MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Bailey in 41st year as Pioneer Festival volunteer

Published 9:57 am Thursday, August 22, 2019

As long as there’s been a Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival, Bobby Bailey has been working behind the scenes.

Throughout those decades, Bailey said he did what needed to be done to help the event and represent his community better.

The retired house builder, volunteer firefighter and county rescue squad member is gearing up for next weekend’s festival in College and Lykins parks, but took a moment to sit down with the Winchester Sun at College Park.

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Winchester Sun: How long have you lived in Winchester?

Bobby Bailey: All my life. I am a real Clark Countian. I am one of 13 (siblings), two sets of twins in the family, but there’s only two of us left.


WS: How did you get connected with the Pioneer Festival?

BB: I volunteered to help out because I knew something. Being an electrician, I’ve been a house builder.

Used to, we had one little temporary electric service (in College Park). There was only one plug.

If you look now, you’ll see a meter pack on each (light post). It’s all underground. I’ll take the covers off and I have pedestals that everyone plugs into.

When the festival’s over, they disappear.


WS: How many hours have you put in?

BB: I’ll actually start this weekend.

I’ll start putting the electrical pedestals in. This gives me time to check them out.

If anything’s broken or doesn’t work, I have time to fix it.

Every day we’ll be doing something. On Monday, I’ll put in all my electrical pedestals. This isn’t the only place. We have Lykins Park, too. I’ll also go down and get things for the Labor Day events too. I make sure they’re in good shape.

On Tuesday, we’ll be over here cutting limbs and making sure everything works.

On Wednesday, we’ll hang the banners on the courthouse.

Thursday, we’ll be back over here with a bucket truck. I have a PA system that I hang all through here. I have five speakers, so you can talk to everybody.

Friday, we start blocking off all these positions for people to set up. I’ll have some food vendors who arrive Friday to set up.

About 3 p.m. I’ll leave and go to the courthouse for the street dance. I’ll work with the sound man and get him set up.

Hopefully I can get out of there at 12 and go home.

Sunlight the next morning, I’m back over here waiting for that 16-foot trailer with all the standups for parking lots and no entry signs. We’ve got tents to set up. That’ll go to Saturday about 6.

Sunday morning, I have another trailer going to Lykins Park. Hopefully we’ll be done by 12 or 1 (a.m.). We start early.


WS: How does the festival function so well year after year?

BB: We’ve got one hell of a committee and crew. We’re lucky to get about the same ones we had last year.

For instance, the ladies that take care of the run, they do that. I used to have to go help them set up. I don’t have to any more.

Everybody does their part and it all comes together just fine.

It’s mostly volunteers. We need people to show up. You need to be a good ambassador for your community.


WS: How did you get started doing electrical work?

BB: I wired my first house in 1957. It still works.

I went to drafting college over in Louisville. Then I went to the military.

Back then, we had the draft. I did my three years and did that. Then I came back and built houses.

I went to work for what was then Epperson Hardware and Building Supply. You could bring in a set of blueprints and I could sit down and tell you how much it would cost to build the house to the exact 2×4.

Even then, I was a volunteer fireman. I put in more hours as a volunteer than the regular firefighters.

I was the chief of the local rescue unit for years. My first aid run was in a 1967 Cadillac hearse from Scobee Funeral Home driven by a guy named Eddie Rye.


WS: How did you get started fighting fires?

BB: I wanted to help somebody. I wanted to help my neighbor.

You go to fires long enough, you’ll learn what to do and what not to do.

I just like to help somebody. I didn’t care about money. … They’re my neighbors. They’re my kinfolk.

Don’t ever let a day go by unless you do a good deed. Down the road, it’ll come back to you.


WS: What’s next on the list to do with the park and Lykins?

BB: I’d like to retire but I can’t find anyone to take my place.

You need to know something about electricity. Some vendors, they try to do their own wiring and they mess up. Then they come in here and hook up and blow what I’ve got. … We’ve got all these lights we need to fix.

Whatever it takes to make it work, we do it.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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