Department of Parks
Lily May Ledford Music & Heritage Festival Is Sept. 12
SLADE, Ky. -- The Second Annual Lily May Ledford Music & Heritage Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Gladie Historic Site and at Natural Bridge State Resort Park in the beautiful Red River Gorge.
The U.S. Forest Service and Natural Bridge State Resort Park are hosting the festival, with funding provided by the Powell County Tourism Commission and the Kentucky Arts Council.
The free festival honors Lily May Ledford, a master musician born in Powell County who grew up in the Gorge. Its purpose is to preserve and honor the rich cultural heritage of the area.
This festival celebrates the life and music of Lily May Ledford and the Coon Creek Girls, the first all-girl string band in radio. Lily May Ledford grew up playing the fiddle and banjo at local dances at friends’ houses as well as playing at Natural Bridge State Park with her brother, Coyen. She learned her hard driving musical style from her father. The Ledford family grew up as sharecroppers in the gorge and Lily May’s rise to fame as an important pioneer of country music provides a fundamental example of the strong cultural traditions nourished in this Appalachian valley.
She became a radio star on the WLS Barn Dance in Chicago at the age of 19 and chose to come back to Kentucky to lead the famous Coon Creek Girls string band at Renfro Valley. She enjoyed a solo career later in life performing at folk festivals throughout the United States. In 1985, she was posthumously presented the National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Award for her pioneering contribution to the folk music of America.
The festival will consist of a musical stage, a narrative stage with workshops for children and adults, and an archive station which will include information about Lily May’s life, including films and displays. Performers will include J. P. Pennington of Exile (Lily May’s son) and his children, the Reel World String Band, Cari Norris (Lily May’s granddaughter) and Jim McGee, Rich Kirby and the Po Folks, Anne MacFie, Dick Albin, and others. A night musical performance, “Music In the Blood,” will be held at Natural Bridge State Resort Park Activities Building at 8 p.m., presented by the family members of Lily May.
The festival will start at the Gladie Visitors Center in Red River Gorge Geological Area from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will continue from 8-10 p.m. at the activity center at Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
Food will be available. Please bring your own seating. No alcoholic beverages. Car-pool if possible. In case of rain, go to the Natural Bridge State Resort Park Activities Center Building. Visit www.lilymayledford.com for information and lodging or call Powell County Tourism Commission at 606-663-1161.
Gladie Visitors Center is approximately 55 miles southeast of Lexington, accessible from I-64 onto the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway through exit 33 or 40. Gladie is located on Highway 715. Festival goers may get off the parkway at Stanton and follow signs on the scenic highway to the festival. A map is available at www.lilymayledford.com.
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 52 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit our Web site at http://www.parks.ky.gov