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 […]
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 […]