Like those little eddies in the river that are out of the current, away from the rapid flow of the stream, the tiny hamlet of Swallowfield is nestled safely from the torrent that is Big U.S. 127 North heading toward Owenton.
Tucked away on Little U.S. 127 North about 10 miles from Frankfort, not all that long ago every car passing north or south passed right through the middle of town. Not so any longer.
Swallowfield, as they say, is a “destination place” now — you really need to have some business in the once-thriving community or need to see someone there to have a reason to veer off the big road that, unlike its predecessor, is virtually a “two-lane interstate.”
Saturday and Sunday there’ll be a reason as Pete Wise and Company stage the 17th annual Swallowfield Days festival. Once the last of the community shindigs, it’s now the first and second only to Millville Hillbilly Days in longevity.
The two-day event began in 1997 when Charlie Brown, then pastor of the Swallowfield Church of Christ, and Wise, a pillar in the Swallowfield Baptist Church, teamed up to make sure their little burg wasn’t forgotten. The much-needed widening of U.S. 127, which led to the total relocating of the road, left places like Swallowfield and Monterey in Owen County in that little eddy — or “horseshoe” as Brown liked to call it.
“We didn’t want to be forgotten,” said Wise, who lives in Frankfort with his wife Jane. “Charlie and I figured a festival would help bring back folks who had roots in Swallowfied, like a homecoming, and others who wanted to come out for the fun.”
The Wises work all year on the August festival. As time nears others from all around, especially the churches join in to ensure success. “We couldn’t do it without lots of help,” Wise said.
Swallowfield Days has been held in the boiling heat and the literally pouring rain but the unflappable Wise says there’s never been any thought of canceling the event — or talk of making “this one the last one.”
Full day planned
Most of Swallowfield Days is one day — Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. and going until 4 p.m. Sunday (11 a.m. until the shoutin’s done) is more for worship, gospel music, visiting, drawings and generally winding down. But Saturday is full.
Jane Wise has been taking calls for craft vendors, and you can still give her a call at 502-223-2959 if you’re interested. There’ll be crafts folks and other vendors set up along the road and in yards.
A feature of each year’s festival is the car Wise, who owns a body shop in real life, has restored. Chances on the car will be available and the drawing will be held Sunday. It’s pictured here.
Wise feels particularly gratified when someone wins the car who really needs a car. “That makes the work worth it.”
Proceeds from the raffle are used to fund the festival, rent the inflatables, pay for flyers, other advertising and expenses.
The event includes all of the mainstays of days like these: music, games for children, pony rides, inflatables, face painting, a children’s train, bicycle parade, petting zoo, car cruise — and of course lots of food.
“I talked to some people from the 127 Yard Sale a couple of weeks ago and they said they were going to come and set up some tables,” Wise said. “I’ve also traveled to other festivals and passed out flyers.”
Jane Wise said those wishing to set up a table can come Saturday. “We don’t charge them anything. If they make a little something and want to make donation to the church then that’s fine.”
“I think we’re ready,” Pete Wise said. “All in all I’m hoping for another great day and I’d like to invite everyone to come out and join us.”