Chickie Renfro and her husband, George, have been regular visitors to the Carter Family Fold since 1980. Every Saturday night they make the thirty-five-mile drive from their home in Johnson City, Tennessee, to Hiltons, Virginia, and the Fold. They’re such fans, in fact, that when they lived in Knoxville for a few years, they would make the 250-mile round trip every week, determined never to miss a show. Originally, they came for the music, but now they come as family. They arrive each week hours before the band. Chickie cleans the stage—an important ritual that she takes much pride in—and helps out in the kitchen, while George settles into his regular seat in the auditorium, the back of which reads, “Reserved, George Renfro.” Rita Forrester had the chair labeled to honor George on his ninetieth birthday. When Chickie’s work is all done and the music starts, she puts on her dancing shoes and kicks up her heels to the music of the Mountain South.
Date of interview:
February 21, 2009