Foster Memorial Day

Foster (Stephen) Memorial Day

January 13
Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864) was a composer whose popular minstrel songs and sentimental ballads have found a lasting place in American music. When he died at the age of 37, suffering from poverty and alcoholism, he left behind more than 200 compositions—among them "Camptown Races," "Beautiful Dreamer," "My Old Kentucky Home," "Oh! Susanna," "Swanee River," and "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair."
January 13, the anniversary of Foster's death, was proclaimed as Stephen Foster Memorial Day in 1951. In Florida, this day is part of Stephen Foster Memorial Week, established by the state legislature in 1935.
One of the most widely known observances takes place at the Stephen Foster Center in White Springs, Florida, on the Sunday nearest January 13. The events commemorating Foster's contributions to American music include performances by musical groups from schools and universities throughout the state and daily concerts from the 97-bell carillon tower. During the preceding October, the so-called "Jeanie auditions" (named for Foster's wife, the subject of "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair") are held to determine the winner of a music scholarship for 18- to 21-year-old Florida women. The winner often appears at the Memorial Week festivities and performs some of Foster's songs.
CONTACTS:
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
P.O. Box G
White Springs, FL 32096
386-397-2733
SOURCES:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 58
AnnivHol-2000, p. 9