May, what a wonderful month! It is the month for the Kentucky Derby, warmer weather and the Ossoli Club’s May Day Festival. The festival started 78 years ago and because of Covid last year’s and this year’s festivals have been a virtual event.
Three years ago, for the 75th anniversary of the event, I had the honor of being the Master of Ceremonies for the festival. Then, the next year our granddaughter was in the Tiny Queen’s court.
But my memories go back much further to when I was in the first grade and participated in the festival. As I wrote in my column for the 75th festival, I still have the outfit that I wore as a first grade student. My mother had saved it and before she died she wanted me to have it. It still hangs in my closet.
There was something about those early years that made the festival so special. For one thing we were not exposed to events happening outside of our local environment. We didn’t have television, just movies for entertainment, so an audience participation event was a big thing to a child.
I still remember our teacher Mrs. Mullins and the rehearsals for the little dance we did. I remember watching my mother sew my costume on her foot-pedal Singer sewing machine. And then the big day when us little ones walked into the gym and saw the big crowd. That was over 75 years ago and that impression has never left me.
With all that is available to young people now it is understandable that the festival would not be the same as it was for us back then, but they still enjoy it. It is a shame that they have not been able to experience the full event the past two years because of the pandemic.
From its beginnings 78 years ago the festival has continued to grow. Once the Gilliam Gym was built the festival moved to that larger facility. In recent years it was held at the Corbin Arena.
No doubt the Ossoli Club has taken a huge financial hit the last two years because of Covid. That hurts because the club uses the proceeds to fund community projects.
The club still gets funds from those of you who vote for the May Day Queen and May Day Tiny Queen. The winners and stories of the Queen’s contests are on our People page-9 in this edition of the News Journal.
The Ossoli Club has been innovative in keeping the May Day Festival going through these pandemic years by going virtual and also by scheduling parades for the public to see the entire courts. Weather permitting there will be a parade this
Saturday through downtown Corbin. Hopefully, the festival can return to the Arena next year.
• It was about this time 34 years ago when I first started discussing the possibility of becoming the publisher of this newspaper with Terry Forcht. In the next couple of weeks I plan to write about those times. Never before had a weekly newspaper survived in Corbin until we made the move back then.