Rosman Celebrates its Heritage

 “People love this town.” was the statement videographer Henry Felt made to Transylvania Heritage Museum Director Rebecca Suddeth after concluding a day of oral interviews during the Rosman Heritage Day on October 5th. Suddeth had asked Mr. Felt what he had learned about the town of Rosman after interviewing seven community members. His first response to the question was this simple observation. This did not surprise Suddeth. The people's love for their town, and the town's love for its people is what the Rosman Heritage Day is all about. The Town of Rosman puts on the festival, but a committee, co-chaired by Martha Mathis and Sharon Hogsed, plans the event. Even though there are lots of fun activities, booths and competitions, the true focus of the festival is to honor the history and heritage of the small town.

 “A Rosman Festival is like a big family reunion,” commented one community member, enjoying the shade of a tent. “There are lots of reminiscing, getting reacquainted with old friends, good music and good food.” The best thing about this reunion, however, is that everyone is invited to attend. Community members are glad to have visitors to the small town. Only by experiencing the town firsthand can people begin to understand what makes it so special.

The centerpiece of the day is the recognition of the community's senior citizens aged eighty and older. “These people have made our community what it is—they are our living heritage.” Says organizer Martha Mathis. “We want to show the town's appreciation for each one of them.” Community members from the area, not just the town, receive an invitation from Brian Shelton, the Mayor of Rosman, inviting them to be honored. Every person is introduced and then receives a certificate of appreciation, again signed by the Mayor, and a gift. An equally moving part of this ceremony is the reading of the names of all community members who have passed since the last years festival.

The Town Hall is filled with displays of artifacts from the town's history. It also showcases family history boards that hold photos and stories of Rosman families both past and present. The community is invited to create a board and display it during the festival. It is often a time when family members find new connections to others, and sometimes find a never before seen photo of a family member. Also inside the Town Hall Meeting Room is a table set up as a memorial to the community members the town had lost the previous year.

The festival ends with a tribute to all the veterans from the Community. A special memorial is set up, with white crosses bearing the names of all the community's servicemen and women who have passed away. This is another way the festival honors its community-by acknowledging those who have fought for the nation's freedom.

The Transylvania Heritage Museum was allowed to use the Town Hall Clerk's Office to conduct oral interviews during the day. Pat Childress, President of the Museum's Board of Directors conducted the interviews from 10 am until after 3 pm. Henry Felt did the recording.

“The people we interviewed were very straight forward.” Henry Felt commented. “They were realistic about the town's health, how industries that once formed the backbone of a families paycheck had moved on. I didn't hear anger in this; it was a fact. Most of all, it was the loyalty and sense of familiarity that people had for one another that impressed me most about this small town.”

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