By Anne Pyburn Craig
“Old Mulkey,” observed a local last week, “was always just sort of there. I mean, it was nice, but not much went on there. Then came Sheila.”
“It’s gonna be fabulous,” promises Park Director Sheila Jobe Rush of summer 2018 at Old Mulkey Meetinghouse State Historic Site, home of the oldest freestanding log meeting house in the Commonwealth. She’s referring at the moment to the Writers’ Day set for June 23, but she could just as well be talking about a number of other occasions. The state historic site and park in our backyard is set to be a happenin’ place this summer.
On May 5, photo buffs will gather at 8:30 a.m. for Photography in the Park and enjoy instruction from Steven Phelps of Graham Photography, inspiration in an exhibit from Gary Walker Photography, and a competition for the best digital photos.
On May 19, the scavengers take over for the annual Flint and Stones celebration, a gathering for those of us who love the crazy findings of a good wander outdoors and the lore that goes with them. “Carl Cook is coming from Metcalfe County and bringing 20 trays of arrowheads,” says Rush happily. “It’s the place to bring your finds, show them, sell them, trade them…We always get some really unique pieces. Last year a guy just walked in with a box of stuff and dumped it out — arrowheads, bear claws, all kinds of stuff — and said, ‘This is all for sale for $800.’ Somebody else said, ‘I’ll give seven’ and it sold that day…I’m hoping to get a flintknapper to come. Anyone can come be a vendor if they fit the theme, but flintknappers who are willing to demonstrate the art get a free spot.”
The fifth annual Celebration of Quilts and Quilting, set for June 8 through June 10, will be “the best one ever,” Rush says. “We’re welcoming the Nimble Thimbles down from Franklin, Indiana, as featured exhibitors, and the Tennessee Historical Button Society is coming up, a great bunch of ladies we met when a bunch of went to the Upper Cumberland Quilt festival last year.” Besides the annual Drive-By Quilt Hanging, satellite locations “from Gamaliel to Hestand” will be displaying quilts, saturating Monroe County with 300 or more. At Old Mulkey, visitors will purchase an armband and a map and enjoy demonstrations in the Meeting House courtyard, a Saturday discussion of “Nature’s Bounty: Quilts & More” by expert Sandy Staebell, Registrar/Collections Curator of the Kentucky Museum. And a Sunday “Trunk Show and Tell” with Homemakers president Brenda Turner. (Audience members are invited to bring a quilt and a story of their own.)
Also in June, Rush is hosting a Writers’ Day. (“Kimberly Bartley asked I said sure. It’ll be a meet and greet and booksigning on June 23”) and a Fun in the Sun Day Camp for kids featuring “heritage games and activities, a little environmental ed, then we’ll just run around and play some.”
Throughout the summer, of course,groups and families from near and far will be welcome to visit, reserve the pavilion for events, marvel at the Meeting House, and enjoy the playground and courtyard. One never knows who will turn up at Old Mulkey, or what new adventures may be inspired in the process.
Taste of Monroe, for example. Scheduled for October, the brand new festival is Rush’s salute to 2018 as the Year of the Food in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. “I’m working with a guy named Wes Berry, aka the Hungry Professor,” says Rush, “the author of a book on Kentucky barbecue. I was closing up one day and I found some people at the bottom of the hill eating barbecue; he’d brought another couple along for the Monroe experience.” Rush and Berry are planning an afternoon celebration of “the unique foods of Monroe County — our barbecue, our slaw, our pickled eggs, our Dovie burgers.” There will be cooking contests, eating contests, and demonstrations, including a chocolate gravy demonstration from Ina Graves.
“Wes and I just started brainstorming and we just took off,” says Rush. “And if you’ve got a good idea, and the date is free and you’ll help me do it, c’mon and let’s do it,” says Rush. “Some of the most fun times we’ve had have started with a simple suggestion.”
To get more info on a scheduled event or propose a new one, call Rush at (270) 487-8481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or feel free to attend a meeting of the Friends of Old Mulkey, held each third Thursday at the park office at 11 a.m.