CALVERT CITY — It began with a ball and dinner that attracted more than 240 at Kentucky Dam Village State Park Convention Center on Thursday evening. It closed with a rousing pyrotechnic display behind the Calvert City Civic Center on Sunday night — the Fourth of July.
It was Calvert City’s four-day celebration of its sesquicentennial anniversary and the return of AmeriBration on Independence Day after missing a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calvert City was incorporated 150 years ago in 1871, and though it’s major observance is history, the community will host smaller events throughout the remainder of 2021.
At the ball Mayor Gene Colburn and Marketing Director Blair Travis presented numerous awards including the Luther Draffen Award, the Lynn Jones Award, the Potilla Calvert Award and the Lee Cox Award. The oldest business citation went to Draffen’s Industrial Supply owned by the family of the late James Luther Draffen. The business is a continuation of the small Draffen’s Farm Supply business founded by the late George Luther Draffen, father of James Luther, in 1906. He was 16 years. And on Saturday, retired Fire Chief Fred Ross won Best Overall in the “World Class Beard Contest.” His father, the late Sam Ross, won Prettiest Beard in the same competition 50 years ago during the city’s centennial observance.
Travis said the celebration has been uppermost in the minds of city leaders for nearly two years.
“When I first started (working) for the city, Mayor Lynn Jones came into my office and said: ‘We need to start planning the 150th birthday of Calvert City soon.’ I thought ... ‘That’s in 2021 — forever away,’ ” she said at the ball’s opening ceremony. “Boy, I’m glad we started early, because with 150 events in 2021, we needed that extra year of planning.”
Police Chief David Elliott estimated 30,000 people were here over the weekend, more on Saturday than Sunday. They attended concerts, played games, took carnival rides, visited a historical museum and viewed a 57-minute documentary on the city founding and growth. One volunteer staffer estimated 1,000 people visited the museum and viewed the documentary at the Civic Center on Saturday alone. Her son estimated another 1,000 or more visited the same venue on Sunday.
As the Fourth of July celebration in this sesquicentennial year neared its finale, Travis reflected on the work that went into the event over the last two years.
“Planning the sesquicentennial gave me an opportunity to meet so many residents of the community,” she said. “I listened to their stories, looked at their photos, and together we created a museum. I think we came up with something very special. Families enjoyed themselves and I hope people walked away knowing a little bit more about Calvert City’s history.”
“At one point in the evening on Saturday, I had a quiet moment to reflect on the event,” Travis added. “Lynn handpicked individuals to serve on the sesquicentennial committee and each one of those members had a purpose. Our public works department worked endlessly to keep the parks looking beautiful and all of our volunteers put in many hours of planning and many hours of working this weekend. I don’t think I would have changed one thing about this event. It’s one for the history books.
“When I looked around at the event, one word came to mind: ‘Community,’ ” Travis said. “I could feel the community in the park this weekend. I could see the community-spirit. … Seeing all the golf carts and people in the park really brought a sense of normalcy to our city. We needed this, especially after a year of being apart.”
“From Thursday through Sunday, I think it was a well-planned event,” Colburn said. “I’ve had nothing but positive comments from the people who came. The entire event was well attended and well received. There was lots of hard work from our various volunteers. I think it’s good that we’ve been working on it so long. The enthusiasm — I think it was just a wonderful celebration of where Calvert City has been, and an appreciation for the achievements that our forefathers, the folks who cared about Calvert City before us, had and the visions of where we are going. I think we showcased our town.”
Here’s a list of winners of the different competitions during the celebration:
Calvert City’s World-Class Beard contest winners
Best Mustache — Nathan Brandon
Best Overall — Fred Ross
Longest Beard — Craig Christina Freeman
Best Looking — Anthony Albriton
Scruffiest Beard — Steven Draffen
Best 150 Calvert City Beard (Must have shaved beard on Feb.2 and grown for 150 days) — Chris Reed
Yankee Doodle Diaper Dash
1st Place — Riley Kate, parents — Abbey and Colby Blackburn of Calvert City
2nd Place — Maya Simmons, parents — Idalia and Will Simmons of Symsonia
Beards and Bonnets Golf Scramble
Day 1 Winner at Calvert City Golf & Country Club — Bill and Pat Kunnecke
Day 1 Winner Kentucky Dam Village — Scott Shelton & Jeremy Powell
Runner Up — Brian & Michelle Hodge
Over All Winner — Bill & Pat Kunnecke