This would have been the week for the Nibroc Festival had COVID-19 not happened. On the News Journal Facebook page we have posted the question, “What will you miss the most about not having Nibroc?”
This would have been the 68th year of the festival. Since 1952, when Nibroc was formed, I have missed only four of the events.
I miss and fondly remember the early years of the festival. Back then it was mostly a community event.
In those early years the downtown business district was alive and about every business participated and we also had a carnival.
Store windows were decorated with memorabilia. Each year there was a kickoff breakfast at the Dixie Cafe. Store employees dressed for the occasion with the women wearing long dresses and bonnets and there was a beard growing contest for the men.
The annual parade featured three or four high school bands and plenty of floats. As a member of the Lions Club we entered a float each year. One of our members, Don Karr, was a genius at building our float.
I even broadcast on WCTT radio, with the help of Joan Barton, one of the early Nibroc beauty pageants from the Edwards Gym. Can you imagine that?
The festival kept growing and before long Dennis Lynch and Tom Elliott and others from the south Corbin Merchants Association extended the activities all the way out to the Forrest Hills Shopping Center. The festival has had several locations throughout the years.
I miss the concert years. By this time the festival had grown to the point that it was attracting thousands. Big name bands were making appearances. Bruce Carpenter ushered in what had become one of the best festivals in the state. It was a big tourist attraction.
The festival had been contained to Depot Street. Then on the 50th anniversary of Nibroc it was moved to Main Street.
Of all the Nibroc festivals I attended, this was my favorite. The weather was perfect. We had Corbin’s own Gary Edwards and East Bernstadt’s Carl Hurley performing, in addition to the other big name bands that were here.
There were two big tents set up, one at Nibroc park and the other at Monroe Street and both had very good bands entertaining each night, in addition to the concert stage area. Everything was great!
After a few years of success on Main Street the festival was given orders to move and it was back to Depot Street. The move cut down the big crowds.
But once again the festival was given permission to be on Main Street. By this time it had suffered momentum and the years of the big concerts were over.
However, in the past few years it has gained momentum again and big crowds are attending.
The early years had the entire community involved. The concert years had Bruce and the Chamber of Commerce working to making it successful.
Now, with a break this year let’s hope new energy will be here for next year. In the meantime I will miss the carnival rides for my grandchildren.