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A home away from home

High Bridge Festival in Wilmore returns this weekend

History, people and family ties are bringing Wilmore’s High Bridge Homecoming Festival back for its 15th year in Jessamine County this weekend.
“We want you to feel at home whether it is or is not your home,” Judy Woolumns said. “We have returnees each year from Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and other states.”
The two-day event begins Saturday at 10 a.m. and runs through Sunday until 5 p.m. with events such as a model train exhibit, antique tractors, caboose museum, park museum, free inflatables, pony rides for the children and art in the park activities.
Located at 4699 High Bridge Road in Wilmore, the High Bridge Festival will also include Fitch’s IGA handing out free watermelon for the 10th year in a row.
“Leonard Fitch, the owner, is known for not only caring for the physical body of people but also caring for the spiritual side too,” Woolumns said. “There is much affection for Fitch’s IGA and their generosity. We are now seeing third-generation Fitch family members coming to the park to hand out the slices. There is just something ‘old-timey’ about gathering around for a slice of ice-cold watermelon being handed off to you from the back of a pick-up truck.”
New this year is a 5K run with 15 registered runners so far and inquiries coming in daily, Woolumns said. Runners will leave the park and run on High Bridge Road to a predestined point before returning to the park.
“The County Sheriff’s Office is working with the committee to provide a safe experience for everyone,” Woolumns said.
Also new this year, is a towboat which was placed at the park upon its retirement from Valley View.
“We already have a caboose and a large paddle wheel, plus the High Bridge adjacent to the park,” Woolumns said. “It was moved to the park within the last month, so at this point visitors will simply walk around it and view it from ground level.”
Live music will also be available for those who attend starting at noon on Saturday and continuing until closing, around 9 p.m. Woolumns said music will resume Sunday at noon and many talented bands have signed up to perform in genres such as classic country, soft rock, gospel and bluegrass. The High Bridge Festival will also feature five food vendors and craft vendors such as woodworkers, basket makers, handcrafted soaps and lotions, specialty foods such as jams, jellies, popcorn, beer cheese, wreaths, tee shirts, girls’ bows and accessories. This will also be the 15th year for the quilt raffle.
“This year’s queen size quilt is themed the ‘Simple Life.’” Woolumns said. “Many donations from individuals and businesses throughout the county make it possible to offer three silent auctions over the two days and the very popular dessert auction takes place late Saturday afternoon. Because we don’t charge admission fee or fees within the park, we generate our operating revenue with auctions.”
Three silent auctions will take place over the course of two days with a variety of items up for grabs from handcrafted originals to practical items. A dollar raffle tent will also be set up with this year’s theme selected as Kentucky. Attendees can buy tickets for $1 and place that ticket in a container representing one of the following: Kentucky Proud Food (carries the official KY Proud label), Kentucky Dining (local non-chain restaurants), Kentucky Crafted (handmade items), Kentucky Fall (a fall yard arrangement of fodder shock, haybale, pumpkins, mums), Kentucky School Days (boy and girl backpacks filled with school supplies), Kentucky Winter (fire place set, chimney cleaning, KY River Task Force afghan) and last Kentucky Summer (swing and a hammock).
“Seven lucky winners will take home a really nice package for a $1 investment,” Woolumns said. “Almost all of these items have been donated as well. The park itself is worth the trip with giant trees, grassy lawn areas, restored gazebos, an overlook that takes in the Kentucky River and Dix River confluence, the Palisades, the massive High Bridge and of course the beautiful Pavilion.”

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