Tennessee historian, Cumberland Trail manager Bobby Fulcher to receive nation's highest honor in folk and traditional arts

Bobby Fulcher, the park manager for the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail, poses for a photo at the Laurel-Snow State Natural Area Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Rhea County, Tennessee. Fulcher is passionate about folk music and was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship, the nationճ highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

Bob Fulcher has been on a victory tour of sorts.

The longtime Tennessee State Parks employee and historian of Tennessee folklore may cringe at the description, but there have been state awards, local recognition, and coming soon, a National Heritage Fellowship - the nation's highest honor in folk and traditional arts.

The banjo-playin', trail-buildin' park manager for the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail, which runs through the Chattanooga area, is receiving the spotlight he shone on others for 40 years.

For those four decades, and counting, Fulcher worked for the parks system and met with deeply rooted Tennessee families to listen to their history, mostly through music. These families are the keepers of thousands of ballads of Appalachian music - also known as old-time, folk, banjo or traditional music.