Music, food fill the auditorium monthly at Spencer-Penn

Jon Perry (left) orders a hot dog from the volunteers in the Spencer-Penn Centre kitchen recently. In the center is Marla Perry and at right is Sadye Perry, of the Bassett High School Beta Club, who is completing volunteer hours at the center.
By Mary Jordan

Music Night at Spencer Penn Centre began on the second Friday night in February 2006.

Having obtained the deed to the property in November 2004, the organization needed to raise money for renovations of the old school. It also needed to get the word out about the new life of the school, now called the Centre, and hoped that by getting people in the building, perhaps they would come back for other events and possibly rent a space. That was a lot to ask of a monthly night of bluegrass music.

At the time, there was only one venue having bluegrass music that we knew of and that was the Patrick County Music Association. Denny Alley of that association spoke with us about how it handled music nights with as many as five bands. That was out of the question for Spencer Penn because we had to beat the bushes for our first several months to get bands to come. But the bands did come and so did the people. We have had great success since, of which we are very appreciative. Admission is $4 per person.

Along with good bands, one aspect of music night that helps bring in the crowds is the concessions. Again, our volunteers stepped up to help. In the beginning, Virginia Rodgers got our routine going. With her knowledge of food and catering, she guided us into serving hot dogs, barbecue, pinto beans and cornbread, homemade chicken salad sandwiches and then homemade desserts.

Volunteers have come and gone due to health issues or moving away but one volunteer has been with us making hot dogs since 2006. Ann Perry has been crowned the “HOT DOG QUEEN” and actually has had a steamer dedicated to her. We haven’t kept count of the number of dogs that she has assembled but it has to be at least a million.

Hot dogs are assembled per instructions from Bill Jeff Nelson, a volunteer who owned a restaurant, with the hot dog chili always put on last. Linda Barnes prepares the chicken salad, and the barbecue is purchased. Jerry Hylton prepares chicken and dumplings in the winter. Prepared food is cooked in the Spencer Penn kitchen, which has been approved by the State Health Department.

Other volunteers presently helping in the kitchen are Nelda Purcell, who also is one of the 2006 originals; Nancy Taylor, Jeannie Knott, Johnnie Mounts, Lynn Wolf, Robin Root, Barnes, Rodgers, and of course the office staff is always there. We also welcome “child labor” — any youngster who needs community service hours.

Our music night family enjoys our homemade desserts prepared by alternating groups: The Red Birds and the Blue Birds. What troopers these ladies have been over the years. The Red Birds are Nelda Purcell, Susan Emmert, Temple Mays, Ramona Cassady, Lynn Wolf, Robin Root and Myra Bourne. The Blue Birds are Ann Perry, Lillian Holland, Rose Hylton, Carol Bondurant, Dean Pigg, Gloria Vipperman, Celie Cassady and Nora Stokes.

Occasionally, others donate desserts as well.

Our guests all agree that these ladies prepare some lip-smacking treats. There are cakes and pies of all types, and one constant is the request for any dessert with coconut.

With the holidays around the corner, some of our volunteers have shared recipes for their favorite treats.

(Mary Jordan is executive director of the Spencer Penn Centre.)


Lynn Wolf holds a cake that will be served up to visitors stopping by the Spencer Penn Centre to enjoy Music Night.

more recommended stories