October 2011
Featured Articles

Little Sandridge is That Kind of Place

 

Below, Peter, Doug, Joe, Carolyn, Katie and Matt Carron are siblings who make up the bluegrass gospel group Broken Strings from the Victoria community in Coffee County. The Carrons came to South Alabama from Washington state with a variety of instruments in tow their mom, Bonnie, had purchased at a pawn shop so they would have something to occupy their minds and encourage their talents when they arrived at their new home.

Tucked Away Off the Beaten Path 

Little Sandridge won’t be found on any map. Even the GPS won’t be able to locate it.

Little Sandridge is that kind of place.

It’s tucked way off the beaten path, inhabited by butterflies, bumblebees and birds, and where darkness comes, first, to the dense cypress woodlands.

   

Kimble Adamson (left) and Dwight Berry believe dreams can come true. God gave them both the vision of a quiet, peaceful place where the spirit of God moves about freely. That place is Little Sandridge near Ariton where groups gather to sing and fellowship with one another.

 

It was the quiet beauty of the place that first attracted Kimbel Adamson. It was the kind of place where "God’s spirit moves freely."

Adamson said God showed him the place and then God put it on his heart to do something with it. But not for himself — for others.

Adamson purchased 13 acres of land not much more than a stone’s throw off Highway 123 South about 19 miles south of Troy. The oft-dusty pig trail to Little Sandridge winds a crooked path to a clearing that is the social center of Little Sandridge.

The focal point of Little Sandridge is a log cabin Adamson and a host of friends raised with strong backs, sweat and the know-how country boys just naturally acquire.

"The logs came off my son’s place around Tennille," Adamson said. "I had a lot of help putting the cabin up. We all put our heads together and we worked it out. We notched the logs just like the pioneers did. We’ve all been around farm work all of our lives. We know how to do things or, if we don’t, we’ll figure it out."

 

A log cabin is the centerpiece and focal point at Little Sandridge music park located on the Pea River near Ariton in Dale County.

They "figured out" how to build a log cabin from scratch, chink it against the elements and add a front porch for sitting, singing and spinning yarns.

Adamson decorated the cabin with farm implements that are conversation starters.

"What’s this thing? And that?"

Before long all of those in earshot were entering in the conversation.

For the young and the young-at-heart, Adamson hung a mule slip pan from a high, stout limb of an old oak tree and made a swing is as educational as it is fun.

"This old slip pan came before tractors," Adamson said. "It was used behind a mule to fix terraces, move dirt, and build roads and ponds."

 
 

From top, the Seminoles from Seminole were newcomers to Little Sandridge, but their popularity will bring them back again. Shelby and Emmie of The Bosheers bluegrass gospel group from Tennessee found their way to the banks of the Pea River and a log cabin Kimble Adamson, Dwight Berry and friends built from pine logs cut from local woodlands. The Benton Brothers slipped away from the crowd to play just for themselves. The Old Southern Gospel, the McWaters family from the Brundidge area, is one of the most sought after Southern gospel groups in Southeast Alabama. They sing at churches and “singings” almost every weekend.

 

An old, claw-foot bathtub is permanent décor at Sandridge and doubles as a playpen for little ones and a place to sit and rest for older ones.

Little Sandridge isn’t a museum by design, but it is by "happen-so." Adamson just happens to be interested in "oldtiques" and, having them around, spurs the interest of others who come down the dusty pig trail to the place called Little Sandridge.

The hub of Little Sandridge includes a large indoor/outdoor facility just right for singings and such or indoor camping.

And there are lots of both at Little Sandridge, year round.

"I had a dream about this place," Adamson said. "The Lord showed it to me and He’s in charge of all things. I didn’t know at the time what I was to do with it but I prayed about it and the Lord showed me. He put it on my heart to open it up to churches and youth groups so they could come out here and enjoy the outdoors."

And Little Sandridge is a place where the community comes together for gatherings of different kinds and everyone is invited and everyone is welcome.

"We have five or six big events out here every year," Adamson said. "We have an Easter egg hunt for the kids every year and a couple of hog cookings and singing events. And each singing event is bigger than the last."

 
 

Left, an old mule slip pan makes an inviting swing for all ages. During a stage break, Matt Carron gave the swing a try. Right, little Bonnie Norton shared a special moment with Hannah Bosheer who was more than willing to help the youngster braid her doll’s hair. Below, the hot, humid August Saturday didn’t keep bluegrass gospel fans away. They just whipped out the funeral home fans and enjoyed the music.

 

Adamson and his longtime friend, Dwight Berry, hosted the Little Sandridge Bluegrass Gospel Jamboree in August featuring local bands — the Benton Brothers and Company, the Monticello Bluegrass Band, Old Southern Gospel and Broken Strings – and area bands — The Seminoles from Seminole and The Bosheers from Tennessee.

For the Jamboree, Berry built a stage under the canopy of trees and set up chairs across the path and created an outdoor performance area rivaling any anywhere. Then he cooked a washtub of the best barbecue in the land and invited everyone to come, bring a covered dish and spend the day enjoying the bluegrass. It was all offered free of charge.

Berry and those who attended the Little Sandridge Bluegrass Festival would probably admit there’s little-to-no chance it will ever be featured as one of Alabama’s Top Ten events or as a destination for bus tours. But, for those who enjoy the simple things of life and find comfort and joy in friendship, and meaning and inspiration in the music that is bluegrass gospel, there’s no better place to be than on the banks of the Pea River at a place called Little Sandridge – a place where God’s spirit moves freely among the cypress knees and whispers on the breeze.

For information about events at Little Sandridge, call (334) 670-8725, (334) 735-3896 or (334) 762-2236.

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.