By the summer of 1970, the Coalition had grown from just a handful of nursing and medical students into a large and ambitious group of 40+ students from all academic departments at Vanderbilt. They conducted their first health fair that summer in Smithville, Tenn. That fair was largely frustrating and disappointing, for reasons well articulated by Ann Baile Hamric and Rod Lorenz in a video clip documenting The Smithville Story: basically, access to health care, even for low income residents, was already pretty good for most residents in and around Smithville. But the Coalition learnings from the event were deep and wide, and shaped the work of the Coalition for years to come.
The town itself was largely prosperous compared to smaller coal mining towns further east. It is located about 90 miles east of Nashville. Ever since 1971, it has hosted the now-famous Old Time Fiddler’s Jamboree and Crafts Fair.