Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Frankort State Journal. June 11, 2021.

Editorial: Juneteenth should be a national holiday

Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, news of Black slaves’ freedom came at different times for those living in the American South. In fact, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — about two months after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered in Appomattox, Virginia — that Union Gen. Gordon Granger brought the news to African Americans in Galveston, Texas.

The original freedom celebration turned into an annual event and grew in popularity over the years to become Juneteenth — a holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S.

Texas became the first state to designate June 19 as a holiday in 1980. In the time since, 45 other states have officially marked the day. Yet, it wasn’t until 2005 that Kentucky recognized Juneteenth National Freedom Day to “encourage all Kentuckians celebrating this day to honor and reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in the history of the United States.”

Currently, there is a push to make Juneteenth a national holiday. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, has backed the cause, and several online petitions calling for the change are circulating.

Local organizations Josephine Sculpture Park and Focus On Race Relations Frankfort with Together Frankfort as supporting partner are urging Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Andy Barr to support HR 7232 — legislation that would make June 19 a national holiday. Together Frankfort has also enacted a resolution endorsing the measure and is encouraging other elected officials, groups and individuals to do the same.

We believe that June 19, 1865, was a significant day for African Americans and the history of our country and should be recognized as a holiday across the U.S. in the same way we mark another important independence day — July 4.

For those who want to know more about Juneteenth, the organizations have two events planned this month. “What is Juneteenth?” will be held virtually at 2 p.m. on June 19 on the Josephine Sculpture Park Facebook page and Frankfort Plant Board Cable 10. At 7 p.m., a roundtable discussion, poetry and music is scheduled at the Grand Theatre. Seats are limited and the event will be livestreamed on the theater’s Facebook page.

___

Somerset Commonwealth Journal. June 12, 2021.

Editorial: Foodstock heats up downtown summer event schedule

The promise of normality continued last weekend with the city of Somerset’s Foodstock event which drew 17 different food trucks in all-day event.

As we have said before in this space, no longer can you say Downtown Somerset is dead. Foodstock attracted an estimated 3,400 hungry folks from Pulaski County -- and beyond.

In short, it was good ole pre-COVID fun.

And we needed that.

Trucks and spirit booths offered a good mix of local favorites and new flavors from outside the Lake Cumberland area, as well as chain favorites like Chick-fil-A and Goldstar Chili. Food lovers could heat up with barbecue at Get Ur Smoke On then cool off with gelato or a unique brew from Cave Hill Wine-A-Rita.

In 2019, music didn’t begin into a few hours into the festival. This time, the Lake Cumberland Blues Society performed when the festival started at noon. Acts offered something for everyone -- ranging from bluegrass to jamming blues.

And there was no shortage of food. In 2019, some trucks sold out early. But this time, all were prepared.

While visitors came into town to feast, they also had the opportunity to experience regular weekend activities like the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market at the Citizens National Bank Pavilion.

It was simply a great day. And it was sponsored by Horse Soldier Bourbon -- an entity already making an impact on the area.

For a long time, Somerset felt stuck between its past and its potential. Folks of a certain age remember a time when the downtown area was bustling -- stores, movie theaters, restaurants aplenty. It was the place to be in Pulaski County. And those who live in larger cities like Lexington or Louisville are no stranger to street festivals and concerts -- or any other reason to go downtown that you could think of.

But in the days after the development of U.S. 27, as businesses relocated there en masse, Downtown Somerset withered. It lost its character, it lost its energy, and it lost its crowds. It knew neither the glory of its past or the potential of being a more populous urban area.

In recent years, that’s started to change -- Downtown Somerset has found its identity again. It’s no longer just “downtown Somerset,” it’s “Downtown Somerset” -- a destination in its own right. We were just starting to feel that momentum when things slowed to a standstill last year. This month’s “Foodstock” showed that it’s not impossible to get back on the right track.

Foodstock wasn’t the first Somerset festival since COVID -- that was the popular Moonlight Festival last October. But Foodstock does show promise of a return to more scheduled events on a regular basis downtown.

Coming up is Juneteenth and Sample of Somerset.

Come out and celebrate!

___

Bowling Green Daily News. June 11, 2021.

Editorial: Return of in-person festivals, events a welcome sight

Among the many unfortunate aspects of the coronavirus pandemic were cancellations of public events, including annual festivals and gatherings that are eagerly anticipated by many in the community. The absence of such events starkly demonstrated just how much they contribute to the overall character of our area.

The good news, though, is that the ongoing loosening or elimination of coronavirus-related restrictions is paving the way for the resumption of many traditional activities. In recent days, the Daily News has reported that two significant local events – the Bowling Green International Festival and Community Education’s Stand for Children Day – are back on the calendar for in-person engagements.

First up is the 23rd annual Stand for Children Day, set for 2 to 4 p.m. June 27 at Bowling Green Ballpark. The event – where vendors offer an assortment of attractions meant to raise awareness about issues pertaining to children – was canceled outright in 2020, but in previous years, the event has drawn more than 65 vendors and more than 1,000 children, growth that prompted a move from Kereiakes Park to the Bowling Green Hot Rods’ stadium. Organizers hope to see similar numbers this year.

“We are still figuring out exactly what (COVID-19) guidelines will be in play when event day arrives,” said Joshua Smith, Community Education’s volunteer and outreach coordinator. “But we are hoping it will be a fairly normal day this year.”

For more information on the event, contact Community Education at 270-842-4281 or visit their website at www.commed.us.

Meanwhile, after hosting an entirely virtual event in 2020, the International Festival will return to Circus Square Park on Sept. 25. Some aspects of the event will again be virtual, according to Executive Director Kim Mason, who also said current plans are to limit in-person capacity to 60%, though that could change as COVID guidelines change in coming months. The 31st edition of the festival will follow the format of past events, featuring three stages of traditional and modern music and dance performances, authentic foreign foods, an international bazaar and “edu-tainment” activities.

Mason said as many as 15,000 people have attended previous years’ events, and that 30 different cultures will be represented. For more information, visit www.BGInternationalFest.com or follow the group for updates on social media.

We encourage the Bowling Green and Warren County residents to get out and support these events and organizations, as well as the many others that will be resuming normal activities in the wake of the coronavirus shutdowns. With robust attendance at such gatherings, our community will finally begin to feel like itself again.

END