Directing grade-school plays hardly prepared Robin Waggoner for thespian writing. Waggoner, a 30-year teacher at Prichard Elementary School, wrote most of “The Traipsin’ Woman — The Jean Thomas Story,” about the life of the Ashland woman who started the American Folk Festival in 1930 and kept it going for most of the next 42 years.
Waggoner wrote the play as part of a $10,000 grant to the Grayson Gallery and Art Center from the Brushy Fork Institute in Berea. She said gallery directors Dan and Mindy Click thought a drama would be a good idea.
Jean Thomas called him the “first primitive, unlettered Kentucky mountain minstrel to cross the sea to fiddle and sing his own and Elizabethan ballads in the Royal Albert Hall in London.” She presented to the American public a man she said spent his life in the mountains, never to come into contact with the modern […]
At the first call of the robin in the spring, Aunt Emmie on Honey Camp Run, in clean starched apron and calico frock, dragged her rocker to the front stoop of her little house and there she sat for hours rocking contentedly while her nimble fingers moved swiftly with crochet needle and thread. “Aunt Emmie’s […]
One Christmas morn in eighty-one, Ashland Kentucky that quiet burg, Was startled the day had not yet dawned When the cry of fire was heard. For well they knew two fair ladies Had there retired to bed. The startled crowd broke in, alas, To find the girls both dead. And from the hissing, seething flames […]
She had hosted Susan Steele Sampson, wife of Kentucky’s governor, the previous year at her first American Folk Song Festival, held at the Traipsin’ Woman Cabin. Now, in August 1931, Jean Thomas found herself invited to the Governor’s mansion in Frankfort to discuss the creation of an American Folk Song Society and an annual festival […]