A Brief History of Contra in Sautee
by Jeanie Daves
The Sautee Community Contra Dance has been held regularly in the historic gym of the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association since March 2002. The dance has its roots in the 1970s.
- 1979: The first dances in Sautee were held in 1979, first on the front porch of Jimmy and Courtney Johnston's home, then at an old country fruit stand across the road. There was a Thanksgiving dance in the historic gym as part of a festival put on by a group of dancers, musicians, artists and storytellers.
- June 16, 1980: This group officially established itself as The Evening Star Folk Society, a non-profit arts organization.
- 1981, dancing in the Historic Gym: The Evening Star Folk Society got approval from the County recreation department to use the historic gym and held a dance in March 1981. Frederick Park called the dance.
- 1981, Sautee Nacoochee Community Association (SNCA): SNCA was officially established as a 501(c)3 in March 1981. Some of the Evening Star Folk Society members were also founding members of SNCA.
- 1986: SNCA membership voted to acquire the property of the Nacoochee School and grounds (including the gym) from White County Board of Education on June 29, 1986. Sporadic community dances were held in the gym until the mid-1990s.
- 1990s: In 1995 and 1996 some local musicians put together a band and held several dances for a season or so: Steve Welsch, Tom Ryan, Lisa Deaton and Jim O'Connor.
- 2002: In March 2002, Peter Bull, a timber frame artist from White County, started the current community contra dance series in the historic gym. He received help from Julianne Wilson of White County and Christin Whittington of Atlanta. In 2003, Jeanie and Walter Daves and other volunteers joined the coordinating group.
- 2007: The Sautee community dance became an official program of SNCA.
- 2016: Evening Star Folk Society Reunion 35th Anniversary, September 24, 2016