By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
In the 60 years Corbin’s Nibroc Festival has existed, one thing remains constant.
From that first festival in 1952 to this weekend’s schedule of events, the final days leading up to Nibroc are hectic.
Tuesday was no exception. On one end of Depot Street, the carnival rides were setting up. On the other end of Depot, the stage was coming together for the concerts starting tonight and continuing through Saturday night.
On Main Street firefighters and city workers were mapping out plans to change the way traffic will go when the weekend arrives and part of Main is closed. And all around are the sights and sounds of workers, vehicles, equipment and passers-by.
It’s a very hectic time. And Bruce Carpenter knows that very well.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces right now. We’re getting the stage together, and they’re bringing in the sound and lights tomorrow. It’s all coming together and it’s coming at a fast pace. The next two days it will all fall into place,” Carpenter said in an interview Tuesday.
Something else is also falling into place. It’s seen in the time, the effort, and the roll-up-your-sleeves spirit from numerous people helping out, not just this week, but year-round. Carpenter agrees that spirit continues to build on Nibroc’s proud and storied history across Kentucky and the nation.
“When you have good folks volunteering and a good staff taking care of things like the stage, the volleyball courts, the carnival and the small details, everything works out well,” he added.
The Executive Director of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Carpenter has worked on bringing musical entertainment to Nibroc for 29 years. Some well-known national groups and singers have graced the stage during that time, such as 38 Special, Blake Shelton, Joan Jett, Three Dog Night and Eddie Money.
“We’ve had some great entertainment, and it gives people a chance to see the entertainment for free,” said Carpenter.
The musical performances start tonight with Country and Christian Country singer T. Graham Brown and Candy Coburn. Friday night’s concert headlines classic rock group Styx, while Saturday’s stage will feature Peter Rivera, original lead singer and drummer for Rare Earth, along with Starship featuring Mickey Thomas.
Brown’s appearance tonight brings back special memories for Carpenter. Back when he was making his mark in Nashville, Brown was the first musical performer he signed to play at Nibroc.
It also brings back poignant memories of a woman who played a major part in the festival itself — Lorene Hodge, who passed away in April.
Hodge was with the Chamber of Commerce for over 50 years, and for much of that time was the chamber’s secretary. She was instrumental in founding Nibroc 60 years ago.
“She was a great lady. Lorene and other people asked me if I would start the entertainment for Nibroc. She worked hard for downtown and the community, and she made a difference in making Corbin a better place,” Carpenter noted.
Last Saturday at the 2012 Miss Nibroc Scholarship Pageant, Carpenter presented a plaque in memory of Hodge to her nephew, Robert Johnson and other family members.
The legacy left by those who began and guided Nibroc continues to this day, and Carpenter adds the festival has made Corbin the place to be during the second weekend in August.
“The entertainment’s just gotten bigger and bigger. The carnival has grown, and the number of vendors downtown has increased. At Nibroc time, we have a lot of folks call and plan their vacation time here. People from Michigan, Tennessee and other states come for the festival, and they really look forward to it,” he said.
When asked if he looked forward to taking a break from the hectic pace of the past few days, Carpenter replied, “It’s pretty much nonstop until Sunday.”
The pieces of what’s called Corbin’s festival have come together. Just like it has for 59 years.
Nibroc’s 60th Anniversary is right here, right now. Enjoy the show.
By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
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