It’s the best four-day stretch of the year, I think. I know some don’t agree. That’s fine.
To me, it’s just one big celebration, right in our downtown. We close down the streets. We set the grind of reality aside for just a bit and all resolve to have a great time. We come together as a community. We visit and socialize. We enjoy funnel cakes and blooming onions and deep-fried Oreos, all to the soundtrack of great live music, and the lights and sounds of a carnival right on our Main Street.
I do so much volunteering, tournament organizing and helping at the festival, that by the time it’s over Saturday night, I’m near exhausted.
For years after I first arrived in Corbin, I didn’t really appreciate the festival. I guess I’m trying to make up for lost time.
There’s this book — I’ve referenced it before in this column — called Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury. It’s a lyrical homage to the author’s fond remembrances of summers in his youthful years. It’s a work of complete and total nostalgia.
The book is set in Green Town, Illinois (which doesn’t actually exist). But it might as well be Corbin. The powerful feelings Bradbury evokes in his novel, and the sense of loss he has about the intrusion of technology, and simply growing older, on his once simple life, is compelling reading.
Dandelion Wine is a metaphor for all the joys of summer distilled into a single bottle. Many of my good summer memories in Corbin originate with the festival.
I did not grow up in Corbin … a fact that, the longer I live here, the more I regret. There are a whole lot of reasons for that, but the NIBROC Festival is one of them. We never had anything like that where I grew up. Not anything as good, anyway.
When I talk to folks around town, even ones that may dislike it now for whatever reason, most everyone seems to have a strong, deep attachment to the NIBROC Festivals of yesteryear.
There’s a small theatrical production even based on two characters that meet in a rail passenger car in the 1940s, and begin to fall in love. Raleigh — the military airman who has been given a medical leave — meets May. The two realize they are from neighboring Kentucky towns and begin to fall in love. He decides to switch trains and promises to take May to … where else … the next NIBROC Festival!
In the 22 years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen NIBROC be very small, and then grow exponentially for a decade or so, only to atrophy again when it was moved off Main Street.
Now, it’s back on an upswing. I’ve had a few people tell me that when NIBROC ends, it pretty much signals the end of summer as well. It’s back to school. Back to the grind.
The festival is one last bash before we start turning the corner into fall and then winter.
Goodbye NIBROC 2018. As usual, it was an interesting ride.