Beginning in 2011, the North Carolina Folklife Institute partnered with Central Park NC to document the traditions of the Uwharries region of south-central North Carolina, primarily Montgomery, Stanly, Anson, and southern Davidson Counties. The project was inaugurated with a community meeting on July 21, 2011, which Central Park NC hosted at STARworks in Star, Montgomery County. Marla Coulthard, Assistant Director of Central Park NC, led the meeting with Folklife Institute participants Board President Kirsten Mullen and folklorist Sarah Bryan. In attendance were Mayor Earl Poplin of Mount Gilead, local historian Rosemary Huntley, Patricia Webb, Director of Montgomery County Tourism, and several other representatives of cultural organizations and municipal entities in the area.
Over a meal of hoppin’ john that Marla prepared from her mother’s recipe cantaloupe from Parsons Farm in Candor, Montgomery County, and bread from the Panagia Prousiotissa Greek Orthodox Monastery in Troy, Montgomery County, the group discussed goals for the documentation project. In a lively conversation, the local participants shared impressions and reminiscences about the area’s heritage, and made recommendations about the traditions and tradition-bearers they felt most represented the area’s heritage.