Anita, Iowa….. It may be the ONLY museum in America’s upper Midwest devoted to Iowa’s pioneers, settlers and homesteader’s music. It is without a doubt the ONLY museum that contains a Hall of Fame devoted to the music of these same people. According to the curator of this unpretentious undertaking, Bob Everhart, “We’ve been working hard for the past 39 years, accumulating, sorting, filing, displaying, and telling the stories about the musical instruments and the music itself that found its way to Iowa. It’s called the Pioneer Music Museum. It’s an ongoing task, and to have the museum broken into, with thieves making off with Johnny Cash’s harmonicas and Patsy Montana’s guitar is heart breaking to those of us who find their celebrity, their music, and their memories taken away so easily. I guess that’s why we keep working so hard on the building in Anita, Iowa, that has become a focal point of Iowa’s musical history.”
Everhart is a recording artist for the Smithsonian Institution. He and his wife Sheila have developed a program for the Smithsonian called a “Traveling Museum of Music.” In their performance they do the music that was popular during all the wars America has fought. According to Everhart, “We will be doing this musical presentation for a number of Iowa museums this summer. It’s especially attractive, not only to seniors, but to kids who might not know what the music was like so long ago, or what the wars were like on such a personal basis.”
The Everhart’s were honored by American Profile Magazine for their preservation work dealing with Iowa’s old-time music, and their continuing work as museum music curators in Anita, Iowa. They are members of the Iowa Museum Association, and as such, work hard keeping Iowa’s musical heritage alive.
The Pioneer Music Museum has become a focal point for tour groups, and smaller gatherings like the ‘Red Hats.’ According to Everhart, “We’ve had a number of tours already this summer, and expect more. At the same time, we are trying hard to stem some leaks in the old building’s roof, and that has become a challenge to say the least. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit group, very dedicated to Iowa’s musical memories, but we haven’t found that special sponsor or grant donor to help us keep up with Iowa’s very changeable weather, so we keep spot-fixing, hoping for the best.”
To keep the museum financially going, the Everhart’s produce and direct a festival of old-time acoustic music, now in it’s 39th year. “We’ve had to move the festival locations a few times,” Everhart said, “either because of rate increases or non-availability, but we are now in our 6th year at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa, the ice cream capital of the world. The event is seven days long, August 25-31 this year, and has ten stages going from 9am to midnight everyday all seven days, to accommodate the many performers of old-time music that attend. It’s also where we conduct the induction ceremonies of those going into America’s Old Time Music Hall of Fame, which is why we have the Pioneer Music Museum. Some amazingly famous and popular artists come for the ceremonies, this year is no exception with John Carter Cash being inducted on a Tuesday. John is the only child of Johnny and June Carter Cash, and is very busy and productive keeping his own family’s traditional music alive. Also going into the Hall of Fame is LuLu Roman a comedienne from the very popular television show Hee Haw, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Thursday. She is a very popular gospel singer today. Add to that David Davis of the Warrior River Boys, from Alabama, who goes into the Hall of Fame on Monday, and a host of other celebrities awaiting confirmation, and anyone who likes an older style of acoustic music can begin to see why this event has been going for 39 years in Iowa.”
The University of Iowa Mobile Museum “Iowa’s Ancient Agriculturalists” will be at the festival on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and another display at the fairgrounds ‘Round Barn’ will also be open. “It’s all about Iowa’s history,” Everhart said, “and Iowa’s music, from the very first homesteader to today. It’s incredibly entertaining, and for young people it’s incredibly educational. We even have a Tipi Rendezvous Village in an old ghost town that will be hosting an autoharp gathering, a dulcimer do, a fiddler’s jubilee, a poet’s corner, a songwriters circle, a guitar pull, a mandolin pickin’ and even a storytellers sit. We’ve offered free admission to any school that wants to have a ‘field day’ to be with us during our stay in LeMars.”
More information about the ONLY museum in Iowa devoted to Iowa’s pioneer’s music is available at their website at www.ntcma.net or telephoning them at 712-762-4363.
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