Webster's Dictionary defines culture as -- 1:cultivation; 2: refinement of intellectual and artistic taste; 3: particular form or stage of civilization.
Recently I was reminded of how unique the culture in Cherokee is.
While living our daily lives, stopping to think about culture is not always on the top of the list, yet it binds us together like nothing else.
What got me thinking about this subject was that I recently spent a evening at the Gathering Place where singer/songwriter Shawn Mayer was rehearsing with Jimmy Davis and the boys for last Friday's Spencer show and some future events.
I was there taking photos of the rehearsal but during the course of the evening it became quite clear how lucky I was to be watching these wonderful musicians practice their craft. This experience snowballed into realizing how much culture this little old valley town offers.
The Cherokee Community Theater had recently completed a two-weekend run of the "Odd Couple." That was their most recently play. Each year there is at least three productions that showcase the local talent.
Which leads me to the Cherokee Symphony. They too, hold annual quarterly performances. The Symphony not just highlights the talents of classical, trained musicians, but also spotlights many of the area talented student musicians as well. Oh, did I mention that the symphony and the Community Theater have been around for over 50 years now?
Other examples of Cherokee's culture can be found at the Sanford Museum, the Cherokee Depot, Cherokee Library, the Chamber PRCA Rodeo, Cherokee County Fair and the Marcus Fair, The Jazz and Blues Festival, any of the local churches, county parks, Cherokee Tone Circle and of course, the schools and their many activities just to name a few.
It a dangerous game for me to trying to list all of the groups, events and individuals who volunteer their time and talents to bring culture to this community, because I have no doubt that I would unintentionally leave somebody off the list.
Another fine example is the sporting culture in Cherokee that has been a part in the community for as long as anyone can remember. Folks around here are just as proud of sports around here as they are of the children, which at one time or another many of us had been or in fact our children and grandchildren will be/or are involved in.
Some of my fondest memories of high school revolves around my own sporting career, in spite that the fact my team only won once. Last year I had a chance to photograph a baseball game and while watching those boys warm up before the game was like watching any other masters practicing their craft. I had to keep reminding myself that they were high schoolers. They were that good. What also impresses me at any of the towns' sporting events is how a community comes and gathers together like on old barn raising. Much like any other cultural event there are old friends talking, sharing and coming together to join in a moment in time.
But not everyone chooses to be part of sports. That is why I can't stress enough how important the school's art, music, speech, debate and drama programs are. Wayne Morris said it best the other night while he and I had a quick talk. He described how some of the actors who recently were in the "Odd Couple" were in their sixties and still performing, Morris then said, "How many 60 year olds are still playing football?"
It wasn't a slam against sports but it was a statement that drives home the point of long after a sports career is over, a career in the arts stays with a person for the rest of their life, and he is so right.
Cherokee culture. Salute!