Step Back in Time Today at Fiddlers Grove

by | May 2024

PRESS THE pause button this summer and spend the day rambling through the historic buildings at Fiddlers Grove Historic Village, nestled in the heart of the Wilson County Fair Grounds. Explore a genuine doctor’s office, complete with medical journals, equipment, and bottles of quirky medicine. Learn about the gristmill’s importance to the community’s survival, tour the once bustling general store, the home of the telephone operator, the cobbler shop, and log cabins that date back to 1798. Snap selfies in front of “Baxter,” the caboose, and enjoy a cool breeze while you sit a spell on the porch of the dogtrot, identical to the ones that sheltered many pioneers across the South. Pack a picnic and soak in the serenity of Fiddlers Grove while enjoying lunch beneath the covered pavilion. 

Last year, visitors from 33 states and nine countries stopped in from April through October. As a staple for schoolchildren in Lebanon since 1991, Fiddlers Grove also hosted over 1,000 students during its Pioneer Days last spring and fall. Now that its Pioneer Day program will coincide with Wilson County Farm Days, over 2,000 second graders are expected to make their pilgrimage to the grounds this year. 

Rhonda Birdwell, Fiddlers Grove coordinator, took the Pioneer Tour in 2018, fell in love with the village, and began work the next day. 

“Fiddlers Grove is a step back in time,” said Birdwell. “It’s a place to preserve the history of the citizens of Wilson County by collecting buildings and artifacts that we then present to people and families to remind them of the pioneer times and local history. On our scheduled Pioneer Day tours, we have a broom artisan that handmakes brooms here in the Grove. Our ‘schoolteacher,’ Ms. Grace, shows children a glimpse of what school was like years ago. Multiple blacksmiths teach kids what it was like to bend metal with fire, and many other stops give our visitors a look into pioneer life.” 

With the season starting in April and ending in October, Fiddlers Grove also hosts a wide variety of family-friendly and affordable activities. Surrounding Fiddlers Grove, the Wilson County Fair Grounds host the largest county fair in our entire state: the Wilson County-Tennessee State Fair, which runs Aug. 15-24. 

“The Wilson County-Tennessee State Fair brings so many people. We hear people walking around the Grove during the fair, talking about how they never knew Fiddlers Grove was even on the grounds of the AG Center. I think Fiddlers Grove is truly a hidden gem. Besides our Pioneer Tours, we have so many events that rotate through the grounds. For example, SpringFest [and] the Slammedenuff Car Show. In October, we have the Ghosts in the Grove, and Redneck Rumble comes twice a year. We also welcome the Music City Mopar Car Show, Smoke on the Shores BBQ Championship, Bark in the Park, Southeastern Truck Nationals, and so many other events!” 

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Fiddlers Grove was recently the proud recipient of a grant awarded by the Kubota Corporation and will host the BeHealthy KIDS Summer Gardening Camp for the first time in June and July. 

“We are really excited to partner with Vine Branch Fellowship to host the BeHealthy KIDS Summer Camp. It will be the first time we have done this, and we are really looking forward to it. This year, we have added a new greenhouse on the grounds thanks to a grant we received from Kubota and can’t wait to get our hands in the dirt.” 

During the early days when Fiddlers Grove was a dream, Carlton and Geneva Thomas combed every back road in Wilson County, searching for abandoned buildings with historical significance to add to the village. Their efforts, combined with countless others, have provided a place to escape the stress of day-to-day life while keeping history alive. 

“The only way future generations will understand and appreciate everything they have is to take a look back at where they came from. Just being able to walk through Fiddlers Grove and see a day in the life of a pioneer and the challenges they faced, and how smart they were, and how they overcame obstacles is so amazing to see. They accomplished everything they needed without any of the technology that we rely on today. Technology has evolved so much that you see the amazement on a group of kids’ faces just by walking in the telephone museum.” GN 

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