*** Published in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***
ABINGDON, Va. – It's not exactly the most expensive guitar.
Still, it's who signed the side of this instrument that makes it so special, said Sandra Fisher, the director of the Southwest Virginia 4-H Education Center in Abingdon.
"It's the names on it," Fisher added. "There will never, ever again be those 50 names on the same guitar."
Today, you can buy a $5 raffle ticket to take a chance at winning this instrument. Only 5,000 tickets will be sold, and all proceeds will benefit the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center's capital campaign.
How did this guitar gain so many signatures?
"Buchanan County 4-H'ers took this guitar to festivals," Fisher said. "They went to Tennessee. They went to Kentucky. They went to Ralph Stanley's house. They went all over the place."
Stanley, an old-time mountain musician from Dickenson County, Va., is among the most famous celebrities to sign the instrument, along with members of his backing band, the Clinch Mountain Boys.
Others signing the guitar include Doc Watson, Larry Sparks, Dave Evans, Sam Bush, Andy Hall and members of Blue Highway, Dan Tyminski Band, The Grascals, Grasstowne, Dixie Bee Liners, Cherryholmes and The Infamous Stringdusters.
"There's a picture of every single person who signed it," Fisher said. "I think there's one person who got away that they did not get a picture of. But we have a CD that we're giving with the guitar to document signatures, so you have documentation of the signatures that we say they are."
The drawing for the winner of the guitar is being held at the 4-H Center on Oct. 19. The winner does not need to be present to win.
Representatives of the 4-H Center are traveling to display the guitar and sell tickets at the upcoming Rhythm & Roots Reunion, held in downtown Bristol on Sept. 18-20. For more information, call (276) 676-6180.