May All Your Farm and Fun Times Be Merry! - The Birthplace of Country Music
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May All Your Farm and Fun Times Be Merry!

The Secret Sisters, one playing guitar and singing, the other singing, on stage.

The secret’s out. Farm and Fun Time is a Christmas Miracle!

December seemed to sneak up on us this year, and The Farm and Fun Time Christmas Ball was the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. As is becoming standard, we were thrilled to see another sold out Farm and Fun Time! And this month’s show was truly a joyous occasion featuring The Secret Sisters, Jill Andrews, Dr. Jessica Turner, Ratliff Candy Company, and Bill and the Belles! If you missed out on the festivities, here’s a quick recap from the second annual Farm and Fun Time Christmas Ball.

With the crowd all nestled and cozy in their seats and as visions of sugar plums danced in their…pleats (?), Bill and the Belles joyously kicked things off. Throughout the show, Bill and the Belles played all holiday music, mixing it up with some new Christmas originals and classics including an old-timey rendition of “Silver Bells” and the classic “White Christmas” – the latter with the crowd fully in the spirit and singing along.

Bill and the Belles on stage with full audience
What’s The Farm and Fun Time Christmas Ball without Christmas balls to make Bill and the Belles’ holiday music even more festive? © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Museum Director Dr. Jessica Turner was the guest for our “Heirloom Recipe” segment and surprised the crowd with a bag of “treat” hidden beneath every seat. She explained how “treat” played an important role in community churches across the south during the holidays when folks often handed out bags of sweets and treats, like tangerines, oranges, apples, chocolates, and candy canes. Jessica joked that the crinkle from the brown paper bags could be heard throughout the service coming from the excited hands of children (and adults!) searching for goodies at the bottom of the bag. Following the storytelling segment, Bill and the Belles sang a jingle inspired by the story, a tune titled “Can I Get a Witness, This Christmas?” highlighting charity and all the things that make the holidays special.

Dr. Jessica Turner at the microphone talking about "treat"
Dr. Jessica Turner’s story of her grandma making the Christmas “treat” bags at her church brought back a lot of happy memories for the Farm and Fun Time audience. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

The first musical guest of the evening was Jill Andrews, founding member of the everybodyfields. Jill has long had a devoted audience and fan base here in Bristol, and the crowd made it very apparent that they were glad to see her as she played several songs from her new solo project as well as a few from her time spent in the everybodyfields.

Jill Andrews holding guitar and singing at microphone
Jill Andrews brought a lot of heart to her performance during The Farm and Fun Time Christmas Ball. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

This month’s “ASD Farm Report” was a little different than usual. Instead of visiting a local family farm, we decided to visit a local family candy factory! Many folks might not know this, but Bristol has had a long legacy and tradition of candy makers. This month we visited Ken Ratliff of Ratliff Candy Company, a candy cane company specializing in homemade candy cane baskets, cups, and more from their factory in Historic Downtown Bristol. Ratliff Candy has been family owned since 1952, and over the years they have built an international following for their delectable and functional treats.

Our next featured musical guests – The Secret Sisters – made this month’s show one for the ages. From the rich musical landscape of Muscle Shoals Alabama, Lydia and Laura Rodgers come from a long lineage of great country musicians, starting from the roots of singing in the church to full-fledged recording careers, including the good news just a few days before our show that they have been nominated for Grammy Folk Album of the Year with their latest release You Don’t Own Me Anymore. They brought down the house with their phenomenal harmonies, including a gorgeous rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

The Secret Sisters, one playing guitar and singing, the other singing, on stage.
Not only did the Secret Sisters share their wonderful music with the Farm and Fun Time audience, but they also shared stories about love lost and found – filled with humor! © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

All in all, this show was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. If you’ve got the holiday blues because you missed The Farm and Fun Time Christmas Ball, check out our live video broadcast made possible by Eastman Credit Union.

And don’t forget to get tickets to the upcoming shows in January and February, both of which are getting close to selling out – so buy your tickets while they last!


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