Knox the Fox and friends go to Barter Theatre

Susan EspirituOur Town Adventure Seekers

Knox the Fox tagged along with a Fountain City foursome to the Barter Theatre to see Grandma Gatewood Took a Walk, the true story of a grandmother who became the first woman to solo-hike the Appalachian Trail. Three of the four, known as the Turtle Hikers, regularly hike on the Appalachian Trail so this play was a natural intrigue.

Mary Lucy Bivins is Grandma Gatewood, at Barter Theatre through June 9.

Turtle Hikers Kay Pilkay, Cindy Warmack, and Gail Giffin, along with Pat Wyrick, spent a day trip to Barter Theatre which opened in 1933 with an admission price of 35 cents or an equivalent amount of produce. At the time, four out of five attendees did pay with produce, dairy products or livestock, filling all the theater’s seats.

 The Barter Theatre website claims the company cleared “$4.35 in cash, two barrels of jelly, and a collective weight gain of over 300 pounds after the first season.” Currently, at least one performance a year celebrates Barter’s history by accepting donations for Feeding America Southwest Virginia.

Several famous people got their start at Barter Theatre among them Ned Beatty, Ernest Borgnine, and Knoxville’s Patricia Neal.

On this day, Grandma Gatewood Took a Walk entertained the group. A true story about the first woman to solo hike the 2000-mile Appalachian Trail. It was 1955 and she was 67 years old. After 32 years of spousal abuse and raising 11 children, she decided to run away from home. She read about the trail in a National Geographic Magazine in a doctor’s office and told her children she was going to take a walk. The play has been extended a week and will run through June 9.

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