The Laurel County Fair wound down last weekend and for me, it was a week filled with outstanding musical entertainment.
Thunderstruck stormed into town on Thursday night with their AC/DC tribute that always brings in a large crowd. Although my ears were ringing and I was struggling to hear after standing in front of those huge speakers all night, I always enjoy their show that brings back memories of my younger days. Ditto for Saturday night's show featuring The System, a tribute band to the music of Bob Seger. For the 'oldies' of the music world when music was truly music and words had meaning without vulgarity in both verbal and physical motions, Bob Seger was the crooner of true rock and roll. "Turn the Page" remains a classic for nearly anyone of any age, while "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" will always be a theme song for those of us who lived the age of classic rock.
Friday night brought my debut listening experience of My Finest Hour that features my friend, Chuck Stuber. Chuck has been in several bands, most recently as songwriter and guitarist for "Yesterday's Wine." My Finest Hour blew onto the stage, opening with Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You" and immediately capturing the audience's attention. A series of other popular rock songs included artists such as Duran Duran, Bad Co. and Eddie Money. And for those who know Chuck but haven't seen him on stage, you are missing out on a show within a show. Fortunately, those who missed the county fair performance have a second chance on the local front to catch My Finest Hour at the Laurel County Homecoming next month. That group, along with 8 Days Sober and local bands County Wide and Frontier will headline the musical portion of the 84th celebration of the tradition that launched all other local festivals and celebrations.
While both the county fair and the World Chicken Festival come in with a lot of fanfare, the Laurel County Homecoming is a quieter event nestled between the two. It is not intended for the hoopla that other festivals bring - instead it offers a more relaxing and historical event that was originated by a Laurel County native about Laurel County. While gospel music - like all other things - has seen its share of changes over the years, the gospel singing is the staple that Russell Dyche established in 1935. Although the core of the yearly August celebration, the Sunday singing service winds down the annual celebration each year.
Such large scale events are only successful for two reasons - the dedicated efforts of those who work hard to plan and budget to provide the people of this and surrounding counties with quality events and entertainment they may not otherwise be able to enjoy. Most of those involved with the events give countless hours of their time on a voluntary basis simply because they care about their community and want to see it grow. The citizens of this area should be grateful for the diligence of those willing and caring souls and participate and attend the events. Homecoming is free - free parking, free admission. Spending a few dollars for the food and craft vendors is a small price to pay for those who have gone out of their way to ensure a successful event for anyone wishing to enjoy it.
We are so fortunate here in Laurel County that we have not one festival each summer, but three. Few communities can boast of such success. London, Kentucky hosts its own, Col. Sanders, with the Chicken Festival in September - coined as one of the Top 10 festivals in the state. The Laurel County Fair is one of the few such events in southeast Kentucky. And Homecoming celebrates the heritage of the community.
It is a personal choice whether to attend any of these events. But speaking from past experience, it sure makes the organizers and planners feel good when any event is successful. Although their work might be completely voluntary, the reward in knowing you have put forth an effort is just as rewarding as a paycheck.