37th celebration of 1890's Day in Ringgold May 25-26

37th celebration of 1890's Day in Ringgold May 25-26

May 23rd, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Catoosa


What: Ringgold's 35th annual 1890's Day Jamboree.

When: Friday, May 25 from 6-10 p.m. and Saturday, May 26 from 9 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.

Cost: All events are free.

More information and registration forms for pageants and contests can be found online at http://1890sday.com.

The calendar shows it is Memorial Day weekend, which means it is also time for RInggold's small-town, big-time event: its 1890's Day Jamboree.

"This year, as usual, it will be amazing," said Daniel Shepherd, the city's marketing coordinator.

The 37th annual event begins Friday with a night of gospel music and continues throughout the following day, ending with a late night pyrotechnics show. Between those bookend events, this year's free jamboree features a parade; more than 100 food, arts and crafts vendors; live music; dance, fiddle and talent contests; a beauty pageant; and a classic car show/cruise-in.

"I've been involved in 24 of these, and when I started everything was on the courthouse yard," said Dr. Ronal Graham, one of the jamboree's organizers.

There will still be plenty of activity around the courthouse, but entertainment and activity will stretch for several blocks of Nashville Street.

The main stages will not be so far apart this year, with one at the courthouse lawn and one at the Cleveland Street intersection.

Friday night, the stages will be devoted to gospel music. Saturday, the Northwest Georgia Bank Stage at the courthouse is devoted to a competition that features fiddlers, bands and cloggers.

A unique feature of 1890's Days is that professional musicians are hired to judge fiddlers, flat-picking guitarists, cloggers - all contests - according to Randall Franks, who is both a member of the Ringgold City Council and an internationally renowned bluegrass musician.

Due to Franks' involvement and the caliber of judges, winners of the jamboree's Old Time Fiddlers Convention Musical Competition receive an automatic bid to compete in the annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship in Nashville.

Nonstop music is a feature of 1890's Day, and not just at the courthouse, Shepherd said.

A beauty pageant will take place Friday night inside the Depot, the scene of a talent search and sing-off - "We're looking for the next Lauren Alaina" - on Saturday, he said.

Graham said contestants need to bring a CD of what they will sing and register Saturday morning.

"Preliminaries will be during the day beginning at noon, and the finalists will perform starting at 7 p.m.," he said.

Something new this year will be performances by the Chattanooga Songwriters Association on the Ringgold Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Stage on Cleveland Street.

"About a dozen country music songwriters will be performing alone and together for about four hours beginning at 2 p.m.," Graham said.

No 1890's Day Jamboree is complete without a parade. This year's steps off at 11 a.m., and fireworks and pyrotechnics will illuminate the night starting about 10 p.m., he said.

Graham said this award-winning event has "grown to become a monster," and that some will even plan vacations so they can enjoy everything about the 1890's Day Jamboree.

An ever-present part of the jamboree has nothing to do with parades, entertainment or celebrating the city's heritage. Surrounding the courthouse and lining the streets are 983 U.S. flags, each a silent memorial to a resident who served their country, their state, their county and their community.