Tradition mingles with new samplings at Forkland Festival

October 06, 2003

The traditional favorites return to this year's festival in Forkland, but there's always a little something new to sample.

A new feature of this year's festival - the 32nd annual - will be music by Billyblues, which performs blues music with a hillbilly flavor. The group performs 4-6 p.m. Saturday in front of the community center on Ky. 37.

This year's souvenirs include tote bags that incorporate old quilts in the center. Doris Purdom, one of the festival chairmen, says she made them because the old quilts weren't selling well and she wanted to use them in a new way. She used hemp material for some of the bags.

"It's a limited edition. That's it. There won't be any more," she says.

T-shirts that list all the hills and hollows of the Forkland community are another souvenir. They will cost $10.

One of the more unusual and revered activities is the bean and corn bread supper that is followed by a play. Jamie Hamblin, the author of last year's play, returns with a sequel this year.


Many from last year's cast return for "Family Matters," the story of a young woman from the country and the difficulties she faces in marrying a young man from the big city. Hamblin, who is substitute teaching while working on a master's degree in music performance, said she has come to love the characters she created for last year's play."

"Now, when I was writing it, I had everybody in my head," says Hamblin, who portrays the young woman, Mabel.

The festival is termed "the only true folk festival in Kentucky." Those manning the booths and exhibits inside the 75-year-old former school dress in overalls and old-timey clothing.

Visitors can take a hay wagon tour to a woodland waterfall or walk to a working sorghum molasses mill. Other attractions are a Cherokee summerhouse, an Indian teepee filled with relics and a Civil War re-enactor's encampment. Inside the community center are genealogical charts and heritage displays. A silent auction for one-of-a-kind handcrafted items occupies one room in the school.

An area of the silent auction room will be used to display the entries in this year's photo contest. Prizes will be awarded for the best Forkland community photos - people, scenery, buildings, work and fun. Winning photos are used for the 2004 Forkland calendar. Up to a dozen entries are allowed. They should be brought to the festival. Self-addressed, stamped envelops should be included so they can be returned or the ones that didn't win may be picked up late Saturday. Winning entries will be returned later at the community center's expense.

A pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. kicks off Saturday's festivities.

Festival hours are noon-10 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday.

Friday morning is an award-winning educational field day for school children to truly experience the past. Friday afternoon is suggested for senior citizen groups. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children. It is free for preschool age children. Advance group admission tickets are available at a discount.

Doors open for the supper theater at 7 p.m., with the drama beginning at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, with Friday tickets available. Reservations are required. Send checks to Janie Drye, 1005 Gravel Switch Road, Gravel Switch, Ky. 40328, or call Drye after 6 p.m. at (270) 692-2732.

For festival information, call Forkland Community Center (859) 332-7839, (859) 332-7146, 332-7197 or (800) 755-0076.

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