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Daniel Boone epitomizes our ideal of the American Pioneer. Rough and ready, clad in buckskin breeches, he was an
adventurer, eager to explore what lay beyond the next rise. He played a major roll in the exploration and settlement of
Kentucky. Others may have reached the area before Boone, but his legend and his image endure to this day. (A few
movies and a TV show about Boone haven't hurt either...)
Boone was born in Pennsylvania in the year 1734, among Quakers and later lived in North Carolina. Part of the restless generation of men who set out to get beyond the Appalachians, he made it through the Cumberland Gap for the first time in 1769. The Gap is a natural passage through the Cumberland Mountains, known first to Native Americans. With his brother Squire, Daniel remained in the region for two years.
Between 1769 and 1771, he explored eastern Kentucky following a trail through the Gap. In 1775, Boone was engaged by a Carolina trading company to establish a road whereby future settlers could reach Kentucky. The trail is what became known as the Wilderness Road.
In America, we love our festivals and we love the pioneer spirit. Combining them both, the first Daniel Boone Festival
was held in Barbourville, Kentucky, back in 1948. It's been going strong since and is the oldest continuous festival in the state.
The event was the brainchild of a professor at Union College and was sponsored by the senior class under his
leadership. The largest crowd ever to assemble in Barbourville was on hand to take part in the festivities that year. The festival more than met their expectations. Of course, coonskin caps and flint lock rifles were the order of the day. The pioneer parade was an especially big hit. In the early days, goats, hound dogs, oxen and wagons paraded up the streets.
Today, the festival has activities for the whole family. Besides the parade, there will be plenty of arts & crafts, food
booths, music and a carnival for the younger set. Pioneer activities, such as a muzzle loading gun demonstration and
period re-enactments are also included. Famous visitors have attended the festival over the years, such as Aunt Jemima, Loretta Lynn, Miss America 1964, and Col. Harland Sanders.
The town of Barbourville grew up along the Wilderness Road and it recalls the pioneer heritage every fall with this
special tribute to the spirit of Boone. The festival takes place during the first full week of October, this year from October 1-7. For more information call 1-606-546-6192.