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Walnut Festival A Success

By Johnna Prater-RCC Council Member and Entertainment Director 2023

Saturday, September 30th was Royalton’s 5th Annual Walnut Festival! Each year the festival is brought to you by the Royalton Community Council. The council is made up of members and volunteers that live in the Royalton area and strive to provide community free fun and entertainment. The RCC is dedicated to provide education, arts and humanities and social activities in their community.

The DAV, including Judge/Executive Matthew Wireman, kicked off the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. with the flag presentation and prayer, followed by the national anthem sung by Zoe Howard. The bands commenced at this point, starting with Zoe Howard and the Yellow Line and the music did not stop ‘til around 10 p.m.

There were eight performances including six local bands/performers and two national award-winning bands. The bands throughout the day also included Eddie Prater and the Royalton Ramblers, Austin Reynolds and the Get Down Boys, Ricky Connelley, Ky True Grass, The Evans Brothers and Hwy 52, The Lonesome River Band and Terry Miller Band, who closed the stage down.

As a council member and this years entertainment director, it took me almost a year of planning for these bands to be assembled and scheduled to make the perfect line up, but by the end of the night all the work was well worth it because the all performances were amazing.

This fall music festival is much more than music alone. The council has incorporated something for everyone. This year there were many activities for all ages, including a kids activity area creek side with inflatables, pumpkin and face painting and they even built a kiddie train, all sponsored by Liberty Tech. Council President Karen Merritt, and members Richard and Whitney Love and their numerous friends and family that volunteered, worked very hard to make sure all the kids had something to enjoy.

For the older crowd, the Magoffin Youth Baseball and Softball league, led by Darrell Arnett, sponsored a cornhole tournament and it was a big hit this year, with many teams joining in for a chance to win that $100 prize. The 1st place winner of BYOP was Jamie Gayheart & Eddie Stacy, 2nd place Claude Miller & Chad Easterling, 3rd place John Mills and Christie Mills.Greg Salyer &Harold Auxier Jr, 2nd place Tim Fletcher & Eddie Stacy, 3rd place Greg Gambill & Alex Campbell. No matter if they placed or not, over a dozen teams had a really great time playing cornhole while listening to the bands.

The RCC annual car show, organized by council member Lester Prater and volunteer Robert May, was an extreme hit this year with over two dozen cars on display, all shined up and looking sharp for the show. Dinah Cordell won the best in show and best classic with her beautiful black Mustang and co-organizer and volunteer Marty Coffey won best modern with his custom yellow Jeep Wrangler. The car show was sponsored by Mann Toyota and trophies provided by Castle Jewelry of Paintsville. With great help from volunteer Carol Collinsworth, all car owners received a bag of car goodies, dash plate and chance to win prizes throughout the day, making it a really good time for all.

Big Sandy Health Care set up four tents and their new state-of-the-art mobile unit for the day, including black lung counselors, nurses that were checking A1C and blood pressure for anyone who wanted to stop by. They had Kynectors representatives available to help with signing up for medical insurance and answer questions for all who wanted to see what was available to them.

The 2013 Chevy Sonic that had been floating around the county since July was raffled off during the Lonesome River Band’s performance Saturday night. Lester Prater, who provided the car for the event, unsealed the ticket box live on stage by cutting the tape on the box open and put all the tickets in a big bucket while the crowd waited in great anticipation for that winning ticket to be drawn. Some people had left and come back just for the drawing. Once the tickets were ready, Lynli Miller, daughter of Terry Miller, pulled the name of Beverly Damron of Columbus, Ohio, out of over 1,000 tickets live on stage. Surprised and tickled, Bev and her husband, Phillip, had purchased the tickets for a chance to win the vehicle for their daughter Felicia, a vet tech with 5 children, who’s car had quit and was beyond repair about 2 weeks ago, so it definitely went back to Columbus Sunday morning to a very very happy recipient.

During the day’s entertainment, the RCC acknowledged Karen Merritt as one of the founding members and for all of her hard work and dedication to the council and her community with a snow globe of the RCC logo, designed by her son Chris. Both Chris and his brother, Nate, and family presented Karen with this small token of the council’s appreciation on stage. The council also presented plaques to the Judge/Executive Matt Wireman and Deputy Judge Kevin Howard and staff for their longtime support of both the council and the transformation of Half Mountain Park where all of the RCC events are held. The park has been developed over the last 5 years into one of the most beautiful parks in Eastern Kentucky and is perfect for the events and the public’s use.

Mortimer Media and Salyersville National Bank also received plaques for their continued support over the last 5 years and were accepted live on stage by Doug Mortimer and Danielle Bailey. Ritt Mortimer of Mortimer Media provided all the banners, flyers, and media promotion for RCC this year and in previous years. He and his parents, Doug and Sue, have always come to our rescue when we have called with anything we have needed and always support the community any way they can. Salyersville National Bank has also been very involved in the community and has supported RCC and our events since we started 5 years ago. We definitely wanted to let all three know they were a part of our group and our success.

If you were looking for a little shopping, council member and secretary Janice Rowe did and exceptional job recruiting and assembling vendors from all over the state to come in and sell their crafts and goods. There was nothing you could not find in the vast area of the park covered with some of the finest merchandise. The RCC even had an executive tent selling event t-shirts and numerous raffle tickets that was manned by council member Pam Lovely Fletcher, VP-Sherry Cooley Shepherd, and P-Karen Merritt all day. Please contact these RCC members about purchasing a t-shirt as there is about 10-12 left from the festival and will go fast, that you would look great wearing ‘til next year!

If you were more interested in something good to munch on, then you were not disappointed by the dozen or so food trucks P-Karen Merritt and VP-Sherry Cooley Shepherd with treasurer Marlene Howard had contracted and were in attendance Saturday. Everything to satisfy your sweet, salty or meaty craving was there. From deep fried to slow smoked to everything sweet, there was a vast assortment to choose from all around you on concession row.

The best part is having a perfect place to sit and comfortably eat your goodies. No trying to balance your food and drink while standing or sitting in a folding chair, at this festival! After you got your good food the Randall Risner pavillion with dozens of picnic tables made it very easy to sit and eat, talk and listen to all that was going on. Randall would be so proud and happy to know this was taking place and the vast amount of people that were coming to the park and enjoying themselves there.

At the end of this year’s festival, the chatter among council members, volunteers, visitors, bands and patrons was pretty unanimous. This year’s festival was the best yet by leaps and bounds. From the new stage and sound system to the exceptional performances and car show, all the delicious food and boundless shopping, the activities for all ages, and great community all around you, this festival just had it all. The weather was beautiful and the park was the perfect place for the event as well. I had very seasoned band members that have played all over the world tell me this was one of the best festivals with the nicest people and most beautiful area they have ever played.

I can not tell you how proud I am for my very little part in all of this and it will go down as one of the most memorable highlights of my life. My time as the entertainment director has been a privilidge and pleasure. The community goodwill was almost visable Saturday. The excitement all around elevated every person, young and old, in attendence. That is just something you do not get to wittness much anymore. I, myself, left the festival with an extra bounce in my step and very happy. But then, of course, I got to sing with the Lonesome River Band live on stage too, so that was a big check off my bucket list!

Thank you to everyone who sponsored, donated, attended, supported, volunteered, sold raffle tickets, made bake sale goodies, and helped in so many ways. Without you, none of this would be possible. The RCC looks forward to next years-6th Walnut festival and our Easter Festival this spring. Serving the Royalton and Eastern Kentucky area and seeing the smiles on the faces of all the people we touch with our events, this why we love what we do, and why we work very hard to make it the best we can for all.

Thank you: Ky Power AEP, Mortimer Media, Lester Prater, Liberty Tech, Big Sandy Health Care, Doug and Sue Mortimer, Salyerville National Bank, John Blanton, Foothills Telephone, Magoffin Funeral Home, Prater Drug and the Seasonal Shop, Minix Tire, Sherriffs office and deputies, District 3 Fire Department, Travis Joseph, Jeff Lovely, Jack Collins, Tonya Ward, Renea Shepherd, Bill and LeighAnn Meade, Becky Allen, Bill Harpers Garage, Baileys Furniture, Town and Country flower shop, Williams Electric, Camp Pizza, Pizza and More, Little Caesars Pizza, Advanced Auto, O’reilleys Auto, and Salyersville Hometown True Value, John Blanton, Buddies Produce, Josie Wireman Bailey, John and Leanne Patrick, Marty & Gayle Coffey, Krissy Risner, Debbie Lemaster of the HW Middle school, Andrea Parsons of the Magoffin H.S., Nick Stephens and Vince Minix of the Vocational School, Josh Puckett of Reds Wholesale, Manns Toyota, Peoples Bank, Richard Paxton & Terri Love, Sherry Risner, Brandon & Tasha Holiday, Shayla Poe, Stanley Shannon Risner, all friends, neighbors, and family that spent their time and money, and were so very supportive of all we did this year and in previous years as well.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Gary Simpkins jr

    October 17, 2023 at 1:03 am

    I’ll jet my agent know on them bands since they stuck in twilight zone

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