Elizabethton’s past and present honored at ‘Old Soul New Stories’ gala event and film debut

Published 12:33 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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By Lynn J. Richardson

Main Street Elizabethton pulled out all the stops for the debut of their new feature film, “Old Soul New Stories” which played to a packed house at the historic Bonnie Kate Theater on Friday night.

It felt much like a night at the Academy Awards as guests at the gala event walked the red carpet, enjoyed refreshments and a champagne toast, and then viewed the documentary which celebrated both the history and future of downtown Elizabethton through storytelling.

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Several local residents were featured in the film, telling their stories of their connection to downtown Elizabethton including several individuals from Covered Bridge Days, Kelsey Frazier Hodge, Joe Alexander, Myles Cook, Vera Meredith Peters, Bobbye Carothers, Kent Edens, and last, but not least, 103-year-old Virginia Laws, who received a standing ovation at the film’s conclusion, as well as a kiss from master of ceremonies Josh Smith.

“No doubt about it – the star of the show was Dr. Virginia Laws who, at the age of 103, shared her recollections of life in early 20th century downtown Elizabethton with clarity and eloquence,” Smith said. “Seeing her zoom up the stairs after the documentary showing to bask in the standing ovation of her adoring friends and neighbors was the apex of an amazing evening and a memory I’ll never forget.”

He congratulated Main Street Elizabethton for “capturing the essence of our wonderful downtown.”

“For generations to come, people will be able to hear and see a first-hand account of life in Elizabethton from people who’ve lived it over the span of more than a century,” he added. “Making a documentary is no small task – I know this from experience. Through touching interviews and thrilling archive photos, the documentary paints a picture that’s honest and accurate, a picture that reminds us how we’re so blessed to live in Elizabethton.”

Maypop Media provided full production for the film which was introduced by Frankie Bailey, President of Main Street Elizabethton’s board of directors, and Kent Edens, Vice President of the Bonnie Kate Restoration Board. At the conclusion of the evening, the two presented Main Street Director Courtney Bean with an “academy award” for Best Film about Elizabethton.

Afterwards, Edens reflected on how the film brings the past and the future together.

“The people who built Elizabethton at the beginning of the 20th century were visionaries,” he said. “They had no past to look back upon; they only saw in front of them. Because of them, today we have a wealth of history to use as a foundation going forward.

“The film focuses on individuals’ new stories from old souls,” he added. “New vision can come from the past and this film celebrates that mindset. As we look to the future, not only can we reference the past, we can reverence the past.”


According to Main Street Director, Courtney Bean, the “Old Soul New Stories” film can be accessed for viewing at https://youtu.be/7m67JKdH-3Y and links to individual photos that were taken at the red carpet photo booth will be available, beginning Friday, March 1, on mainstreetelizabethton.com as well as Main Street Elizabethton’s Facebook and Instagram pages.


Additionally, she said anyone who is interested in getting involved in Main Street Elizabethton initiatives to support downtown is invited to become a Main Street member. Membership is open to residents and businesses (regardless of location). Membership fees are annual and range from $50 for residents to $120 starting price for small businesses. To learn more about membership, go to https://mainstreetelizabethton.com/get-involved/.