Kitty Strode was less concerned about the cost of gas as she was the general economic downturn as Winchester’s Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival prepared to turn 30 years old this weekend.
“I was worried this year because I know the economy has affected everything,” said Strode, who has been chairperson for the festival since its late ‘70s inception. “But we’ve actually picked up new money. Winchester is committed to this festival. Many of our non-profit and civic groups set up exhibits that weekend. But those groups are also the work force.
“I use one of the church groups to pick up trash. I use the football boosters to load and unload the sound equipment. The rescue squad helps with parking. We actually have a waiting list of people to come on board and help.”
The Boone Festival kicks off tonight with a 7 p.m. street dance and will continue through Sunday with a 5K run, talent contest and more than 100 vendors and exhibits. The event traditionally culminates in Lykins Park with a Sunday evening concert by a national country artist. The show has drawn as many as 10,000 patrons in past years.
In 2007, the Boone festival hit gold by presenting singer Rodney Atkins right as his These Are My People single hit No. 1. This year, the festival will serve up two newcomers: North Carolina singer Jason Michael Carroll, who hit the country Top 10 twice last year with Alyssa Lies and Livin’ Our Love Song, and Georgia native Luke Bryan of All My Friends Say fame. There will also a homecoming slant to Bryan’s set. His drummer, Kent Slucher, is a Winchester native.
“This is our weekend to shine,” Strode said. “Winchester is not a tourist destination. It’s kind of a pass-by. People are either going to Boonesborough or the Mountain Parkway or further down 64. As far as having a captive audience, this is it for us.”
The Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival begins tonight in Downtown Winchester. Jason Michael Carroll and Luke Bryan conclude the event at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Lykins Park. The Festival is free, although admission to the Sunday concert is $5. Call (800) 298-9105.