"Keep Sheriff Tommy J. Jones"

"Keep Sheriff Tommy J. Jones"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coker Creek Goldfest move marks the End of an Era

Update 2018: Sanford Gray's widow (Esther Gray), and daughter, (Marylu Atchley) almost sold the Coker Creek Village Property to a buyer from East, TN. -- The real estate deal that had been in the works for months did not go through, the buyer backed out of the deal. 

There was a 'falling out' with the Coker Creek Goldfest organizers back in 2012, also known as the Autumn Goldfest--since then, the historic 'Goldfest' (which was used to fund worthy causes), has been held nearby, in a much less desirable location: overlooking propane tanks and metal storage units. 
The change took place soon after Frank Murphy Jr., died; Murphy and Sanford Gray were the original organizers of the event. On the Coker Creek Village website, there's no mention that the Goldfest organizers were 'booted out' in 2012...

Update 2012: The autumn event of the historic 'Coker Creek Gold Festival' will take place at a new location; on the grounds of the Coker Creek Elementary School on the 13th and 14th of October. The Ruritan Club building (next to the school) will also be used for the event.

It was rumored as far back as 6 weeks ago that a major 'brouhaha' had been brewing between the movers and shakers that like to think they control most of the major happenings on Coker Creek Mountain.

The Gold Fest's founders (Frank Murphy Jr. and Sanford Gray) have passed on (R.I.P.).

You may hear more than one version as to why the event relocated: the most likely scenario is that the heirs of the Coker Creek Village property did not wish to continue to have the event take place on their property.

Another version claims the reason for moving the event to the Coker Creek Elementary School was a "mutual decision."... However, an insider who did not wish to be identified provided the following details:

  • The Ruritan president was given the option of having the event at the usual Coker Creek Village location this year, but he was advised it would be the last time--they would have to find another location.
  • Negotiations broke down and the Ruritaners decided to move the event this year--without having long range plans--it appears it was a case of 'if they dont' want us, we'll move now.' " No way to appease Mr. Pease..."
  • The Ruritaners contend that a document signed by Sanford Grey bequeathed the use of the Coker Creek Village property in perpetuity for the yearly 2 day Goldfest event, but they did not wish to pursue the matter in court. It is unclear even if such a document exists, how enforceable it would be in a legal stand-off.                                                                                                                                            

Murder victim and Coker Creek resident Franny Graham was a regular at the Ruritan Club gatherings. Some Ruritan members are also linked to the Coker Creek Welcome Center.

Had the Ruritaners accepted the offer to hold the event at the usual Coker Creek Village location this year, it would have given them ample time to come up with more than just one option for long term planning and future use.

The 94 plus acres that makes up the main property of Coker Creek Village is likely the most valuable parcel of land in Coker Creek. (Location, location, location.)

The Murphy Clan (who at one time owned the Coker Creek Village property) has nothing that compares...even with the thousands of acres they still own in Coker Creek.
The End of an Era in the Goldfest location is a significant event...it means that the Murphy Clan and their 'hangers on' were not the arbiters of a major decision.