PRESTONSBURG – Jenny Wiley Festival offered some cultural flare and deep fried goodness during last weekends event. Organizers say apart from a few hiccups, this year was one of the best.
New this year to the Jenny Wiley Festival was an expanded roster of food vendors with a selection of seemingly deep fried everything, as well new attractions, including a Native American culture area. Organizers say that judging by the crowds, attempts to reinvigorate the festival appear to have been a hit.
“I think this was one of our biggest years,” said Jennifer Gardner, a member of the festival committee. In particular Gardner noted the success of the powwow.
The Native American culture area had several attractions and performances by the Richmond Powwow Association and Ohio Valley Native American Veteran Society.
“I think it went extremely well. It brought in people who I think wouldn’t have come out otherwise,” said Gardner of the new attraction. “Plus our school shows. I think we had over 300 kids to attend the powwow shows.”
On Friday, school children were bused in for two performances. There were additional shows for the general public that evening and at least one additional performance on Saturday. The associations dancers also highlighted this years parade as the grand marshal.
The performances featured ritually costumed dancers and authentic Native American drumming. During performances organizers took time out to honor veterans and first responders. Other performances paid tribute to seniors inviting the elderly into the ring to dance.
According to Gardner the city is planning to bring back the Native American groups. “We’re going to work it in to get them back. They loved it here. They say we showed them more hospitality than their own hometown.”
Gardner says that the event should be bigger next year.
If the powwow was the new bright spot in this years festival, the parade was the disappointment. This years parade, while larger than most, was full of lengthy gaps that kept a captive audience wondering more than once if, ‘that was it?’
“The parade had issues that will get worked out next year,” said Gardner. “We might have to limit performances going forward.”
According to Gardner there were performances that slowed the parade down. But she says it could be potentially resolved by limiting those performances to a review area near city hall.
Gaps in parades can create safety hazards for the viewing public as the openings invariably draw people inward into the street to see what, if anything, is coming next down the line.
While larger than years past, this years parade also featured more random cars and trucks and rolling billboards for local businesses than actual floats or creative designs. Gardner said that at present there were no plans to limit parade participation to floats or creative ventures. “That might be something we look at,” said Gardner. “We just try to get people to participate. We probably wont turn anyone away.”
Gardner says that the parade subcommittee will examine this years event and look for ways to make improvements. She said she expects an overall festival committee meeting this week while this years festival is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
For more information on festival committee meetings, contact city hall at (606) 886-2335.
contact Jackson Latta at (606) 886-8506