Beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, the Thomas Amis historic settlement near Rogersville will stage the first annual Gospel on Big Creek festival.
The artists will perform for eight hours from the back veranda of the Big Creek Visitors Center facing the creek.
Guests are invited to bring a picnic lunch, fishing poles and lawn chairs and stake out some ground between the welcome center and the creek for free live music.
The festival was organized by Jessica English, whose parents make up two-thirds of the Rogersville-based gospel trio The English Family.
English said she and her family have been wanting to organize a gospel music festival for quite awhile.
“The Big Creek Visitors Center was chosen because it’s such a beautiful venue and (owner) Jake (Jacobs) is such an easy guy to work with,” she said. “Since Amis Mill Eatery opened, everybody has fallen in love with that place. It’s a known location, and for an event like this, location is everything.”
The style of music that will be featured Saturday is Southern gospel with a lot of bluegrass influence.
The groups which will be performing are artists The English Family has met over the years at the National Quartet Convention. Among them are The New Prophets, Sounds of Salvation, Mountain Grace, Terry Collins, Through Grace and True Gospel.
Although the concerts are free throughout the day, there is a $5 parking fee. All proceeds collected from parking will be turned over to a local Boy Scouts fundraiser.
In April, Jacobs hosted the grand opening of the Big Creek Visitors Center, which was renovated from an 1850s house on W. Bear Hollow Road across the road from the Amis Mill Eatery.
Jacobs said his purpose in opening the center was to promote local and regional historic tourism; create a museum that explained the links between the Amis settlement and other historic properties in the region; and create a venue for hosting events and festivals.
That’s why the site’s back veranda was constructed so that it can double as a stage.
This will be the second festival hosted by the welcome center since it opened. Earlier this month there was an American Indian Festival on the property.
“I’ve been talking with The English Family for some time about doing this, and they said, ‘Yeah!’ — and they took off with it,” Jacobs told the Times-News Tuesday. “I’m going to use the rear veranda of the visitors center as the stage. It’s pretty common for gospel music fans to bring their own lawn chairs. They’ll be sitting on the grass between the visitors center and Big Creek.
“It’s their show. I’m just the venue. But I think it’s a wonderful idea and a great opportunity for folks to come tour the visitors center, listen to some good music, have a nice meal, and just make a day of it.”
There will also be food for sale on the festival grounds behind the visitors center. Jacobs said he anticipates the festival food will consist of barbecue.
Table service and the regular menu will also be available across the street at the Amis Mill Eatery.
The Big Creek Visitors Center is located at 127 W. Bear Hollow Road about two miles south of Rogersville near the Burem Road intersection.