Festival season is coming, and nearly every community in Kentucky has something
to celebrate. Some festivals serve as homecomings, when people who have moved
away return to families and friends. Others focus on traditions passed on from
earlier times, or on local foods or crafts.
So if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do, to watch,
to buy, or to eat, or if you just want to hang out with fellow Kentuckians, here’s
a sampling of this year’s festivals (for music festivals, see Where to Find Kentucky’s
Music on page 30).
Call ahead to confirm dates.
Arts and Crafts
19-20 Hopkinsville, Little River Days. (800) 909-9016.
19-21 Berea, Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen Spring Fair. (800)
20 Corinth, The Gathering on Crooked. (606) 824-3978.
26-28 Middlesboro, Appalachian Reflections. (606) 248-2817.
27-28 Gilbertsville, Crafts in the Village, 25th annual juried show, Kentucky
Dam Village State Park. (270) 474-8325.
10-11 Florence, Art in the Park. (606) 371-5491.
23-25 Louisville, Craft, Hobby and Antique Show at Kentucky Fair and Expo Center.
14-16 Berea Crafts Festival. (800) 598-5263.
4-6 Harrodsburg, Pleasant Hill Crafts Fair. (800) 734-5611.
21 Slade, Mountain Market Festival. (606) 663-6404.
26-27 Maysville, Riverwalk Arts Festival, a juried show. (606) 564-9411 x322.
17 Harrodsburg, Street Art Fair. (606) 865-2530.
6-8 Louisville, St. James Court Art Show. (502) 635-5244.
13-15 Berea, Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen Fall Fair. (800) 598-5263.
14 Corinth, Pumpkins, Mums and Gourds Day. (606) 824-3978.
14-15 Gilbertsville, Crafts in the Village, 25th annual juried show, Kentucky
Dam Village State Park. (270) 474-8325.
28-29 Mt. Olivet, Halloween Campout and Pioneer Craft Festival. (606) 289-5507.
24-25 Harlan, Festival of the Mountain Masters. (606) 573-2900.
2 Morehead, Christmas Crafts Market. (800) 654-1944.
Books and Storytelling
16-17 Louisville, Corn Island Storytelling Festival. Its 25th anniversary features
all Native American storytelling. (502) 245-0643.
22-23 Greenup, Jesse Stuart Weekend. Lectures, book readings, and field trips
honor the famous writer. (606) 473-7324.
22-24 Morehead, Cave Run Storytelling Festival. Nationally known storytellers.
27-28 Harrodsburg, Storytelling at the River. Tall tales and fables are told around
a bonfire at Shaker Landing. (800) 734-5611.
24-26 Kentucky Book Fair. National and local writers sign books for everyone.
A vestige of the time when “Court Monday” was the day to go to the county seat
for horse, dog, and gun swapping, visiting, and, incidentally, court. Three Court
Day festivals remain:
September 23-24 Maysville, (606) 564-9411.
October 7-9 Flemingsburg, (606) 845-0639.
October 14-16 Mt. Sterling, (606) 498-8732.
6 Frankfort, Governor’s Derby Breakfast. Free feasting for everyone, plus entertainment
and crafts. (800) 960-7200.
12-13 Owensboro, International Bar-B-Q Festival. Tons of food prepared by teams
that are judged for their cooking. (800) 489-1131.
9-10 Bowling Green. Duncan Hines Festival honors famous native food writer. (800)
3-8 Carlisle. Blackberry Festival. (606) 289-2384.
8-10 Berea Spoonbread Festival. (606) 986-9760.
14-17 Bardstown. Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Not exactly food, but Kentucky’s most
famous corn product. (800) 638-4877.
21-24 London. World Chicken Festival. “World’s largest frying pan.” (800) 348-0095.
23-24 Lebanon. Marion County Ham Days. (270) 692-9594.
29-30 Paducah’s Barbecue on the River and Old Market Days. (800) PADUCAH.
29-October 1 Grayson, Carter County Sorghum Festival. An old cane mill, plus music,
crafts, etc. (606) 474-4403.
7-8 Berea, Mountain Folk Festival. (606) 986-4434.
13-16 Paducah, American Quilter’s Society National Quilt Show. Over 400 quilts
on display. (270) 898-7903.
1 Harrodsburg, May Day Celebration, Old Fort Harrod State Park. (606) 734-3314.
12-14 Carrollton, Kentucky Scottish Weekend. (800) 325-0078.
13-14 Cordova, Pioneer Festival. (606) 824-0565.
3 Frankfort, Boone Day commemorates discovery of the Bluegrass. Kentucky History
Center. (877) 4-HISTORY.
8-11 Newport, Italian Festival. (606) 292-3666.
11-18 Morehead, Appalachian Celebration. (606) 784-6221.
24 Louisville, Pride Fair celebrates diversity. Willow Park. (502) 574-5496 x20.
1-8 Marion, Crittenden County Homecoming. (270) 965-2418.
3-8 Paducah, Emancipation Celebration commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation.
10-12 Henderson, Bluegrass Music and Folklife Festival. (800) 648-3128.
18-20 Harrodsburg, Pioneer Days. (800) 355-9192.
26 Flemingsburg, Covered Bridge Festival. Fleming County’s three covered bridges
are featured with juried crafts, music, archeological displays, and pioneer demonstrations.
1-4 Winchester, Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival honors its most famous resident.
3 Horse Cave, AussiFest. Contests and games at Kentucky Down Under. (800) 762-2869.
5 Harlan, Heritage Days. (606) 573-4156.
9-10 Hopkinsville, Trail of Tears Indian Pow Wow. Native American dancing, storytelling,
arts. (800) 842-9959.
11 Prestonsburg, Kentucky Highland Folk Festival. (800) 644-4704.
15-17 Danville, Constitution Square Festival celebrates Kentucky’s statehood.
23-October 2 Middlesboro, Within The Shadows of Cumberland Gap Trade Faire concentrates
on Native American, pioneer, and African-American heritage. (606) 248-2817.
28-30 Frankfort, Kentucky Folklife Festival. Urban and rural folklife traditions;
demonstrations, exhibits, food, and music. (502) 564-1792.
6-8 Falmouth, Kentucky Wool Festival. Demonstrations of sheep industry. (606)
7 Bowling Green, International Festival celebrates multi-cultural heritage. (270)
13-14 Forkland, Heritage Festival. Entire town is on National Register for Historic
Preservation. (606) 332-7839.
Just Plain Fun
April 15-May 6
Louisville, Kentucky Derby Festival. Fireworks, Pegasus Parade, Great Steamboat
Race, Kentucky Derby. (800) 928-FEST.
Bowling Green, Firstar Balloon Classic. More than 60 hot air balloons in the air.
13 Versailles, Buckley Hills Audubon Society Family Fun Day. Nature programs.
7-8 Carrollton, Two Rivers Fall Festival. Car show, flea market, arts and crafts,
music. (800) 325-4290.
14 Mackville, Harvest Festival. Country breakfast, contests, parade, flea market,
craft booths, bake sales. (606) 262-6105 or 5248.
A Celebration of Traditions
Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Festivals Association, the Kentucky
Folklife Festival celebrates the varied folk traditions of Kentuckians.
“It represents traditions in the whole state,” says Bob Gates, director
of the Kentucky Folklife Program at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort.
This year’s Kentucky Folklife Festival will again take place in Frankfort,
September 28-30, with the twin themes of Urban Folklife and the Folklife of Country
Music Highway 23.
Funded by both the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Arts Commission,
the festival “brings the best of what both can give us,” says folklife specialist
Brent Bjorkman. “It’s a multi-cultural way to show we all have a folk life and
are all part of folk groups, urban as well as rural.”
As folk traditions are mostly nonverbal, a foodways stage demonstrates
food traditions, with booths where you can buy foods of different ethnic and cultural
groups. Continuous music reflects the backgrounds of performers, as do demonstrations
and discussions of crafts such as woodcarving, hand-painting, and chairmaking.
More than 9,000 school children attend on the Thursday of the festival, and a
training program shows how to add folklife to other local festivals.
“It shows the uniqueness and commonality of Kentucky people,” Bjorkman says, “and
increases awareness of our heritage and pride for the state.”-Marty Godbey
Masters of Music
For coming up on seven years now, the third weekend in July has brought
musicians from near and far to Somerset for the Master Musicians Festival.
This year’s festival features five-time Grammy Award winner Doc Watson,
who performs July 22. The three-day festival of music, dancing, arts and crafts,
and activities for children typically begins with an indoor classical music concert
and an art exhibition on Thursday. Friday and Saturday events are held outside
at Somersport Park. The festival this year runs July 20-22.
Here’s this year’s lineup:
Thursday: the Louisville Orchestra with violinist Rachel Barton and pianist Jeffrey
Friday: Karousel (rock), Sofa Kings Deluxe (blues), Les Sampou Band (folk/blues/rock),
Amazing Rhythm Aces (country/southern rock).
Saturday: Jim Hurst and Missy Rains (bluegrass), Tony Trishka and Bill Evans (duo
banjos), Juggernaut Jug Band (eclectic), Atwater-Donnelly (folk-traditional),
St. Peter Claver Church Choir (black gospel), Claire Lynch and the Front Porch
String Band (bluegrass), Doc Watson and Friends (country/bluegrass/jazz/swing),
and the John Cowan Band (bluegrass rock).
Advance tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for teens. Children 12
and under are free. For more information call toll-free (888) 386-5859, or visit
the Web site at www.mmfest.com. For travel, lodging, and area information call
the area visitors bureau at (800) 642-6287.