McDermott, Adrianne Harun and Jill McCorkle; poets B.H. Fairchild and Mark Jarman; and playwright Lauren Yee. The second week will feature readings by fiction writers Richard Bausch, Tony Earley, Jeffery Renard Allen, Allan Gurganus, Michael Knight and Christine Schutt; poets Caki Wilkinson, Marilyn Nelson, Sidney Wade, Greg Williamson, Wyatt Prunty, Maurice Manning, A.E. Stallings and Charles Martin; and playwright Dan O’Brien.
Editors from 32 Poems, 5E, Algonquin Books, The American Scholar, Blackbird, Copper Canyon Press, Crab Orchard Review, Ecotone, Grand Central Publishing, Grove Atlantic, The Hopkins Review, Kenyon Review, Knopf, Lookout Books, The Missouri Review, The New Criterion, New Directions, Northwestern University Press, The Paris Review, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, University of Arkansas Press, and The Weekly Standard will discuss publishing, as will agents from Aevitas Creative Management, Georges Borchardt Literary Agency, ICM Partners, Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents, The Williams Company, and The Wylie Agency.
Agents from Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Folio Literary Management, and The Gernert Company will also be in attendance, and representatives from Actors Theatre of Louisville and Agency for the Performing Arts will meet with playwrights.
A complete Conference schedule can be found on page 5, or online at <sewaneewriters.org/schedule>. Authors’ books are available for purchase at the University Book & Supply Store.
Supported by the Walter E. Dakin Memorial Fund established through the estate of the late Tennessee Williams, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference offers instruction and criticism to writers through a series of workshops, readings and craft lectures in poetry, fiction and playwriting. For more information, call (931) 598-1654 or visit <sewaneewriters.org>.

​Sewanee’s Griffey Stars as ‘Oliver’

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

“I have to be locked in a coffin, jump on someone’s back, get carried off stage—and I get smacked,” she said.
Eliza Griffey, 10, is eating a double chocolate muffin as she describes the abuse she takes as the lead in “Oliver!” showing at the South Jackson Civic Center in Tullahoma, through July 15.
The villains in the musical do not treat the orphan well, but Eliza only incurred one injury, a bruise during a practice faint. Her dad, Jason Griffey, said she had to learn “stage combat” for the role, which was a new twist for the young actress who’s also appeared regionally as Jojo in “Seussical” and Kate the orphan in “Annie.”
“There’s no stage combat in ‘Annie,’” Jason said, laughing. “…This is certainly her most demanding role, because Oliver is on stage so much, almost the whole show, and there’s a lot of physicality involved.”
The upcoming fifth grader at Sewanee Elementary School orders a water to help wash down the giant muffin. On the day of the interview at a local restaurant, it’s less than a week from the musical’s opening, which marks Eliza’s first leading role.
“’I’m nervous but excited at the same time,” she said. “I’m nervous that I’m going to mess up but I’m also really excited to just do it.”
Besides the physicality and stage time, Oliver is also demanding because it requires Eliza to tap into serious emotions.
“I think I’m better at comedy than drama, being sad and stuff like that,” she said, “because I can make people laugh really well, but it’s hard to make people feel sorry for me.”
Acting is her favorite activity, she said, between bites of chocolate muffin.
“I like that you get to be someone else for just a little period of time and you get to make the audience happy,” she said.
Besides acting, she also likes to read fantasy and graphic novels, adding that she loves to swim.
Jason, and Eliza’s mom, Betsy Sandlin, a Spanish professor at Sewanee, are both supportive in helping their daughter choose roles and get ready for performances.
“Mostly I’m just really proud of how hard she works,” Jason said. “The cool thing for me watching her, is that she’s found a passion where she works really hard and then gets to see the results of that hard work.”
He said when people clap and congratulate her on a good job, it’s touching.
“It’s really neat to see her be rewarded for her work she’s put in; that’s a cool thing to see for a dad,” Jason said.
One of Eliza’s biggest acting inspirations is Kristin Chenoweth, who’s appeared in film and TV, as well as being a Tony Award winner on Broadway. Eliza said she’d liked to act on Broadway eventually and her dream role is Elphaba in “Wicked.”
But in this moment, she’s relishing her first lead role in Tullahoma.
“It’s been really, really fun because I never feel like I have too much responsibility on me,” she said, “because all of the other cast kind of balances me out, because they’re so amazing.”
Based on Charles Dickens’ novel, Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” tells the tangled story of an orphan who falls in with a gang of pickpockets, his rescue by the benevolent Mr. Brownlow, and the forces who seek to destroy young Mr. Twist.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. each night, except for the Sunday matinee, July 15, at 2:30 p.m. For advance tickets, visit <southjackson.org> or call (931) 455-5321.

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