Folk Heritage Association founder named honorary historian of Macon County
“You just can’t trust these folks,” said a smiling Margaret Ramsey on Saturday after the suprise announcement that she had been named Honorary Historian for Macon County. “They got me,” she said.
In fact, it was more than a month ago that the county board of commissioners voted to bestow the title on Ramsey, one of the original founders of the Franklin Folk Festival which celebrated its eigth consecutive year last weekend. But despite the long delay, family, friends and colleagues all managed to keep the citation a secret.
This is the second year the county has chosen to honor an individual for their contributions to the community in highlighting and emphasizing the historical and cultural heritage of Macon County.
“For over 30 years, Mrs. Ramsey’s extraordinary dedication and efforts on behalf of heritage preservation have truly been above and beyond the norm,” reads the resolution adopted last month by the board.
Ramsey has been a long-time leader in local efforts to preserve and bring new emphasis on the county’s history and cultural heritage. The Folk Heritage Association, which Ramsey currently chairs, received the Franklin Chamber of Commerce's Civic Organization of the Year award in 2010 for its efforts to revitalize public interest in the area’s cultural heritage.
Ramsey’s vision and leadership were also instrumental in establishing the Folk Festival, which annually draws thousands of people to the town to learn about and enjoy the various aspects of Macon County's mountain heritage.
“Margaret Ramsey has been a driving force in the heritage of this county for years,” said Vice Chairman Bob Kuppers at the board meeting when the honor was first announced.
Commissioner Ronnie Beale noted that Ramsey was also the driving force behind MacoCrafts, a now defunct cooperative that was influential in reenergizing the interest in heritage crafts in the region.
“It’s been a life-long journey for Margaret as she’s worked, and she’s always a pleasure to work with,” remarked Beale.
Among the many projects Ramsey is involved in, as chair of the Folk Heritage Association, she has been actively promoting the development of a Folk Heritage Village in Franklin which would present the customs and crafts of the region at a “living village” that would include replicas of traditional buildings, interpretive displays, events and classes.
On Saturday, Ramsey said plans for the Village have been put on hold temporarily because of the economy. “But we’ve not given up on it at all,” she said. “The dream is still there.”
One potential site that has discussed for the facility is adjacent to the Groves Building of Southwestern Community College next to the Macon County Library.
Ramsey said that the Folk Heritage Associations was established with two goals in mind – the establishment of the Folk Festival and, as a long-range goal, of the Folk Heritage Village.
“The festival is keeping the traditions and the interest alive,” said Ramsey, who noted that attendance and publicity this year exceeded all expectations, and even included a number of television features highlighting the festival.
Last year, Barbara McRae was recognized as an honorary historian in the county for the articles she has penned as editor of The Franklin Press. According to Kuppers, it was McRae who recommended Ramsey be the next recipient of the honor. Kuppers said he would like to see the honorary historian designation become a regular recognition by the board.