Tickbush Festival on Sept. 23

by Beth Riner, Messenger Staff Writer

Tickbush Festival 2023 will celebrate all things Midway, says David Goodpaster, vicar of St. James Episcopal Church, sponsor of the first-time event slated from 2–7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23.

Located at St. James Midway Community Park in Sewanee, the festival will feature bluegrass and gospel music, food trucks, and arts and crafts vendors. Admission is free, and folks are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.

Some of the local musicians performing are Sewanee Conglomerate, Freddie Saussy and Band, April Minkler and Friends, Robin Gottfried and Friends, Chaotic Neutral, Misty McGee, Bahley Minor, and Broad Mountain. It’s not too late to get added to the list, and folks are welcome to show up with instruments on the day and play time permitting.

Food trucks coming are Go Go Hoagies, Sells Sweets, Stinger, C & J Dogs & More, A-B Catering, Sweet Scoops, and Wander Brew.

Vendors to date include Amanda Knight (woodworking and resin crafts); Paint Rock Mountain (rocks, gemstones, jewelry); Dianna Lynn Baked Goods; Rachel Meeks Artworks; J’s Creations (decals, key chains, door hangers and tee shirts); Emmaline Hill (handmade jewelry); Goat Soap; Caroline Bennett (fall items); Mike Winn (clocks and serving trays); and Alisa Fox (artwork).

For Goodpaster, who became priest of St. James last November, it was important that the Tickbush Festival bring the Midway community together.

“One of the first things I did here at St. James was to reemphasize the importance of that community park,” Goodpaster said. The park is actually owned by the church, which has allowed the community to use it for years.

Church member Karen Vaughan, a former Sewanee Elementary School teacher who helped plan the festival, felt the history of the Midway community was also significant.

“This area has been here for a long, long time, and I think people don’t realize that,” she said. “We have so many new people who have moved into this community and have no idea that it’s been around since the 1800s.”

Longtime Midway resident and local fixture Amanda Knight was more than happy to become involved.

“We had always wanted to have a singing up here to bring all the churches together,” she said.

“We were trying to think of ideas on how to fully utilize that wonderful space that we have,” Goodpaster added. “We Episcopalians are not big time into bluegrass or gospel music obviously, but I still love it. I think it’s great, so I jumped on board.”

While brainstorming ways to make the festival happen, Goodpaster stumbled across an intriguing name: Tickbush. For some reason, the name resonated with him.

“One day, we were having a meeting, and I just kinda threw it out there, and everyone had a really good, big laugh, and then we went with it! It’s the uniqueness of the name, but it’s also the connection to the area,” he said. The three of them began delving into its history.

“One thing that we discovered is Tickbush is way back,” he said. “It was over here off Otter Falls back where Rabbit Run is, Pine Lane. It kinda butted up to the Clifftops property—like Lake Dimmick, that whole area. It was essentially the collection of families that lived in the area, and there was a school building where the kids went, and it was named Tickbush.”

Knight added, “It was half Marion County kids, half Franklin County kids.”

Their quest to find out more would lead them to 90-year-old Ann Pack, who has lived in the Midway area since she was six years old. Her mother, who grew up here, attended Tickbush School.

“All I can tell you about Tickbush is what my mother told me because it was gone well before my time,” Mrs. Pack said. Her mother, Leatha Parson Dykes, attended the school through the eighth grade and ended up going through the eighth grade twice because there wasn’t another school for her to attend.

Mrs. Pack isn’t exactly sure how Tickbush got its name.

“Now, I have no idea about that,” she said. “That was way before my time. I guess because they used to get out and roam all over the woods and pick berries and everything, and they’d get ticks and chiggers. That’s what I assume. I don’t know, but it sounds good to me.”

Goodpaster hopes the festival will become an annual event.

“St. James has always been involved in the community,” Vaughan added. “We try to have things for the community.”

Regular community events include the Back to School Bash, Blessing of the Animals, Trunk or Treat, St. Nicholas Festival and Easter Egg Hunt.

Arts and crafts vendors wishing to join the festival may contact Amanda Knight at (931) 691-0962. Musicians should call Karen Vaughan at (931) 636-1468.

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