By Johnna Prater
Royalton Community Council
The Royalton Community Council once again has hosted this year’s Walnut Festival. The council members are: Karen Merritt, Johnna Arnett Prater, Marlene Howard, Janice Rowe, Pam Coleman, Sherry Cooley- Shepherd, Whitney Lovely and Clay Herd. The council was formed in 2019 and has grown in its members every year. It has been an interesting and wonderful four years for all of us that have been there since the beginning and we have learned a lot. The 4th annual Walnut Festival went well this year. There were people from as far away as Indiana and Michigan that attended the festival. Each year our county fall festival has grown, but this year we hosted about 700 people, making it three times bigger than last year, and we were ready.
The festival has changed dramatically since last year, with one big change with our Cruisin’ Car Show, and the car show was a great success. We had 21 vehicles registered in the show of all years, makes, and vehicle types. The Royalton Community Council gave dash plates out to each registered vehicle, and provided trophies to the winner in each category: Classic, Modern and Best in show. In the modern category Marty Coffey took the trophy for his 2019 Jeep Wrangler and Mike Miller took the trophy in both classic and best in show for his 1969 Camaro. There were numerous prize drawings throughout the day for the people who attended and registered their cars. All in all, each of the 21 vehicles were showstoppers and a great treat for all to come and see. Thank you to everyone who brought a vehicle or two out this year and hope you enjoyed yourselves and will come back with more next year!
Another addition this year was the cornhole tournament that the Magoffin County Youth Baseball League hosted. This is our first year having the cornhole tournament and was happy to let the league come out and put it on. Billy Elkins won first place at the cornhole tournament and Billy and Bryston Butcher came in second. We will definitely have our tournament next year for more people to come out and play.
Alongside cornhole, we were able to get some face painting and pumpkin painting going for the kids. Lots of faces throughout the day sported kitties, butterflies, and tigers. There were also many pumpkins that had some interesting faces as well at the end of the day. Some were mesmerized by the animals at our petting zoo. The petting zoo has been a favorite addition for a couple of years now and, once again, it was a crowd pleaser. Young and old were able to find a great deal to do and see this year at the festival. The activities and the people who volunteered to make them happen and keep them going all day long are so appreciated by the council and truly made our festival better than ever this year.
For the shopper and the hungry, this year was definitely our best as we had about 4 dozen food trucks and product vendors. Whether you wanted Pampered Chef Products, local honey, handmade crafts, walnut earrings, pork rinds, cheesecake, or tamales, we had it all. The local vendors brought their finest products and arts to the festival. The food trucks ranged from funnel cakes to tacos to BBQ. Whatever you were craving, between sweet, savory, and comfort food it was all there. I, myself as a vendor selling walnut breads, had a front row seat to everyone’s plates as they walked by to enjoy their goodies under the wonderful Randal Risner picnic shelter. This really was making it hard to choose what to try since it all looked so good. The feedback from all was that it tasted as good as it looked! Our vendors and food trucks made our festival what it was and we appreciate and thank you all for coming out and working so hard to provide all the products, food and drinks for our patrons.
Although we have had great entertainment at all our prior festivals over the past few years, this year was a banner year with a lineup you would see at the big festivals. We started the day at 11 with our Veterans opening ceremony and flag presentation followed by our national anthem sung by Erin Rudd. Local bands from our county and surrounding areas performed throughout the day. We heard great music, bluegrass to rock from these bands all day. The lineup included: Erin Grace Rudd, 2 Lanes Home, Eddie Prater & Royalton Ramblers, Dewey Moore and Friends, Troy Carlois and Band, The 606 sound, and the Terry Miller Band. The local bands are a favorite for many of our patrons and lots of them danced all day long to the music!
In the evening we kicked off things with our showcase bands. Black Powder Express sponsored by Magoffin Foods Doug and Sue Mortimer/Mortimer Media, started our evening followed by the outstanding Evans brothers and Highway 52. The great Don Rigsby shut down the festival around 8:30 with a very impressive performance. The crowd left fully entertained, bellies full and with bags overflowing with free goodies and local treasures.
With just under a year of planning for this festival, the Royalton Community Council was very pleased at the end of the evening with their efforts. As with all young festivals there is always room for improvement of hiccups and changes that will have to be made, but overall, it was a great festival with a lot of great people coming out to enjoy what the Walnut Festival had to offer this year. As always, the festival is free to the public, with free and very accessible parking, and the council will strive to keep it that way in the years to come.
The festival would not be possible without the continued support from the people, businesses and organizations that donate to it. Along with our Easter festival in the spring also held at the Half Mountain Battlefield Park, the money is all locally raised and donated. In years to come we believe that these events will be some of the area’s finest. At this time I would like to thank the following for their continued support with monetary donations as well as door prizes and supplies: Foothills RTS, Salyersville National Bank, Citizens National Bank, Peoples bank, Frontier Gas, Magoffin foods Doug and Sue Mortimer, Mann Toyota, Josie Bailey, Jeff Lovely, Logan Corp, Renee Arnett, Becky Allen, Jack Collins, David Neil Howard, Bryan Montgomery, Heritage Pharmacy, Mortimer Media Group, Parkway Pharmacy, Jesse and Rebekah Rudd, Dennis Prater, Pat Frazier, Prater Drugs, Bill Harper, Williams Electric, DQ, Prohibition Coffee, Buddy’s Produce, Tractor Supply of Paintsville, Walmart, Food City, Judge Executive Matt Wireman, County Attorney Greg Allen, Incoming County Attorney Travis Joseph, Big Sandy Health Care(Hope Medical), VIP, Speedys, Little Caesars, Advance Auto, Salyersville Funeral Home, Thomas Rice, Baileys Furniture, Baileys Carpet, B&B tobacco, Farmhouse Diner, Adis Williams and many more. May you be blessed for your kindness and know that the crowd enjoyed the day.
The Half Mountain Park is large enough to accommodate thousands of people. The park has permanent restrooms, a new state-of-the-art playground, and plenty of parking. Located across from the South Magoffin Elementary School, it is far enough from town but close enough to make it the perfect location. Our County Judge Executive Matt Wireman and Deputy Judge Kevin Howard have strived to make this park the best they can with improvements and additions all the time and we are looking forward to the completion of our new stage and the plans to further improve the park with many other additions in the future.
The Royalton Community Council is so proud to have the opportunity to serve the people of our county and all of Eastern Kentucky. We look forward to planning many more spring and fall festivals for you all in the future. We would like to invite more people in our community to join our council. Message us on Facebook if you are. We haven’t sent a regular date to meet.
We just meet when we all can get together to make plans. So, keep an eye on us this spring and next fall. Until then enjoy the upcoming Holiday season!