Events and projects to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Whitley County’s founding are beginning to take shape.
The Whitley County Bicentennial Committee met Thursday afternoon and announced plans for some type of celebration every month during 2018.
“We want to do something every month next year,” noted Whitley County Projects Director Amber Owens.
Tentatively planned celebrations include:
- January – a “birthday party” complete with a birthday cake is planned at the old Whitley County Courthouse. Banners designed by Whitley County Treasurer Jeff Gray will be placed around the courthouse and will be displayed throughout the year.
- February – the results of a coloring contest for youngsters will be unveiled. The artwork will be displayed throughout the year as part of the celebration.
- March and May – celebrations will be held in conjunction with local car shows, and include bicentennial vehicle decals that will be given out. The decals will be based on the banner design.
- April – a historical marker commemorating the founding of Whitley County in 1818 will be officially unveiled on April 7.
“Samuel Cox doesn’t even have a tombstone,” Owens noted of Cox, who donated six acres of land where the original courthouse was built. He also had a tavern where meetings were held.
The current courthouse and judicial center are located on the land that Cox originally donated to the county.
County officials also plan to take part in celebrations that the city of Williamsburg has planned all month long.
- June – anniversary festivities are planned as part of the Sally Gap Bluegrass Festival.
- July – barbeque cook-off is planned, similar to the chili cook-off that Williamsburg has every fall. An event is also planned in conjunction with July 4 festivities.
- August – festivities are planned in conjunction with Nibroc and the Kayaking for Kids boat race.
- September – anniversary festivities are planned in conjunction with Old Fashioned Trading Days. Owens noted that people are being encouraged to dress in period clothing in commemoration of the anniversary celebration.
Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz added that during the early days of the festival, people would dress in old-style clothing and decorated their offices, businesses and storefronts for the festival.
- October – officials hope to incorporate the celebration with the annual Jeep Jamboree and the Whitley County Historical and Genealogical Society’s Heritage Day.
- November – officials hope to incorporate the anniversary celebration with Veteran’s Day festivities, and to do something in conjunction with local schools, possibly some type of play focusing on the county’s founding.
Owens said that the county may also work with the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Office to do some type of exhibit similar to the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit currently on display in Corbin.
- December – officials hope to incorporate anniversary festivities with Christmas parades in both Corbin and Williamsburg.
Some of the details still need to be nailed down, Owens added.
Officials noted that they are also going to collect items for a time capsule, but haven’t decided whether the time capsule will be placed in the ground near the Samuel Cox historical marker or possibly be placed in Schwartz’s office.
Owens noted that celebration organizers have run across an old photo with Whitley County officials posing for a large group photo outside the courthouse, and that they would like to recreate a similar photo with current officials that might be placed side by side with a copy of the older photo inside the time capsule.
They hope to recreate that picture in March.
Officials are also working to put together a comprehensive list of county officials dating back to the county’s founding.
Sheriff Colan Harrell noted that he has put together a pretty comprehensive list of all the sheriffs in Whitley County history.
“In 1959, we had four sheriffs. There’s not many counties that have that,” he added.
Owens added that the fiscal court needs help from local residents in locating pictures of former elected officials.
Anyone with pictures of past officials that they would like to share with the county is asked to contact Owens at the Whitley County Judge-Executive’s Office at 549-6000, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.