Learn more about the rich cultural opportunities available in Rutherford County, TN.
Rutherford County has worked hard to blend a big city vibe with its small town community feeling. The success of those efforts is evidenced by its lively, diverse cultural scene that rivals that of a major city.
Residents have ample opportunities to enjoy live performances, explore galleries filled with local artists’ creations and take part in a variety of art- and music-focused events. As a result, the county has an artsy, creative vibe that further enhances its strong appeal.
Arts, Culture and Entertainment
Rutherford County residents have easy access to top-notch performing arts destinations, such as the Springhouse Theatre Co., a community theater in Smyrna. Established in 2004, the theater company puts on family-friendly shows throughout the year and hosts drama camps during the summer for students in elementary, middle and high school.
Because part of Springhouse Theatre Co.’s mission is to provide a place where people of all ages can learn about theatrical arts, auditions are open to the public, and there are ongoing opportunities to get involved behind the scenes.
“While we do have a core group of people involved in our productions, we also strive to include new talent both on stage and back stage in essentially every production,” says Ronnie Meek, Springhouse Theatre Co.’s executive producer. “Live theater is a community process, even at the professional level, and part of the beauty and joy of doing live theater is meeting and working with new people. Open auditions bring freshness and expand our horizons.”
The Washington Theatre at Patterson Park Community Center in Murfreesboro is another favorite destination for live performances. Operated by the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department, the 305-seat venue hosts plays, musicals, concerts, dance recitals, talent shows and other events.
The presence of Middle Tennessee State University, a 22,000-student campus in Murfreesboro, brings a wealth of cultural offerings, including the 1,000-seat Tucker Theatre that accommodates major music, dance, theatrical and television productions. In addition, MTSU is home to the Deborah K. Anderson Studio Theatre, a flexible black box space that primarily hosts student-produced performances.
The Center for the Arts in Murfreesboro entertains Rutherford County audiences, too, putting on 15 self-produced plays and musicals each year. Housed in an Italianate structure built in 1909 by the U.S. Department of Treasury, the venue also displays local artists’ creations in a gallery that’s free and open to the public. Its Center Stage Academy serves more than 400 children annually with after-school classes and summer camps.
“Rutherford County is a great place to do business, to raise a family, to get an education and to live, and success in these areas breeds success in the arts,” says Patience Long, executive director of the Center for the Arts. “As the county grows, we’ll offer more and more arts opportunities that will continue to excel.”
Signature Festivals and Special Events
Murfreesboro also hosts events like Main Street JazzFest, where attendees can enjoy contemporary live jazz music, and the Friday Night Live concert series that is held each summer on the downtown square.
Another favorite annual event is the Greenway Art Festival, which takes place in Murfreesboro’s Old Fort Park and includes booths of original artwork along with live music, food vendors and kids’ art activities.
Drawing more than 30,000 attendees each year, the Uncle Dave Macon Days Music and Arts Festival is one of Rutherford County’s signature events. The popular festival, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2017, takes place in Murfreesboro’s Cannonsburgh Village the second full weekend of July and is aimed at preserving and promoting old-time music, or early forms of country music that came about in the 1920s and ’30s.
Named in honor of Dave Macon – known as the grandfather of country music – the event features an impressive lineup of bluegrass artists, including past performers such as The Grascals, Doyle Lawson and The Church Sisters, as well as arts and crafts vendors and music and dance competitions.
“For the bluegrass community in the Middle Tennessee area, the Uncle Dave Macon Days Music and Arts Festival is one of their biggest events,” says Ben Wilson, the festival’s executive director. “There’s really not anything in the region quite like it.”