Hundreds of people will be pouring into Williamsburg for the 55th Annual Old Fashion Brush Arbor Meeting, which is a tent style revival that served as the inspiration for Old Fashioned Trading Days.
The five-day event starts on the Wednesday before Labor Day and runs through Sunday and is located off Brush Arbor Road in Williamsburg with meetings starting at 7 p.m. nightly.
“We have a good old fashion tent revival under a metal shed,” said Rev. Jerry Sester, who is currently president of the Old Fashion Brush Arbor Meeting. “We have pine limbs cut up over the top of us and wood shavings on the dirt floor with 250 chairs underneath and we just sing and preach and leave our denominations and doctrines outside for a week and worship the Lord.”
Sester said that on Friday and Saturday nights of the meeting, there are typically between 200 to 250 people in attendance, who come as far away as Tennessee, Michigan and Indiana.
“Our whole community up there, Brush Arbor Church Road and everything, got its name from the Brush Arbor meetings that began up there,” Sester noted. “Old Fashioned Trading Days got its name from Old Fashion Brush Arbor. People would come in for Old Fashion Brush Arbor and they would come downtown and shop when the town had some stores on Main Street. Old Fashioned Trading Days got their kick off from Old Fashion Brush Arbor.”
Rev. Bill Childers and his wife, Martha, started the event 55 years ago as a way to honor the way that the old people worshiped when they started in April and went through October under a lean-to with brush on top of it and a sawdust floor underneath.
“He wanted to have a one-year memorial service so he started at the McCreary County 4-H Camp then he moved to Williamsburg,” said Sester, who is Childers’ son-in-law.
The event took place in McCreary County for the first three years before moving to Whitley County where it has remained for the last 52 years.
Sester admits that he is surprised the event has lasted 55 years.
Sester said that his wife, Rena, promised her father on his deathbed 20 years ago that they would continue the event as long as they were able.
“His dream that he thought would end is still going on,” he added.
Each year at the event, organizers display a sign that says, “the tradition continues.”
On Thursday night, Mark Lawson from Refuge Church in Rockholds will hold the singing and preaching.
Randy Steely from Solid Rock Church in Corbin will be in charge of the service Friday and Saturday evening The Voices of Praise, out of Barbourville will perform. Rev. Arlie Petrey from Riverside Church of God will preach Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, Sunday school will be held under the brush at 10 a.m. followed by a special singing.
Sester said the shelter house off Brush Arbor Road has seating for about 250 people, but that people are invited to bring their lawn chairs and come out for the service. He promises that there is adequate parking.
To get to the event, turn onto Main Street and then onto Brush Arbor Church Road behind the waterpark and follow the signs.
Anyone wanting more information about the event is asked to contacted Jerry or Rena Sester at 549-3086 or 344-3883.