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Festivals, a sunburn and a bellyache

As most readers are making their way through this issue, I will be making my way across the country back to my friend’s home in Nebraska to withstand the heat of Saturday’s afternoon sun. We are gathering a group of acquaintances for a jam band to play all afternoon for a community BBQ festival. I can hardly come up with a better way to spend a short vacation than playing guitar and indulging in ribs and brisket!

I have always enjoyed community festivals, but my reasoning has changed over the years. When I was a kid, it was fun to run around with pals and pursue undetected mischief. As I started getting a little older, I enjoyed attending to check out the entertainment and attractions. Eventually, I started finding myself involved with the organizing and promotion of festivals as well as performing at them, which amplified that enjoyment much more.

Today, I appreciate community events on a different level. I’m a strong traditionalist, so I see such events as a symbol of the old-fashioned sense of community. Be it the Kentucky State BBQ Festival in Danville, Court Days in Mt. Sterling or the All-American Burger Bash in Nicholasville, such festivals are wonderful for communities.

First off, community festivals provide excellent opportunities for infusions of tourism dollars. Towns must take every opportunity they can find ways to entice non-local visitors to leave a few bucks behind in gas stations, restaurants, hotels or retail stores. Festivals are great avenues for this, as they often feature good (taste-wise, if not necessarily health-wise) food, music and entertainment. Entertainment is a substantial slice of the pie when it comes to family budgets, and opportunities to take a family to one place that has something of interest for all age ranges are available.

Secondly, festivals are great boosts for community spirit and pride. In this age of rampant “busy-ness” where civic engagement struggles for participation and frequently loses the battle to burn-out and apathy, a sense of community pride is increasingly important. It is very difficult for communities to grow and flourish in an environment where only a few individuals are willing to help keep the ball rolling forward and not let it trek sideways off track or worse — but even more common — roll backwards until it stops. Community involvement is, sadly, decreasing more with each generation it seems.

Finally, festivals are also great opportunities for meeting new area residents, and chances to mingle about with neighbors you didn’t know and catch up with acquaintances in person as opposed to through a screen.

Speaking of the All-American Burger Bash, I think that everyone will be excited to hear about all of the events that will be transpiring the first weekend of September here in Nicholasville. I am particularly looking forward to the talent contest, of which I am involved. It will be the Granddaddy Of All Talent Contests, I’m telling you! Everyone better start practicing now, because I will roll out rules and entry information in the next few weeks.

After, of course, I return home after this weekend with a sunburn and a bellyache. I can’t wait!