Ingredients To Help Revitalize Hazard Include Hard Work And A Lot Of Fun
A diverse group of kids and adults in Hazard joined hands and circled to the right in the courtyard of the Art Station on Main Street on a Wednesday evening this summer.
Lindsey Branson captured the monthly summer celebration of Appalachian festivities on video for the Appalachian Arts Alliance.
Traditional Arts Education Director at the Hindman Settlement School Sarah Kate Morgan said the event is called Appalachian Folk Nights and happens one Wednesday a month.
“Hindman Settlement School, joined forces with Tim Deaton and the folks at the Appalachian Arts Alliance in Hazard to put together a series of dances and community gatherings this summer centered around celebrating Appalachian traditions and the community that forms around our Appalachian traditions,” explained Morgan.
Soup beans and cornbread provided by Executive Director of the Appalachian Arts Alliance, Tim Deaton were included in the celebration. Deaton said the event was developed specifically to celebrate Appalachian heritage and culture.
“And the reason that we want to do that and celebrate that is because a lot of that culture is dying away as their generations pass. We want to continue introducing new generations, and reintroducing people to those experiences, and those foods, that music, the dance, the crafts. And how people in Appalachia needed things but they didn’t have access to it from the other parts of the world as easily back in those days. And so, 'what did Appalachians do'? They put their brains and hands to work and they created those things. And they created entertainment,” said Deaton.
Yoko Nogami has lived in Jeremiah, Kentucky for about two years. Nogami said she traveled about 30 minutes to get to Hazard and is glad she did.
“Well, the food was fantastic. It’s traditional, soup beans and cornbread. And there was some kind of pie that was amazing. Downtown Hazard and Perry County has been kind of really revitalizing making it really cool down there,” reported Nogami.
Tim Deaton affirms what Nogami is seeing. He’s part of a team working tirelessly to make a change in Appalachia. His office is located in a former Grey Hound Bus Station that is now called the Art Station. He says tap, ballet, guitar lessons, plays, and Appalachian Folk Nights are just some of the activities bringing families downtown. But he adds there’s so much more going on thanks to several people who’ve been working hard. The revitalization to him means hope.
“We’ve just had it rough here the past decade or more. So now it’s our chance to create and to bring back the Queen City of the Mountains. Hazard, to put that crown back on top of it. And to create a place that we can be proud of as a region. To have a place where people want to come to for tourism, for entertainment, for arts, for culture, for good books, for a good cup of coffee,” said Deaton.
Bailey Richards is the Downtown Coordinator for the city of Hazard. She said the hardcore revitalization has been going on the last few years.
“Since 2018 we have seen over 30 new businesses open in our downtown area. We’re a population of 5000 and we’ve got 30 new businesses in the last three years, in just our downtown, not including out into the further reaches of the city and county,” said Richards.
Richards said Hazard already had banks, government offices, attorneys and accountants. She said now some of the new businesses inspire people to come down just for fun.
For now, the fun will continue with the next Appalachian Folk Nights scheduled for September 22. The courtyard opens at 6:30. Tim Deaton says they will refrain from square dancing this time due to COVID but there will be music, food, and crafts. And Sarah Kate Morgan hopes the evening ends with a song like last time. She’ll probably be the one to record it, just like she did last time.