Expo’s arrival stirs a plethora of memories each year for me, some dating back to the festival’s beginning in the first half of the 1970s as an arts and crafts event to highlight Kentucky’s creativity.
Across the intervening decades, somehow, it has survived — and evolved into what it is today. Expo begins Thursday and continues through Saturday. Read all about it here in Kristina Belcher’s story.
Belcher, incidentally, loves “the Expo” as she calls it — bringing back memories of her childhood.
Really, for Frankfort folks you don’t have to write much other than to say Expo’s coming and here are the dates. As Carl West, editor emeritus of Your Hometown Newspaper used to say: “Phil, it’s our Super Bowl, our World Series, our NBA Playoffs!”
I rode my motorcycle, a Honda 100 that sounded like a chainsaw, to the first Expo when we lived in Bridgeport. Susan came in the car, however.
When we moved to Ann Street in 1977, Expo was virtually in our backyard. We made it a huge event each year by having a party on fireworks night and inviting friends and family over. One of my very first columns for this newspaper was about Clark, who would have been 3 or 4 by then, pulling me across the Fountain Place deck when the carnival was there.
“Daddy, daddy,” he said, “will it be over?”
I rode the rides with him — and with Megan when she came along — and it was always sad to see Expo end. It seemed then, as the late Todd Duvall wrote in an editorial, Fountain Place and the massive deck became a “concrete wasteland” for the rest of the summer.
We watched with horror as state help in funding Expo was pulled after then governor and now senator Julian Carroll left office. It was shortly thereafter that Expo truly became “Frankfort’s Festival” as volunteers refused to let it die as so many events do. Members of the Frankfort Jaycees and others, all younger then, stepped in to manage the extravaganza.
As the years went by and they were “aged out” of the Jaycees, they stayed to keep it going as they are this year, remembering Billy Noblitt, who was serving as president at the time of his death in January. Former Jaycee and longtime Expo officer Stan Salchli stepped in.
The composition of the festival, the names of those who run it have changed over the decades but, at the end of the day and the first weekend in June, it remains our festival.
Go make a memory. We’ll see you there!