This & That

Story published: 02-12-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

The Bean Festival was an anticipated time-honored Mountain City tradition

By Jack Swift

As I have mentioned before in this column, coming to town was an exciting time for me when I was a youngster. At that time Mountain City was to me what a large city is now. The stores and businesses that were popular then always drew me inside them. A western movie, a visit to one of the three drug stores for an ice cream cone and meeting with friends and family were all things to do while in town.

I believe at one time there were three drug stores in Mountain City. There were the Courtesy Drug Store on the right of Main Street looking from the center of town and the Peoples Drug Store on the corner of Main Street and Church Street. At one time there was also a Drug Store on South Church Street.

Some of the most memorable times for me were when special events were in town. Always a special time was the Johnson County Bean Festival. There was always a carnival in town during the bean festival. There was a horse show and other attractions. During the Bean Festival the town was flooded with people. Farm folks came to Mountain City as well as a host of visitors who came from surrounding or distant areas to take in the festivities of that event. After all, Johnson County was once called the Green Bean Capital of the World. There was always a big parade through town with the local high school band as well as several visiting bands.

Another one of my favorite events took place at the old high school building that now houses beautiful Heritage Hall. Most folks called it the “County Singing.” There was I think a more formal name for it. The Johnson County High School Auditorium was the venue for the “Singing.” Quartets, trios, duets and groups offered their renditions of hymns and spiritual songs. The auditorium was so crowded that speakers were placed outside so people could at least hear the music even if they couldn’t see it.

Special events took place when famous people came to Mountain City. I saw Roy Acuff in person at the Johnson County Courthouse when he ran for governor of Tennessee in 1948. An interesting fact about Acuff is that he was well know by Johnson County’s own Clarence “Tom” Ashley as they performed together in a medicine show at one time. Tom of course made many recordings and personal appearances during his day. Acuff went on to the Grand Ole Opry and many personal appearances. He even appeared in some films during his long career in music.

Tom Mix, famous western movie star made his way to Mountain City during the ‘40s or ‘50s. I read once that Mix was a tough guy who insisted on performing his own stunts in the movies. Many stars had stunt men to do the dangerous stuff. Mix sustained many injuries during his career. He remained popular on radio and in comic books for many years after his death in an automobile accident in 1940.

The days that Mix and Acuff appeared in Mountain City saw many folks come into town to enjoy the shows.