When COVID-19 Breaks, Travel Awaits

We here at Pike County Tourism CVB are optimistic that, when the COVID-19 pandemic breaks, people are going to be more than ready to get out and travel again. As you probably could imagine, the tourism industry is taking a massive hit due to the coronavirus, and when the tourism industry hurts, everyone hurts. Because of the hard work that Pike County Tourism CVB has done over the past several years, and the partnerships that we have been blessed to be involved in, 2020 was poised to be another record-breaking year for tourist spending in Pike County. But, the world can be unpredictable at times, and we are staying positive during all of this. As our governor says, “we will get through this together”. So, while we are in quarantine, awaiting this day to come, let’s go over some interesting attractions to plan for. What else do you have to do?

When COVID-19 Breaks, Let’s Head for the Breaks

Photo by Chuck Summers

Despite healthcare professionals urging people to go outside for some sunshine and fresh air (but still maintaining social distancing), the fear surrounding this pandemic is keeping many people locked indoors. So, we predict that once COVID-19 breaks, people will flock to one of our many beautiful outdoor attractions. Pike County has no shortage of them, with places like Grants Branch Park in Stone, Kentucky, to the Lick Creek Horse Trail, and one of our most prized gems, Breaks Interstate Park.

Breaks Park features everything an outdoor enthusiast loves, from rustic hiking trails, to biking, rock climbing, and more sight seeing than you can shake a stick at. Known as “the Grand Canyon of the South”, everyone who visits the Breaks should check out their Rhododendron restaurant for dining that overlooks this 5-mile, 1650 feet deep gorge. The Breaks also offers Elk Viewing Tours, and boasts of a 100% success rate in seeing Elk. We’ll all need to reconnect with nature after being cooped up for so long.

Let’s Get Back Together with Pike County Cruise-Ins

Our Pike County commissioners have been very active in supporting tourism in our county, and have provided invaluable support for us to do what we do best. One tourism initiative that has came about over the past year is the establishment of Pike County Cruise-ins. Although independent car clubs have been hosting amazing cruise-ins for years, it was the desire of the commission, as well as Pike County Tourism CVB, to promote a series of Pike County Cruise-ins that bring folks together from different clubs, and to attract car enthusiasts from all over. Cruise-ins give us the opportunity to not only check out killer hot rods and classic cars, but also to reconnect with one another. Each Pike County Cruisers event features food vendors, ice cream, a swap meet (no yard sale items please), and free dash plaques for the first 100 visitors. This event is normally scheduled for the 3rd Sunday of each month, April through September, but as is true with every event, we will have to wait and see when the first Cruisers meet will happen this year.

Catch a Show at our Local Theatres

Artists Collaborative Theatre
Photo by Larry Epling

One thing we all miss is going to the theatre. Whether it’s a movie theatre, or a theatre for the performing arts, being without such experiences is excruciating for many of us. Whenever this thing breaks, our local theatres will be ready to entertain, with a variety of shows for all walks of life to enjoy.

Pike County is blessed to have two amazing theatres for the performing arts, Artists Collaborative Theatre and The Appalachian Center for the Arts, or “The App” for short. Artists Collaborative Theatre has suffered its own setbacks as of late, with their building burning down not too long ago. However, the show must go on, and they will be showcasing productions at the Breaks Interstate Park until a new facility is built.

The App will be hosting several productions later this year, beginning with The Cleverlys, which has been rescheduled from their May 1st date to June 4th. Later this year, more amazing productions are scheduled for the App, such as The Marvelous Wonderettes, The Kevin Prater Band, Sleep in Safety: The Legend of Octavia Hatcher (their highly anticipated October production), and so much more. Check out the Appalachian Center for the Arts page for details.

Let’s not forget the Appalachian Wireless Arena, which has several great shows planned for the second half of the year. Steve Miller Band with special guest Marty Stuart is scheduled for July 22nd, The Price is Right is scheduled for July 26, with Poison performing on August 8th, Toby Keith performing August 14th and Lynyrd Skynyrd performing September 10th.

Hank Williams Jr., a concert that was scheduled to headline the now cancelled (but may be rescheduled) Hillbilly Days, is now scheduled for October 23.

Part of what helps us cope with the current circumstances is knowing that we are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our community, and looking forward to the day that we can again welcome visitors to our beautiful region to enjoy the many great things our community has to offer. Until then, making travel plans is certainly a good way to pass the time. If you have questions, or need help planning your Pike County getaway, feel free to reach out to us here.

Photo Blog Series: Beautiful Pike County, KY – Jeffery Justice

We continue our photo blog series “Beautiful Pike County, KY” with a sampling of photographer Jeffery Justice’s excellent camera work. Justice has dedicated his career to supporting economic growth in Eastern Kentucky, serving as a business and innovation champion at SOAR Innovation, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting innovation-driven small businesses and entrepreneurs in Appalachia Kentucky.

Justice has also worked in the area of tourism in Eastern Kentucky by capturing some of the many amazing events Pikeville-Pike County has hosted over the years. Justice has a knack for capturing the human experience in his photography, with a visual impact that tells a story all its own. Be sure to check out his gallery below, and reach out to him if you are looking for photography commissions.

Jeffery Justice Gallery

Jeffery Justice

Feel free to reach out to Justice for commission requests.

Subjects:  Nature, Architecture, CultureTourism
E-mail: Click here
Phone: 859-779-8282

5 “Social Distancing” Friendly Things to Do in Pikeville/Pike County, KY

Photo taken by Mary Reed Runyon near Nolan WV at the Martin County/Pike County, KY border.

Due to increased regulations concerning COVID-19, Pike County Parks has been temporarily shut down.

Given our current situation in dealing with COVID-19, community members and visitors are becoming increasingly more afraid of going outside, let alone traveling. While Kentucky governor Andy Beshear has been adamant that Kentuckians and our visitors take the utmost precautions in limiting contact with others, small groups gatherings, and so forth, he, along with the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism also realize the potential ramifications of total seclusion. Complete quarantine (locking yourself in your house) is not advisable for those who show no signs of illness, and can, in fact, have negative mental health consequences.

So what can you do for recreation while also being responsible? Here are five suggestions for “social distancing” friendly things to do in Pikeville/Pike County, Kentucky. Keep in mind that these suggestions are subject to any mandates made by the local, state and federal government concerning COVID-19.

1) Cruisin’ Pike County’s Winding, Wonderful Roads

Way back in the day, Crusin’ was a highlight for families on a Sunday afternoon, or love birds who just wanted to enjoy some alone time together. With gas prices being at an all-time low, it’s time to load up the family, or take your special someone on a cruise through the winding, beautiful mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Just about anywhere you go in Pike County, there is roads that go through breathtaking scenery. Parks such as Breaks Interstate Park, Jenny Wiley State Park, or Grants Branch Park in Stone, Kentucky make perfect stopping points for lunch or dinner.

2) Enjoy the Great Outdoors with Our Lakes and Parks

Photo by Chuck Summers

Speaking of Lakes and Parks, the great outdoors gives you plenty of social distancing and alone time to gather your thoughts. There are a wealth of stress relieving activities that you can do in our beautiful parks, such as hiking, biking, fishing, sight-seeing and more. As mentioned above, Breaks Interstate Park, Jenny Wiley State Park, and Grants Branch Park are all excellent choices for going on an adventure. 

3) Take A Stroll Down Historic Downtown Pikeville

Sometimes you just need to take a calm, peaceful walk. Historic Downtown Pikeville is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll, featuring the Pikeville City Park, the Pikeville Lake (also a perfect spot for fishing), a swinging bridge, and several mom-and-pop restaurants that offer take out and curb-side. While in the City Park, remember to practice social distancing (6 feet), and take the opportunity to wash your hands thoroughly in the restroom facilities. Downtown Pikeville and the nearby bypass road are very popular locations for 5k runs, so instead of barring yourself in your house, maybe some exercise is just what you need.

Fallen Officers Memorial, Downtown Pikeville, KY

4) Dine out with Curb Side & Carry Out

During this difficult time, it is important that we support our locally owned restaurants. It can be easy to get caught up in all these headlines and forget to support the businesses that enrich our community. Many of our locally owned restaurants offer take-out and curb side delivery of lunch and dinner. Our mom-and-pops are counting on us, and who doesn’t love the unique and delicious flavor they bring?

5) Horseback Riding at the Pike County Horse Trail

Pike County Horse Trail in Lick Creek, KY

Have a horse? We have the trail for you. Located in Lick Creek, the Pike County Horse Trail provides you all the social distancing you need with a relaxing ride through the ruggedly gorgeous mountains of Pike County. With a rustic camping area for parking your hauler, as well as a public restroom for keeping those hands washed, the Pike County Horse Trail has everything that you need to enjoy a ride through the Appalachian mountains.

We here at Pike County Tourism CVB are optimistic that the COVID-19 pandemic will pass, and many of our cancelled events will be rescheduled for a later date. In the meantime, we encourage you to do all you can to be safe and responsible, and to be sure to get the exercise your mind, body and soul needs during this stressful time.  

Note: Please follow local, state and federal guidelines for travel before participating in any of the above suggested activities.

(Live Update) Pike County Event Cancellations Due to COVID-19

Pike County Tourism CVB would like to reassure visitors and community members that we are working diligently in monitoring event cancellations due COVID-19 precautions. Many of these events are likely to be rescheduled for a later date, which will be made known on our Pike County Events feed. If you have and travel questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us on our Contact Us page. Ticket refunds may be offered by the event organizers/venues for these events. Reach out to the respective venues for refunds.

Current Event Cancellations/Rescheduled Events

Event cancelled. May be rescheduled for Fall (TBA).
The March event has been cancelled.
This event has been cancelled.
Rescheduled for Sunday, July 26, 2020
Event postponed.

Event cancelled.

Event cancelled.

Event cancelled.

Event rescheduled for October 23, 2020
Event cancelled.
Event cancelled.

Event postponed (date TBA).

Jimmy Wolford: A Man Who Matched the Mountains

Written by Ron McCoy and Pike County Tourism CVB

The Tug Valley has lost one of its brightest stars, as singer/songwriter Jimmy Wolford has passed away on March 5th, 2020. Wolford was also known as a storyteller, and one of the region’s pioneers in reviving the Hatfield McCoy heritage, which has drawn the interest of people from all across the globe.

Wolford recognized the importance of the tourism industry in Eastern Kentucky early on, seeing the value of the famous Hatfields and McCoys heritage long before most were willing to even come to terms with the history. Wolford knew that people from all around the world were enthralled with feud history and dedicated himself to providing a narrative for the story that was not only authentic, but also entertaining.

Wolford told the story of the Hatfield-McCoy feud in song, producing an album titled “The Hatfields And The McCoys: The Great Vendetta”. This album features Appalachian folk music that showcases Wolford’s unique storytelling flair in a style that reflects the culture. One track in particular, “Men Who Matched The Mountains”, highlighted the challenging environment that the Hatfields and McCoys were thriving in, offering a clearer illustration of who these people were; not savages, but people surviving in the mostly lawless, post-Civil War Appalachian mountains of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Snippets from Wolford’s album are also featured on the wildly popular “Hatfields & McCoys Historic Feud Driving Tour” audio CD, which serves as an audio guide for one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions.

For more than 40 years, Wolford served as an ambassador for the “Hatfields and McCoys”, carrying the feud story with him wherever he went, across the country and around the world. Passionate about his heritage, he was also a role model for the power of grace and forgiveness. Nevertheless, telling the feud story wasn’t always easy. Growing up as a McCoy descendant in Williamson, WV in the 1930s, Wolford knew the feud was not something the McCoys were willing to discuss. 

As a child, Jimmy recalled asking his grandmother about the feud. “Son, that’s something we don’t talk about,” said Wolford. “I went to Grandpa and I said, “Grandpa, tell me about the Hatfields and McCoys.” And he said, “We don’t talk about the Hatfields and McCoys.” As a musician on the campaign trail with Hubert Humphrey in the 1960s, Jimmy was often prompted by the Senator to discuss the feud. “He would say, Jimmy, tell me about the Hatfields and McCoys. I said, we don’t talk about that.” When Humphrey introduced him to the Prime Minister of England in 1971, Jimmy gave the same answer he always did: “We don’t talk about that.”

After the campaign trail, Wolford returned home to his roots, determined to tell the feud story in a way that had never been done. He partnered with songwriters Larry Johnson and Bob Stanley and spent three years researching the feud. Wolford was not content to telling the “McCoy” side of the story alone, however. He met with Willis Hatfield, last surviving son of “Devil Anse” and Dr. Henry D. Hatfield, “Devil Anse’s” nephew, and was impressed by their empathy. “They hurt for Roseanna McCoy. They hurt for Devil Anse and Ellison and them. They hurt for each other. (The feud) was something that occurred that did not have to happen, but it did,” said Wolford. His classic album, The Great Vendetta released in 1976 became the definitive musical retelling of the feud.

Wolford’s contributions to preserving feud history extended beyond music. In 1975, Wolford was concerned about the deteriorating state of the McCoy Cemetery in Hardy, KY.  He enlisted the help of businessmen Joe “Tab” McCoy and Leonard “Mix” McCoy, owners of the McCoy Caney Coal Company in Phelps, KY. The McCoys cleaned up the cemetery and purchased an $8000 granite memorial for the site, manufactured by the Hatfield Monument Company in Sarah Ann, WV.  The six-foot long monument in the shape of an open Bible featured a quote from one of Wolford’s songs: “There is no secret why they died so young; pride took control – youth’s song was never sung.” 

Wolford was also influential in the publication of Truda McCoy’s book, The McCoys: Their Story. After her passing, Truda’a son Paul was determined to see that the book manuscript was printed. Paul contacted Wolford to enlist his help in finding a publisher. Wolford carried the manuscript with him in the trunk of his car for nearly two years. Finally, “Tab” and “Mix” pointed Wolford in the direction of Pikeville College and the capable guidance of Dr. Leonard Roberts. The book was printed in 1976.

In 1979, Wolford led the “McCoys” to take on the “Hatfields” in a five episode series of the game show, “Family Feud.” It was the first joint-appearance of the Hatfields and McCoys on a nationwide broadcast and it showed the camaraderie that existed between the families.  During the show, Wolford presented a copy of the Great Vendetta album to host Richard Dawson. The McCoys would go on to win the series after a corrected cash total allowed the family to win by $1.

At the first national reunion of the families in Pikeville, KY in 2000, Wolford was the recipient of the first “Real McCoy” award, given for his decades of tireless service to preserving feud heritage. Twenty years later, his message to the families remains remarkably relevant:  “Don’t ever let anybody say anything bad about a Hatfield because you’re a McCoy. Vice versa. Don’t say anything bad about a McCoy because you are a Hatfield. Because that’s the way it started.” 

Being a McCoy descendant, Wolford inspired other McCoys to not only explore their history, but also come to terms with it. “What a life, yet Jimmy remained grounded and always promoted the Tug Valley in a dignified impartial way,” said McCoy descendant Eddie McCoy. “I am glad I got to meet him because he was probably the first McCoy who still lived in the area that I contacted back when I was a kid and the feud had been less in the public eye than it is now. He was always respectful towards the Hatfield family and that attitude was one I modeled myself after whenever I interacted with the Hatfields myself.”

“Jimmy has always been one of my heroes,” said Ron McCoy, great-great-great grandson of Randolph McCoy. “He was out promoting our family history when it wasn’t always popular to talk about the feud. It was his mission to preserve our heritage and he did so in a way that was positive and affirming. He never failed to reach out to Hatfields and McCoys alike. Jimmy has been a role model for all of us who have tried to carry on after him. Jimmy Wolford was one of a kind.”

Jimmy Wolford Songs & Media

Media Article

https://www.williamsondailynews.com/news/tug-valley-singer-jimmy-wolford-dies-at-age/article_c7f8b4e6-ab42-54be-a6be-e61b9a344063.html