National Hillbilly Day, celebrated on July 4, is a day that recognizes hillbilly culture and celebrates the traditions and lifestyles of those that reside in rural areas of the Southern United States. Hillbillies have a reputation for living a very different life than those who live in urban and suburban areas.
History of National Hillbilly Day
The term ‘hillbilly’ was often used to refer to the community who lived in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and West Virginia. The history of the hillbillies is a long and colorful one.
Hillbillies are often described as simple country folk who live in rural, remote areas of the south and are often out of touch with modern society. Hillbillies are also known for their love of moonshine, a homemade liquor so named because it was originally illegal and the only way to avoid getting caught was to make it at nighttime. The stereotypical Hillbilly also has a kinship with nature and animals.
National Hillbilly Day is celebrated on July 4th and was conceptualized by the Ozark Mountain Jubilee, a radio program that helped popularize the term hillbilly in the 1930s. The show was later turned into a television program that ran from 1955 on A.B.C. In 1971, National Hillbilly Day was initiated at a festival in Bentonville, Arkansas, to raise money for the city’s first library.
These days when you think of hillbillies, you probably imagine a different kind of person because the common perception of them includes drug use, domestic abuse, and resentment for outsiders. In reality, however, most ‘hillbillies’ are a kind, compassionate people.
National Hillbilly Day offers a chance for people to honor the spirit, heritage, and culture of Appalachia and its people. It’s a time to show appreciation for bluegrass music, pigskin workmanship, and catfish catching prowess that is part of their rich tradition.
National Hillbilly Day timeline
The original idea comes from the Ozark Mountain Jubilee, a radio program that helped popularize the term ‘hillbilly’ in the 1930s.
The show is later adapted to television and runs from 1955 on A.B.C.
National Hillbilly Day begins at a festival in Bentonville, Arkansas, to raise money for the city's first library.
The Ron Howard film about a student returning to his Appalachian roots is released.
National Hillbilly Day FAQs
What is the name of hillbilly music?
The term country and western music (later shortened to country music) were adopted by the recording industry in 1949 to replace the derogatory label hillbilly music.
How did bluegrass get its name?
Bluegrass music came out of the rural south after World War II, but its roots date to the 1930s. The genre was named after Bill Monroe’s band, The Blue Grass Boys, who began performing in the 1940s. Bluegrass songs were about issues important to everyday people.
What’s the difference between country and bluegrass?
Bluegrass is a sub-genre of Country Music with characteristics that differentiate it from mainstream Country: The instrumentation is pure ‘string band’ based: Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Fiddle, and Upright Bass. There is more emphasis on an ‘acoustic’ sound. The music is freer, and the structures are more complex.
National Hillbilly Day Activities
Read books or visit museums dedicated to hillbilly culture. Learning about their history will give you an understanding enough not to stereotype them.
Take a trip
You can also travel to hillbilly territories, such as Appalachia or West Virginia. On meeting them, you’ll have the opportunity to ask them questions about their culture and lifestyle. You may also want to attend local festivals or other events honoring hillbilly traditions.
Dress up in your best hillbilly attire
Because they spend most of their time outdoors, working the land, they’re often depicted in raggedy clothes and overalls. Get together with some friends, take a road trip into the country and listen to some country music for an all-around experience.
5 Facts About Appalachia You Didn't Know
Not just another word for 'redneck’
The term ‘hillbilly’ comes from the Scottish-Irish immigrants who settled the Appalachian Mountains in the 18th Century.
One of the oldest mountain ranges
The Appalachian mountains are so old that they’re part of a group called ‘ancient mountains,’ as are the Alps and the Andes.
It's home to 25 million people
Spanning 13 states, Appalachia is home to around 25 million people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Largest coal deposits in North America
Appalachia has been a major coal-producing region since the 1800s, creating jobs for generations of hard-working Americans.
It's not hillbilly country
Many people associate Appalachia with hillbillies and moonshine, but that image is largely a myth.
Why We Love National Hillbilly Day
It gives us an appreciation for people
The day allows us to eliminate stereotypes and have a more open mind about individuals from different circumstances. Open your mind and get to know more about the history of these individuals.
It honors people
The term ‘hillbilly’ is often used as an insult. We celebrate National Hillbilly Day as a reminder to accept that people have different backgrounds and deserve to be part of America’s diverse culture.
It pays tribute
By celebrating National Hillbilly Day, we pay tribute to their work ethic, ingenuity, and love of family that most of us would do well to emulate. There is no room for judgment on this day or for making comparisons.
National Hillbilly Day dates