44th Annual Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival celebrates crafts, music and more in Winchester

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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The environment was filled with spectacle in downtown Winchester from Friday through Sunday during Labor Day weekend.

Featuring live music, craft vendors, food vendors, and so much more, the 44th Annual Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival was a rousing success.

“We have a very good crowd. We had a good crowd early”, said City Commissioner and Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival Committee member Kitty Strode. “Thanks to our sponsors and thanks to everybody in Winchester for supporting this Festival.”

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By 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, the atmosphere of the festival – which had vendors lined up along Main Street – was already filling with excitement.

Walking along Wall Street, visitors could see food vendors setting up – including Spencer Concessions.

Jason Spencer, Owner of Spencer Concessions, located in Somerset, attended the festival for the 28 time over the weekend.

Along with his family, he helped sell ribeye steak sandwiches, Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwiches and more.

“We love the people. We love cooking food”, Spencer said. “I never thought I’d be standing here talking to you today, twenty-eight years later… it’s been fun!”

While many vendors were Kentucky natives, out-of-state vendors also made the trek.

Jim Tartt, who owns Sopchoppy Sauce, made his way from Sopchoppy, Fl. – a town near Tallahassee and over 600 miles from Winchester.

“[My grandfather] bought a home in Maysville, Kentucky, about thirty years ago. We’ve been coming up here ever since”, Tartt said. “While we’re here enjoying the beautiful weather, we do a little bit of work. We love it up here. It’s a great place!” Among other food vendors present were Mac-A-Tude, Smokin Wheels BBQ and Regeneration Distillery.

For entertainment, many opportunities were available.

Not only were several inflatables set up just behind the Clark County Courthouse, but businesses such as Bruck’s Thumbs Up Facepainting – which also does birthday parties – had spots established.

“This is my seventh year now. I love what the festival is for the homemade arts and crafts things that they do here, and I enjoy being a part of it”, she said. “[I paint] anything from a princess to Spiderman. Scary stuff [and] happy stuff…whatever the kids want,” said owner Bruck Esarey

Helping to keep everyone engaged, guests heard from several musicians.

While J.D. Shelburne took to the stage on Saturday night to the delight of many, Fred Keams – a flute maker and musician who is also a member of the Navajo tribe – played several songs, including his version of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”

“I’ve been playing the Native American flute ever since I was a little boy. I just started making it when I moved here to Kentucky”, Keams said. “I perform all over Kentucky and try to spread my Navajo culture, my songs, and I try to play traditional and contemporary.”

Of course, the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival is only complete with an eclectic variety of arts and crafts.

Alysin Montgomery, the owner of The Bullet Lady, is from Booneville.

Her business makes unique handmade bullet jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, and more.

“I make handmade bullet jewelry, which is made from upcycled ammunition from local gun ranges,” said Montgomery. “It just seemed like something different; something not everybody would see everybody…they are stainless steel.”

Thomas Finch, owner of Reclaimmyway, attended from La Grange.

Using wood from various sources, he sought to create objects that could be used for everyday living.

“We make cutting boards and charcuterie boards…our larger boards and live edge boards have handmade Damascus knives that come with the boards,” Finch said.

Eddie Price, a former history teacher at Hancock County High School and Owensboro Technical and Community College, owns Miller’s Mill Publishing, LLC.

Not only is he the author of several historical books – including “Widder’s Landing” and “An Unlikely Trio: The Winners of the 1913 Kentucky Derby” – Price has written children’s books featuring the main character Little Miss Grubby Toes.

Dressed in a pioneer costume along with his wife, Mary, Price brought along a puppet of Little Miss Grubby Toes.

“I go into the classrooms. These books were really the stories I told my daughters when they were young kids”, Price said. “I met this illustrator [named] Mark Wayne Adams. We started collaborating [and] worked with an editor…they’re all about listening to your mom and dad. There’s values and life lessons.”

With the various opportunities available, many families throughout the community took the time to attend.

Along with her husband, Dan, and daughter, Lilly, resident Jenny Florence was one of them.

“I like the downtown setup… it’s much [easier] to see the vendors and get to the vendors”, Flores said. “I see they’re trying to revitalize downtown… that’s good.”

It’s something that Strode and other community members hope to continue seeing in the future.

“I think a lot of people love arts and crafts festivals, so they want to bring whatever they make,” she said. “Come and support Winchester!”