By Richard Rourk
An eventful summer will continue for the Unicoi County Heritage Museum and Clinchfield Railroad Museum.
According to Curator Martha Erwin, a unique fundraiser called the “July Jubilee Fundraiser” is scheduled for Saturday, July 27. Sponsored by Farm Bureau, the event will be a day of food and live music.
“It’s going to be a good time,” Erwin said.
Erwin also said that food will be provided by Whistle Stop Deli of Unicoi. The music will be provided by Greenville alderman and former vice mayor Keith Paxton. Paxton is up for reelection and has served on the Greenville BMA since 2009.
“I am aldermen first ward Greeneville and I serve on many boards,” Paxton said. “I currently serve on the Historic Zoning, EMS, and many other boards.”
Paxton, was an interim music leader for a local church when he met Erwin and her family. “Martha and others are the heart and soul of the two museums and she is very active in tourism and cares so much for Unicoi County and Clinchfield Railroad history,” Paxton said.
According to Paxton, the museums needed help with emergency funding, A/C, and other major buildings items that weren’t covered by any funds.
“I was asked if I could sing at the fundraiser and gave a huge yes,” Paxton said. “We began the singing and a meal fundraiser event at the museums and achieved a huge turnout of contributions.”
Paxton performed at the 2015 season opening of the Clinchfield Railroad and Unicoi County Heritage Museums.
Paxton has kept up with friends in Unicoi County since then.
“When Martha asked me to sing at the July Jubilee, I once again gave a huge yes; it truly is an honor,” Paxton said.
Paxton performs with his brother, Charles, and Neil Holt.
“We are the sons of a family of nine children,” Paxton said. “Our father (the late Sonny Lee Paxton) sang and witnessed weekly in homes and churches for years. He, and our mom Charlotte Paxton, were the owners of The Little Top Drive Thru on Main Street in Greeneville.” According to Paxton, besides witnessing, his family has been selling food for 100 years, and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the families trademarked “Chipburger.”
According to Paxton, he and Charles have sung in choirs and groups since birth. Holt was an original member of “One Accord.” Paxton said that the trio has performed at churches, nursing homes, jails and just about any other event.
Paxton and his bandmates are excited to perform in Unicoi County again.
“We are so excited to visit the city of Erwin and spend time at the museums and to fellowship with all the great folks there,” Paxton said. “Unicoi County is so blessed to have the Unicoi County Heritage and Clinchfield Railroad Museums and such events like the Apple Festival.”
According to Paxton, his band, “The Brothers Plus One,” are thankful to be a part of the July Jubilee Fundraiser.
“We want to thank Martha Erwin and all the ones working to bring this event together,” Paxton said. “We want to give a special mention to all the ones involved with the history of Unicoi County who recently passed.”
Paxton also said that anyone planning to attend the July Jubilee Fundraiser, is in for a good time.
“Our music is lots of times church songs with a message,” Paxton said. “This event we are asked to bring out railroad songs and even a few political songs such as, ‘The Long Black Train,’ ‘’You Are My Sunshine,’ along with a mix of some gospel and country music and if the crowd likes a song we might even play it again.”
The July Jubilee Fundraiser will take place Saturday, July 27, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Erwin Town Hall. Tickets are $10 dollars per person and can be bought at the Unicoi County Heritage Museum during normal business hours. The museums’ normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 1-5 p.m.
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The Clinchfield Railroad Museum recent added a large elephant statue named “Mary” to the collection. The statue is roughly 5 feet tall and around 4 feet long and is on display to visitors.