NASHVILLE — It was a BYOS event.
Bring Your Own Shovel.
Jerry Robertson did just that, a pretty old one with a rough wooden shaft and dirt from long ago encrusted on the cutting edge. Letters stamped onto the socket indicate it was manufactured in the Indiana town of Brazil.
This shovel once belonged to his father-in-law, Lewis Poore. “I’ve had it most of my life and it’s the only shovel I have,” the 64-year-old Nashville shop owner said. “Any dirt on there is likely from when he used it. I don’t have much use for a shovel.”
Robertson joined dozens of other shovel carriers Tuesday morning at the future site of Brown County’s Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center. The 2,000-seat county-financed music venue will be built over the next year on a portion of the old Snyder Farm property at the east edge of Nashville.
It was a community groundbreaking for a $12.5 million venue that will fill a nearly decade-long gap during which the town has not had a performance space to replace the Little Nashville Opry, which burned in an arson fire in the fall of 2009.
“We lost about 7,000 people coming to town on weekends when the Opry closed, and we’ve never got that back,” said Robertson, who with his wife owns two shops within a block on Van Buren Street in the heart of downtown. “This will bring them back. It will be good for the local economy and for jobs, so our kids and our grandchildren will have opportunities for work and a future here.”