By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
For 64 straight years, Barbourville and Knox County have paid homage to one of America’s greatest pioneers, Daniel Boone.
Since 1948, the essential parts of what makes the Daniel Boone Festival a tradition — like the signing of the Cane Treaty, the Cherokee Entertainment, the Friendship Dance and the Pancake Breakfast — continue today.
In late August, a handsome statue of Boone was unveiled in front of the Knox County Courthouse. And this Sunday, he’ll be looking for you as the 65th edition of the festival bearing his name begins.
That first festival in 1948 was held in May, and lasted less than two full days.
This year’s festival runs a full week, and has become appointment visiting for thousands every second week of October.
Charlie Frazier, who has been with the Daniel Boone Festival Committee since 1970, said earlier this week the key to the festival’s success has been its stability through the decades.
“We have a lot of longevity, because the people who have been on the committees have been there for many years. We do have some new committee members, and they work well with our veteran members. When they all get together, everything kicks in,” added Frazier.
For many, the festival is a way to return home and keep in touch.
“It’s kind of a homecoming for everybody. Many high school classes have reunions, and so do families. And if you try to eat your way around the square, you’ll discover a lot of good cooking. The festival has a comfortable feel to it. It’s kind of like sitting on the front porch like people used to do years ago,” Frazier pointed out.
This year, 28 non-profit food booths will be set up at the Daniel Boone Festival. And this Sunday, the festivities kick off with the Shriners Scholarship Motorcycle Ride at 1 p.m, beginning at the Union Plaza parking lot. An hour later, the Daniel Boone Festival Baby Pageant will be held at the Knox Middle School Gym.
Highlighting Monday’s events will be Art, Photograph and Quilt Registration from 4-7 p.m. at Barbourville City Hall. At 7 p.m., the presentation and coronation of the festival’s 2012 Royalty takes place at the Knox Middle School Gym on North Main Street.
Carnival rides begin this Tuesday at 5 p.m., and at 6 p.m. the Knox Middle School will be filled with the sounds of inspiration during the Daniel Boone Festival Gospel Concert.
They’ll set up the food booths at the Pioneer Village this Wednesday, beginning at 4 p.m. Art, photography and quilt judging also begins that day, and the Information Booth opens that same evening in front of the Knox County Courthouse.
Many activities kick in this Thursday, such as a Cornhole Tournament at Union College, Bluegrass music on the Front Stage, a Talent Show on the Concert Stage, the DRIVEN Gospel Concert at 5 p.m. on the Concert Stage, and a popular event from last year — the All-American Lumberjack Show, starting at 8 p.m. in the Knox County Annex Lot.
Among the list of things coming up this Friday include the Daniel Boone Festival Feast at 5:30 p.m. at the National Guard Armory. This event features dinner, the Signing of the Cane Treaty, Cherokee Entertainment and the Friendship Dance. If you like music, the country band Little Texas comes to play in a free concert on the Concert Stage in Court Square at 9:30 p.m.
Next Saturday starts off with the Pancake Breakfast from 6:30-10:30 a.m. at the Jesse D. Lay School Cafeteria. The 4-mile Fun Run race scoots out at 8 a.m., while the Morning Show in front of the Court House Stage runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The annual Daniel Boone Festival Parade begins at 2 p.m., with more entertainment downtown after the parade. The festival ends that night with another festival concert, which features Dewayne Spaw at 6 p.m., Sweetheart Mafia at 7:15 p.m., and Tye Brown at 8:30 p.m.
A complete listing of events, information, directions and history on this year’s festival can be found at their website, www.danielboonefestival.com. You can also call the festival for general information at 606-546-4300.
For many years, Randell Young helped with the Daniel Boone Festival during his time as an employee for Barbourville City Utilities. Now retired, he agrees the emphasis on the festival’s historical roots have kept it as solid as the granite holding Mr. Boone’s new bronze statue in front of the Courthouse.
“It’s tradition. It’s family, and it’s fun. It’s fun to see old friends and meet new friends downtown. And there’s a lot of things to do during the festival. There always is.”