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Fiddlers Grove Foundation gains not-for-profit designation

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By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post

Fiddlers Grove Foundation, operators of Fiddlers Grove Historical Village, has received its 501c3 not-for-profit designation from the Internal Revenue Service, making donations to the pioneer town tax deductible.

When ground was first broken for Fiddlers Grove on April 17, 1991, it was operated by the Wilson County Fair Board. Some time later, a board was created specifically for organizing educational events and building preservation. 

In April 2009, some 18 years later after its founding and after a year of paperwork, the Fiddlers Grove Foundation received its 501c3 status.

Fiddlers Grove Historical Village is located on the grounds of the James E. Ward Agricultural Center/Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon. It is the mission of Fiddlers Grove to preserve the history of the citizens of Wilson County by preserving buildings, artifacts, oral and written histories. The Village will engage the public through preservation, interpretation, exhibitions, education, publications and hand on experiences to increase a better understanding of the history of Wilson County, and its way of life.

The village was named by the late Dr. G. Frank Burns, a local historian, educator and publisher. The name was chosen for one of the first settlers, Edward (Neddy) Jacobs, a legendary fiddler who often played his fiddle at his cabin at the Town Spring.

There are 52 buildings at Fiddlers Grove that are either originals that were moved in or reconstructions of old buildings that are indicative of Wilson County’s history. The way that the roads are set up in Fiddlers Grove, visitors can walk through a timeline of Wilson County in its early years through to the introduction of electricity.

Hale Moss, a member of the Fiddlers Grove board, said that the foundation wants to have more year-round educational programs. Lebanon Special School District and Wilson County sSchools, as well as several schools from surrounding counties, take field trips to Fiddlers Grove every year.

“We want to show the young people a glimpse into the past,” Moss said. “We want them to learn about from where it is they came.”

Fiddlers Grove has a part-time director and is open all the time for walking tours and by appointment for guided tours.

There are three groups that meet regularly at Fiddlers Grove: the Fiddlers Grove Blacksmith Organization, which puts on blacksmithing classes on Tuesday nights, the Middle Tennessee Automobile Club and the Fiddlers Grove Woodcarvers Club.

Some Wilson County residents will remember the annual meeting of Native Americans behind Fiddlers Grove, but they no longer meet in Lebanon. Moss said the foundation is working on getting a Native American presence back in Fiddlers Grove.

“The Native Americans have such a rich history and it includes Wilson County,” Moss said. “We would love to have a group of Native Americans teach their history as a part of Fiddlers Grove.”

Some long-term goals of the foundation include an arboretum, which is a plot of land on which many different trees or shrubs are grown for study or display similar to a botanical garden. Moss said they are well on their way to establishing what will be known as the Baddour Parkway Arboretum.

“It will not only be a beautiful place to walk and enjoy nature, but local students can come and learn and do science projects there,” Moss said. “The Wilson County Master Gardeners are helping us out with this and are also very excited about it.”

Another long-term goal is to have a local theater group to put on a show several times a year about the history of Wilson County, focusing on preservation and education.

Donations can be given for specific buildings, educational programs, or general maintenance. Moss said that they recently began putting memorial gift cards in funeral homes and said that a new brochure will be given out about the foundation at this year’s fair. Memorial trees can also be planted in Fiddlers Grove in someone’s honor.

Staff Writer Ben Dudley may be contacted at ben@wilsonpost.com.

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