By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
It’s that time of year again — time to step back and enjoy a few days of Williamsburg’s annual Old Fashioned Trading Days.
This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the trading days, which boasts all kinds of activities and entertainment, from arts and crafts, to Bluegrass music, gospel music, all kinds of food and games and entertainment for the younger attendees.
The event kicks off Wednesday and runs through Saturday night.
On Wednesday, vendors can set up their booths after 2 p.m. Also, registration for the Quilt Show and Canning Contest will be held 10 a.m. to noon at the Whitley County Extension office downtown.
That show and contest will then be exhibited at the Extension office from 1-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
According to Alvin Sharpe, director of the Whitley County Tourism Commission, the city is ready for this annual celebration.
“This will be the biggest and the best we’ve ever had,” Sharpe said.
He explained there will be two stages set up so folks can listen to the various music groups slated to perform.
He said that on Thursday, Bluegrass music will fill the ears of all those within range. According to Sharpe, one of those bands slated to perform that evening is Klassyc Tymes.
“They are really a well-known and well-liked group in this area,” he said.
Other bands featured that night include the Whitley County Colonel Strings, Mountain Connection, Tad Paddle, Tidalwave Road, the Moron Brothers, and the Laurel River Line.
“Then on Friday and Saturday we’ll have the traditional gospel music,” Sharpe said, adding that well-known singer Megan Sasko is slated to perform Friday night.
Other gospel groups performing for the crowd are Peggy Inks, Clear Fork with Clifford Moses, Ron & Vernon & Straight Creek, Mercy’s Reigns, two sets from the Mike Bowling Family, and The Believers.
Friday morning, stage 1 will host several students from Williamsburg and Whitley County schools. Whitley Central Intermediate performs first that day, and that’s followed by Williamsburg High School’s choir, and then band, performing. The Whitley Middle School choir then will take the stage, followed by Whitley High School’s choir, and then band.
Friday morning opens with registration for the Vegetable Show and contest runs 9-10:45 a.m. with judging to follow at 11.
Friday also ends the Quilt Show and Canning Contest, and those exhibits may be picked up between 6-7 that night.
Saturday’s events begin with a Car Show at the Whitley County Health Department from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Sharpe said that Junior Peace has been behind getting this Car Show put together.
“He’s like a bull in a china shop,” Sharpe laughed. “We hope for 100 percent — and he gives us 110 percent and 120 percent.”
He added that there may even be a completely rebuilt 1924 Ford. “We are looking for a really good car show this year,” Sharpe promised.
Also at 8 a.m. Saturday the registration begins for the Kiwanis/Harold Mauney 5K Run/Walk at the University of the Cumberlands’ James H. Taylor stadium. Then at 9 a.m. the race kicks off.
Also at 9 a.m. the Sid Strunk Memorial Corn Toss Tournament registration begins, with the competition starting up at 10 a.m.
There will also be several other family-oriented activities throughout the day Saturday, including a youth talent show.
Sharpe said also that Williamsburg’s own Bill Bryant from WKYT will be on hand as the Trading Days’ special guest.
At 3 p.m., the gospel singing resumes with Heavenly Heirs leading the lineup. Also scheduled to perform on the gospel stage Saturday are The Whisnants, Jeff and Sheri Easter, and The Primitives.
Sharpe said that night the ABD Band will perform on stage 2.
“This is a great addition to the Old Fashioned Trading Days,” he said, adding they meet the needs “of a more younger group.”
The weather also looks to cooperate, according to Sharpe. “We’re going to have good weather,” he said. “And there will be great entertainment and even more booths this year.”
While the entertainment is free for everyone, Sharpe wants folks to know this is a major fundraising event for local nonprofit agencies.
He explained that nonprofit groups, including schools and churches, will receive monies during this event. Others wanting to set up but who don’t fall under one of those categories will be allowed to set up, with the understanding that 20 percent of their monies will be donated to a nonprofit agency of the festival committee’s choice.
“This is really going to be a great event,” Sharpe said.
This annual Trading Days event began in the early 1980s as the idea of former mayor Paul Estes’ wife, Theresa Estes.
“When this comes around it always makes me think of Theresa Estes,” said Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison, who added he is ready for the Trading Days to begin.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Harrison said. “It’s always a great time.”
Sharpe wanted to let people know or remind them of the street closures during this event, which start Wednesday.
He explained that Main Street will close from Second through Fourth streets, and also from Cumberland Avenue through Sycamore Street. “Those will remain closed until Sunday,” he said.